Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Trying To Find Balance In Weight Loss

The ups and downs of diet this time around--well, I seem to have lost my patience.  But then, I contemplated the past SEVEN YEARS and I did find a pattern.  One that has been there for the entire time, one I noticed, but a pattern I disregarded.

My weight dips to a number that thrills my soul.  Then it goes back up the next day.  I dissolve in doubt and self recrimination.  This is where I fall off the wagon, usually.  This time, due to age and exhaustion, I just sigh "oh, bother!" and keep going.  In a few days, the number reappears and stays put until another unexpected drop in numbers occurs and disappears.  I think it is mostly that I need to be drinking more water.

On more exciting news.  The fan part was installed in the fridge.  Started right up and was still working when I woke up this morning.  We are still feeling insecure.  I have 5 ears of corn, some cut up watermelon and my coffee creamer in there.  I told G we would be transfer things to the "now working" fridge as we used them.  Not a mass exodus from the sunroom loaner.  I still don't have trust that the fridge will keep working.

I ventured into the backyard of my daughter's house, at dusk, to pick blackberries.  Did I tell you this already?  Not the big berries I harvested from my own thicket last summer.  These are the small ones. I may go back tomorrow after work.  I got about a quart of them.  Only two mosquito bites.  I may just have to dress in heavy canvas work pants, long sleeved jacket and boots and try to fight my way into the overgrown mess in my yard to collect the small wild berries.  IF that is all there will be--then that's what I will have to make do with this year.  I had wanted a blackberry pie. Before the diet.
But pie can be a part of a diet if eaten instead of lunch and dinner.

PT continues to go well.  My therapist and I get along like friends who have known each other for years and years.  Isn't it odd how that happens.  Will the friendship continue of end when my therapy ends?  I guess I know the answer to that.

I am working the afternoon shift today.  It's a long afternoon and very boring.  I have an orchid and a pot arriving from our mother ship store.  I have to pot it up for a 60th birthday gift.  I could also take my own orchids in and repot them.  It feels like I should be on vacation.  Sleeping late, reading books, sewing something.  August stuff.

Next month is my birthday.  68.   "oh, bother!"

Monday, August 25, 2014

August Ending & Jar of Pickles

The end of the garden season seems to be fast approaching.  Today I made up a half gallon jar of refrigerator pickles, using the worn scrap of paper on which I scribbled my mother's instructions. Family meals, when I was growing up in Cleveland, consisted of a main dish (usually meat), potatoes in some form, a vegetable (usually canned), a plate of sliced bread (not always from the bakery) and another plate with an offering from the garden. Refrigerator pickles were a favored item.  The pickled beets not as popular (though I loved them) with my brothers.  The portions weren't large but we were all healthy.

The scrap of paper and the smell of the vinegar, sugar salt brine always brings back memories of those years.   My mother gardened with a vengeance.  All insects and diseases were dispatched with products displaying a skull and warning.  When these products were banned my mother stockpiled rusting cans in the garage.  DTD.  Stuff like that.

She also got my father to "pick up" buckets of horse manure from the police horse barns.  Cleveland still had mounted police at that time.  Imagine driving home with open buckets of horse manure in the car.  Ugh!!!  She composted it behind the garage mostly for her roses.

In the summer we were served plates of sliced tomatoes warm from the garden, bowls of steamed green beans, pickled cucumbers and the pickled beets with our pork chop or stewed chicken.  My grandmother (on my father's side) provided us with plum kuchen, apple strudel and an endless array of cabbage based dishes.  Which I LOVED.  She also made the best dumplings.   When the summer garden was closing down my grandmother ground everything in the garden into a pickled chow chow which we didn't like.  Then.  Now I would love it. She also pickled hot banana peppers to eat with rye bread and baked ham.

When I went to stay with my dad while he recovered from pneumonia, I discovered jars and jars of pickled banana peppers in his basement.  Ageless with rusted lids.  Who knows when they were canned.  He ate them.  I did not.  Were they canned by my long dead grandmother?  

These are the thoughts and memories brought to life by a saucepan of pickling brine coming to the boil in the August kitchen.  My pickles (I grew the cucumbers, garlic and dill) won't be ready to eat until tomorrow, but I like looking at the jar on the stove top, cooling.  A connection to two other generations that gardened and served garden grown produce to the ones they loved.

G and I will be having sliced tomatoes tonight--finally my countertop is covered in red tomatoes.  Life is good!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Perennials

Now is the time of year when the more "shrubby" perennials shine.  The Russian Sages.  The Salvia. The Veronicas.  In this picture we even have a rebloom on the Dianthus, the short stuff at the front of the bed.

I planted my Russian sage two years ago and it has not produced any of the tall blue flower spikes.  It is actually just as big as it was when it went in the ground.  Meaning it isn't planted where it needs to be.  That's the lesson for today.  Now, in that same bed, a tall spiky plant is blooming again even though I have tried to get rid of it over a period of several years.  That plant is where it wants to be and will not be moved.  I don't like it because it is very invasive and will populate the entire bed if I stop digging it up.  I think it's wild blue lobelia.  A very descriptive name.

Today was drop off day for the Arts Are Elementary 10 by 10 art works.  You never got to see the second one.  It got finished very late yesterday and both got names about 5 minutes before I got into the car to drive to the drop off.  I don't like giving things names as I find it limits the viewer to see things "my way" rather than interpret for themselves.  So they both were Garden Bouquet. #1 and #2.  When I was in college studying art--everything was an "artist proof".

The garden is limping along.  We are not having August weather.  The days are in the low 70's and the nights in the 50's.  And it's often overcast or cloudy.  And it rains making the plants all mildewy. That's what has happened to the zucchini.  It is suffering from mildew.  Now that I have a recipe I like (the fritters) the plants have stopped making zucchini.

The cucumbers are still producing as are the green peppers.  I also have cherry and regular tomatoes getting ripe.  My cabbages are looking very plump.  I have kale and chard.  Carrots are coming into the house and going straight into my salads or the fritters.  My pole beans (started late) are just starting to climb the trellis.  I planted them late so I wouldn't have to deal with them at the same time as the tomatoes.  I like my green beans roasted in a hot oven with olive oil and salt.  Fine September food.  I am waiting for the tomatoes on the counter to get nice and soft and then I will be making tomato jam.

I am one pound away from my 5 week goal on weight loss.  I would be happiest if I could exceed  my goal but I will be content just to reach it--such has been the struggle.  Going from the high fat/high calorie routine of low carb to the low calorie diet high in watery vegetables and salads has been difficult.  My zucchini fritters have been a nice refuge.  And the ratatouille is almost a daily choice. With 4 ounces (dry weight) of pasta which I would never been able to eat on no carb.  Physical therapy is making a difference.  My hip and knee feel much better.  The knee especially.  I'm not sure the tape on the toes is doing what it should be doing but have to wait 2 more weeks to see the foot doctor.  The ¼ inch pad stuck on the outside edge if my foot is certainly working.  Taking the pressure off my knee.

I am busy today, as I am every Saturday, in trying to process all the produce from the garden into meal or package it into freezer bags.  I am wondering if I have enough time and carrots to make the Italian carrot soup I love?  Or do I want to make a stir fry using the one cabbage I have already harvested?  Stir fries are always so beautiful. And I do enjoy all the chopping, slicing etc. Onion, carrot, cabbage and peppers with some garlic and ginger.  Perhaps a jalapeño.  Over brown rice. Sounds promising.

Hours are being cut at work.  People are being laid off.  College kids are going back to school and others are searching for and finding new jobs.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.  I think it's hardest to be the one left behind.

Monday, August 18, 2014

This Blog & Garden Report & Recipes

This blog has actually been (and still is) an open journal of what I do (or don't do) over a period of days.  I tried to blog each day but my life doesn't lend itself to interesting daily posts (laughing). Not that what I do produce is all that interesting, but it's me, and since I can't talk about other people, I am limited to me.

I have had a reader email to report that her comments are returned to her.  I had wondered why I don't get any comments.  This could be why. Up to now I thought I was just talking to empty air and everyone had stopped reading.  I am going to see what I can do about my comment section.  Not that I know much about how this blog actually works and you can always email me directly.

Today is clean out the fridge day.  This loaner fridge is just like my old fridge (which I disliked) because once stuff is stuffed inside--it is very hard to find unless you get down on your knees and dig around.  Things get pushed to the back and linger there until they get "soupy". UGH!!!

I have gotten a few bags of veg out of the fridge and now need to go digging to see if there is more. I have zucchini shredded to make fritters (recipe at end of post) which turned out to be quite tasty warm and even more to my liking straight from the fridge.  My guests ate them with a yogurt lemon garlic sauce and liked that very much.  I also pulled out all the cucumbers I could find but I think there is a second bag in there with larger cucumbers (that recipe also at the end).  I also found another eggplant so I plan to throw together another pot of ratatouille and freeze it.  I did harvest one long thin lavender eggplant from the garden.  Looks gorgeous.  I finally have tomatoes.  Not as many as usual in August but enough to enjoy on a daily basis.

My diet continues to work with bumps in the road caused by "eating out" so I have made an announcement to G that I will no longer be eating out--a large salad does not interest me in a restaurant. Never as fresh as it should be. It just isn't in my best interest right now, at the beginning, to eat out.  I think it's the salt content of the food.  Not that I don't heavily salt my food, I do, but they must really oversalt in restaurants.

In the spirit of positive thinking, I went upstairs and got a few things out of the size 16 box.  Summer pants only.  A few of them fit and others were still snug.  Gives me incentive.  It's also nice to have something different to wear.  The clothing is mostly from the "retail employer" and I can see why most were only 20 cents.  Same size, same style and completely different fit.  Too big, too small, too long, too short.  Across the board.  So, this week I will be wearing sizes 18 and sizes 16 and both will fit exactly the same.  Which is the right one?  Who knows.

I am completely out of hangers for the closet.  And in related news, I am wearing the same three or four clothing items over and over.  Which means I don't actually need the other things.

Physical Therapy is going well.  I need to find a small ball shaped object for one of the exercises.  PT used a balloon.  Now I wish Riley liked to chase balls.

Here's the Fritter Recipe

Shred one pound (less or more) of zucchini (don't peel), lightly salt and let drain in a colander for an hour (or so) Grate one onion (tastes best with a good amount of onion), ½ cup fresh dill (I used dry), 4 T fresh chopped parsley, ½ cup grated cheese (feta is suggested- I used dry cheddar and some grated Parm), 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, salt and pepper.  I think you could add any herb combo you wanted or like using to this recipe.  Since the recipe is Turkish I think mint would be nice.

I skipped the added salt and just seasoned with pepper.  Squeeze out any water from the zucchini and mix everything together.  I added a shredded carrot to my mixture and you could add chives or green onion also.  Scoop out enough to make a 4 inch round patty (I just scooped the mix right into the pan and then flattened it out into a patty shape).  Easy as the mixture is thick. Fry in olive oil until dark and crispy.  Serve hot, warm or cold.  The sauce I made was ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, mashed garlic clove and lemon juice to make a nice smooth sauce.  Made around 16 patties.  I served three people and had 4 leftover for my lunch.  I think you could make these in the Fall with shredded sweet potato or butternut squash, a carrot and even a shredded gold potato.  Longer cooking time to get crisp but I think they would be very good.

Cucumber Recipe

Thinly slice as many peeled cucumbers as you have.  Salt and let drain in colander.  Mix sour cream (as much as needed for amount of cucumbers) I use about ½ to ¾ cup.  I add one or two packets of Splenda and 2 to 4 T of cider vinegar.  I mix the sauce and taste until it is as sweet, tart and yummy as I like it to be.  Then I fold in the drained cucumber slices and a generous 1 or 2T dry dill.  I serve this with grilled Italian sausages and fried potatoes and onions.  It would also be good with the fritters. I often eat this alone as a cold breakfast or lunch.

Ratatouille  Recipe (from Martha Stewart--google it an see pictures of finished dish).

I cut one pound of eggplant, one pound of zucchini/summer squash into cubes about an inch in size.  I chop  two large onions up and sauté it with garlic and cut up two green or colored bell peppers and soften in olive oil in a large oven safe pot.  When the onion and peppers are soft, I add the cubed eggplant and squash.  The recipe wants you to roast a 28 ounce can of tomatoes (on a sheet pan and NOT in the can) in the oven for 50 minutes to dry out and thicken.  Then you add everything and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes--till cooked but not mushy.  Seasoning is salt and pepper and marjoram leaves.   Eat with pasta, as a side to grilled meats, with an egg on top or in a wrap.  I also mix some black beans or chickpeas into a bowl of ratatouille for more protein.  Parmesan cheese on top is pretty nice.

I use double of every vegetable to make a really big pot of this.