Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aunt Pam's Cranberry Pomegranate Relish

My Aunt Pam created this recipe years ago and it has been a huge hit ever since. It seems every time I make it, someone wants the recipe. It is definitely a family favorite, and it is ALWAYS on the table at our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. We eat it every which way we can and make a ton extra on Thanksgiving eve to last us for the entire week. I eat it for breakfast, and lunch, and snacks. With turkey, in a turkey sandwich, with salad, with our pies, with cool whip, or whipping cream, with yogurt, and/or cottage cheese or just all by itself.

I am pretty confident that this recipe was developed around the pomegranates, my grandfather had a tree in his backyard and my aunt liked to use the pomegranates.
Ok, so one thing I REALLY love about this recipe is that it sort of tricks your mouth. I know some people don't love the hard part of the seed inside the pomegranate seed, but you won't even realize they are there if you chop the nuts up really small like the size of the pomegranate seeds then your mouth just thinks you are eating the little minced nuts.

Try NOT to do this recipe without the nuts. I know some people have nut allergies, but just bring your epi pen, it's worth it...j/k but seriously if you don't go into anaphylactic shock from eating nuts then this recipe is worth eating nuts for. My brother-in-law always comes to Thanksgiving prepared to rinse his mouth out with baking soda to get the nut allergy itches out of his throat after eating it. I actually make him a special one with Almonds instead of the walnuts or pecans. He's not as allergic to Almonds for some reason.

There are 2 versions. One is my Aunt Pam's original version, then following that is my tripled version. The tripled version isn't even enough for my family of pigs, we practically have to triple it twice. Plus everyone always wants their own little take-home-dish after; It's sort of like the party favor at the end of Thanksgiving. My dad’s late cousin Vicki started this tradition, as she would always call me before Thanksgiving to remind me to make extra relish so she could have her own little container to take home. Then everyone would get all jealous and want their own too. I buy those little glad ware containers and stack them in the fridge on Thanksgiving eve.

One year I made a mistake and tripled the recipe but didn’t realize that I only had enough raspberries to double the recipe. It was too late though; I had already dissolved the jello in all the hot water and didn’t want to waste. I figured I could use whatever kind of fruit I felt like using to replace the missing raspberries. I filled in with canned mandarin orange segments. That was the year I shared the relish with my friend Lori. Now, Lori forever prefers this recipe with the oranges. However, that was also the year that my sister-in-law Hope realized she liked it done correctly, the first way she had experienced it, without the oranges. I still get a kick out of that. I’ll eat practically anything so either way is fine with me.

Last year I gave this recipe to a friend of mine. She was a little confused about how to make it and couldn't get a hold of me in time. She thought she needed to follow the instructions on the jello package for the amount of water it says, plus the water from this recipe. NOOOOOOOO! Don't do that please. Just follow Aunt Pam's recipe, do not follow the recipe on the Jello package.

Also, be prepared to have ugly yellow stained hands for a week from peeling pomegranate seeds. I actually suggest if you’ve had a manicure recently and you don’t want to ruin it, you have a man peel out the pomegranate seeds, unless you want an excuse to go get a manicure. It's sort of our family tradition that my husband Richard does this job. He sits at the table and does it while watching TV, it's the one time of year he scores points with me while watching TV. Some say to peel the pomegranates under water, and some say to buy them already peeled, but when you have friends with pomegranate trees, it makes sense to use them--not the friends, the pomegranates.

So about 7 years ago the stores stopped selling 10 oz. containers of frozen sweetened raspberries so I had to figure something else out. The 12 oz. bags are fine, a couple extra ounces of raspberries won't make a difference in the recipe; however, the fact that the bags are not sweetened enough will make a difference. Some bags say that they’re sweetened but it’s still not enough to balance out the fresh cranberries--trust me, this is coming from someone who prepares apple juice 1 part juice, and 1 part water and it’s still too sweet! So add about ¼ cup of sugar into the jello and hot water at the beginning so it dissolves. Then, BEFORE you pour it into the fancy jello molds--or your glad ware containers--drink a glass of it, and see for yourself if it’s sweet enough--it's like cold pomegranate soup.
Pam’s Cranberry Pomegranate Relish
  • 1    3 oz. package orange jello
  • 1    3 oz package raspberry jello (you can replace these 2 little jello’s for 1 big 6 oz. package (I hear the 3 oz. packages are hard to come by now), a nice alternative is the new cran raspberry flavor, but stick with orange, raspberry, or cran-raspberry, don't do cherry or strawberry, or anything else!)
  • Dissolve above in 2 cups of boiling water (You'll need to add about ¼ cup of sugar to this, read the explanation above)
  • Add: 2 10 oz. packages of frozen raspberries and stir until thawed (You'll probably have to do the 12 oz. bags because I can't find 10 oz. cans sweetened raspberries anymore)
  • Add: 1 bag fresh cranberries finely chopped (food processor makes this fast and simple)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans or almonds
  • Seeds from 1 (large) pomegranate, or 2 small pomegranates
Mix well, refrigerate overnight or several hours in jello molds. To get the relish out of the jello molds, still looking pretty. I like to dip the jellp mold in a hot water bath for about 5 - 10 seconds, then take place my pretty dish upside down, on top of the relish, then flip the whole thing over and let the relish fall out on to the plate. I prefer to use the plastic flexible jello molds that you can sort of squeeze the suction out of a little to get it to all fall out nicely. This little process makes it easy to travel with, then you can flip it for the presentation when you get to your location. Also, if you are traveling with it un-refridgerated for some time, you may want to skip the hot water part.

Pam’s Cranberry Relish tripled and updated
  • 3    6 oz. packages orange jello, and/or raspberry jello, or cran-raspberry
  • 1/2 – ¾ cup sugar (I think it just depends on how tart your cranberries and pomegranates are and how sweet you like your relish, just try it before you set it, and if you have to stir in a little more sugar---go for it!)
  • Dissolve above in 6 cups of boiling water
  • Add: 60 oz. frozen raspberries and stir until thawed (5 12 oz. bags)
  • Add: 3 bags fresh cranberries finely chopped (food processor makes this fast and simple)
  • 3 cups chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
  • Seeds from 3 large pomegranates
Mix well, refrigerate overnight or several hours in jello molds. To get the relish out of the jello molds, still looking pretty. I like to dip the jellp mold in a hot water bath for about 5 - 10 seconds, then take place my pretty dish upside down, on top of the relish, then flip the whole thing over and let the relish fall out on to the plate. I prefer to use the plastic flexible jello molds that you can sort of squeeze the suction out of a little to get it to all fall out nicely. This little process makes it easy to travel with, then you can flip it for the presentation when you get to your location. Also, if you are traveling with it un-refridgerated for some time, you may want to skip the hot water part.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Just any Lost Dog

“Kelly, could you roll the hose back into the hose box next time you water? I’m tired of cutting the hose off to re-attach the nozzle!”

Richard wasn’t happy about our yard problems that were a result of our dog. Madeline’s psychological behaviors were carrying over into our yard, especially with our hose. She had some sort of dog version of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and would attack the hose like it was a snake and kill it—literally. It’s impossible to water anything out back when Maddy--as we nick named her--is on the loose. She attacks the water coming out of the hose while drinking it at high pressure. She doesn’t stop for any reason…..wait, except to purge, and then she’ll start another binge with the hose water just long enough to purge again. She does this over and over again. It reminds me of a certain type of eating disorder I remember from a Psychology and Behavioral Nutrition class I took during my college days as a Dietetics major.

When Richard would go out to use the hose the next time, the holes she tore into it would burst out like a geyser, right at his face, legs and feet; by the time the water got to the end of the hose, there was no pressure to water anything. By then he would already be soaked. Our hose gets shorter by the week. Every time Maddy attacks the hose, Richard cuts it so that all the tear holes from the attack are cut off. Then he re attaches the nozzle to the hose—just like new; only temporarily until she attacks it again. There’s one thing about Maddy that is predictable; the consistency of her psychotic rituals.

She’s a Jack Russell Terrier and she was our first dog as a married couple. We had returned home from Provo, Utah after graduating from Brigham Young University. My parents were buying a new larger home and were selling my childhood home, so we bought my childhood home from them. At about the same time, my Uncle Wayne had a really great Jack Russell Terrier named Louie who was in demand as a stud dog. They lived in Temecula and had horses; the Jack Russell was a great breed for them because Jack Russell’s have an affinity for horses. They actually ride on top of the horses and run them for the owners. When Louie was successfully studded out, my uncle would get the pick of the litter or a $750 stud fee, his choice. He chose the pick of the litter with this particular mating because he was so fond of the mother dog and fell in love with Maddy immediately.

His decision to keep Maddy was not one based on intelligence but more on his swelling heart. They already had 3 large dogs; a German Shepard, a black lab, and a very large Yellow Lab that got fat from eating avocados that fell from the 80 trees on their ranch. They also had several other Jack Russell Terriers. All these dogs were not excited about Maddy joining their family and it became too difficult to manage so many animals. Since Maddy was the last one in, she had to be the first one out. My uncle felt too attached to send her back, never to be seen again; so he showed up at my door with her. If he could get me to take her, then he would have access to her. Maddy was irresistible, 8 weeks old, not more than 4 lbs, and Richard and I fell in love at first sight. I never dreamed of having a small dog; I never liked small dogs. I grew up with big dogs; black labs and golden retrievers. Richard grew up with Poodles; Maddy was the perfect compromise. There was no excuse for us not to take her. She was free and we had a yard for her.

We were still a young married couple and we didn’t have any children yet so Maddy didn’t have to share us with anyone. We took her everywhere with us and she was our baby. When I got pregnant I would ask my mother, who had 6 children of her own; “How am I going to love a child as much as I love Maddy?”

My mom would just laugh me off, like I was crazy, but she understood. When I had the baby, poor Maddy got ripped off; but she didn’t mind, she LOVED Emily. She grew to LOVE kids and wouldn’t bite a person if they sat on her. Maddy maxed out at a whopping 12 lbs.

We rented out a room in our house to our friend Dennis. He was also a friend of my Uncle Wayne’s. Dennis came home one day from my Uncle’s Temecula ranch with a puppy. He named it Humphrey Bogart, Bogey for short. Maddy and Bogey were actually siblings. Bogey was also a descendent of Louie but had a different mom. Maddy and Bogey became best buddies. It worked well for us, especially since we had a new baby and were not paying as much attention to Maddy.

Maddy was so genuine and loveable, careless and carefree, crazy and fun, sweet and curious, and super funny. She was funny enough to video record her crazy behaviors and send them in to Funniest Home Videos. She enjoyed attacking the light from a laser beam, a flashlight, or even the reflection from the face of my watch--and she would do it until her nose bled. Everywhere we took her, she drew crowds. At our community’s annual 4th of July party in the park, people are always drawn to her. She could play fetch for hours. Maddy is like a risky, naughty, bold, super fun, and funny friend who would do anything for you; everyone has one of those don’t they? I’m thinking of mine right now.

Maddy also grew up to be an escape artist. A little adrenaline rush and she could do anything. Trying to keep her in our back yard is the equivalent of trying to keep a cat in our back yard—nearly impossible. She has a tendency to be distracted by rats, birds, and bunny rabbits and they motivate her to run. With a little adrenaline, Maddy can jump leaps and bounds. She could chase the bunnies all day long and never get tired or bored. Maddy has turned out to be quite costly. The neighbors next door got tired of her jumping into their yard so they asked us to fix the fence we share. We spent over $2000 on a wrought iron fence to keep her contained; it didn’t really work very well. Then we had to build a dog run. Maddy hates the dog run and also found out how to escape it. We haven’t figured out how she gets out yet. We’re about ready to invest in a hidden camera system.

On Monday night I was bringing groceries into the house; I had both hands full so I opened the front door by raising my leg up and pushing the handle down with my foot while kicking in on the door. While I was walking to the kitchen with the groceries, Richard went into the back yard to get the dogs to bring them in for the night. When they saw the open front door, they bolted like lightening down our street and turned the corner in a matter of seconds. Once they turned the corner, there’s no telling if they went up the street by the pool, or around the block to “the canyon” as we called it as kids, but now named “Peliconi Park” by the city. Either way, there are small rodents to terrorize, which is why I call them “Jack Russell Terrorists.” Well, that, and also because they terrorize us with their disappearances.

Now, I admit, this happens occasionally; on average about two or three times a month. We always go running or driving after them and they always come back eventually when we do. Monday night was different. Richard couldn’t find them. It was really dark, and he thought they might have gone into “the canyon.” He looked for them for over an hour. He came home exhausted and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep so I took the next shift until about 11:30 pm and then I came home exhausted. I still couldn’t sleep knowing my 2 little dogs were out running with the coyotes. Maddy’s been attacked by coyotes twice, and barely survived the second time. The vet declared her the most stoic dog he had ever known. I laid down in bed, exhausted. I felt horrible that I had locked up the house as if the case was closed and they were dead and gone; however, I didn’t feel safe leaving the front door cracked open. If I fell asleep, my children wouldn’t be safe. I argued each side tormenting myself. I opted to crack the door so the dogs could get in if they came home. I gave one last shot at yelling their names, by this time it was close to midnight:

“MAAAAAADDDYYYYY…..BOOOOOGGGEEEYYYYY!” I yelled out into my neighborhood in the middle of the night, knowing how much my neighbors must love me now. Especially the ones next door who sleep with their windows wide open, the ones who have no children or pets; need I say more? Within 5 minutes Bogey came running into my bedroom, tail wagging, frantic and frazzled.

“Where’s Maddy?” I asked him. “Bogey, where’s Maddy?....Let’s go find her together!”

We drove all over our neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods looking for Maddy. Bogey had his head hanging out the passenger window; he was actually looking for Maddy too. Usually they stick together when they get out, but Maddy is much faster than Bogey, she is the leader of the pack. If Bogey can’t keep up with her, she doesn’t wait for him. I continued to call her name out occasionally:

“MAAAAADDDDDYYYYYY!” I yelled, honestly trying not to wake up the entire neighborhood but also not really caring knowing that the longer it took to find her, the further away she could be and the more likely to be eaten by a predator.

It was 2 am now and I was exhausted, we went home and Bogey slept in bed with us. I could not sleep. I dreamt that Maddy came back and I felt the relief, but then woke up and reality set in. I fell back asleep again. This time I dreamt that Maddy was gone forever and I had to move on, then I woke up with a lump in my throat and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up and yelled her name out the front door; I kept it cracked open, went back to bed and prayed. This went on all night long.

When morning came I got the kids off to school and Bogey and I started our mission to find Maddy. We scoured all the wilderness areas around our neighborhood; starting behind the tennis courts and pool. The hills were steep, awkward, heavily vegetated and difficult to hike. The coyote dens inside the dead, broken trees gave me the chills. I imagined Maddy’s dead body inside one of the dens and living the rest of my life, never knowing her fate. It reminded me of our childhood cat Buffy, who was eaten by coyotes, as most of our cats were. The difference with this one was that one of our neighbors found her head in their back yard and body in the front yard. I didn’t want to find Maddy if she was dead, but at the same time, I wanted to know her fate so I could move on. Richard told me if I found any parts of her, to bag them so we could burry her in the back yard. He was serious, I was dying inside.

It was such a beautiful, peaceful, quiet day, so quiet I could hear all the birds chirping in the trees. When the bushes rustled from the bunny rabbits, my heart would skip a beat, hoping it was Maddy coming through to answer my calls. The sky was cloudless and as blue as I had ever seen it, everything was fresh, clean and green. The recent rains had beautified all the earth and the dirt was saturated, wet and dense. It smelled like fresh sage and wildflowers as I combed through the shrubs, breaking small branches, stepping on the blooms and releasing all the scents. I climbed to the top of the steepest, highest hill near our house and looked down into the canyon, scanning back and forth looking and calling for Maddy. The panoramic views were amazing. To my left, I could see the hustle and bustle of the world; the 91 freeway with thousands of cars hurrying to their destinations, but there were no freeway sounds, only the peaceful sounds of nature. To my right, practically the entire West Anaheim Hills, including open areas that were a deep hue of green; I have never been to Ireland but I felt like I was there. I stared into backyards and any open areas, looking for anything white and moving.

I probably called for Maddy over 100 times. I felt at peace with my surroundings and just sat with Bogey and cried. I cried until I felt at peace with Maddy being in heaven, knowing I would see her again someday. I thought about her age. She was 10 years old, going on 11 and although her life was cut short, she had lived long. Was it possible this was a blessing in disguise? Is it possible that the alternative way of loosing Maddy in the future would have been worse? I thought about her recent visit to the Animal Hospital in the middle of the night. She had a liver infection and was very ill. She still had another day left of her antibiotics when she disappeared. Was it better that she go like this, than for the kids to find her dead body in the back yard, or in the street after getting hit by a car? I felt like all my prayers for her safe return were in vain. Maddy had never been gone this long, never more than 1 day. I worried the kids’ prayers to find Maddy would be unanswered and shake their sweet, innocent, childlike faith.

Time flew by. Katie and her friend would be waiting for me at school if I didn’t book it to the bottom of the hill. I was trying to think of the best and fastest way down when my dear friend Kellie called. She was worried about me--knowing I was depressed and hell bent on finding Maddy—so she offered to pick up our kids. She asked where I was and then drove to the top of the street to the houses behind. I could see her car through the wrought iron fence of the house behind me, so I climbed the wall to get to her.

I had to make every effort possible so after the big girls got out of school, Emily and I decided to make posters and hang them all over the area. I found a recent picture of Maddy and spent the entire afternoon and evening hanging the posters with Emily. Every time a car would drive by, Emily would wave her “Lost Dog” poster like those advertisement clown guys that stand in front of stores, being paid to dance like idiots in an attempt to get your attention. We saw countless friends and neighbors drive by. They would make sad faces at us, and assure us that they would look for her.

I had my cell phone with me every second of every minute; especially now that my cell phone number was plastered all over the town. I ALWAYS answered hoping that it was good news about Maddy. The software on my phone wasn’t working properly and a warranty replacement phone had come in the mail. It was on my mile long list of things to do, to call Verizon and get my service and data switched to the new phone.

The next morning I woke up with a lump in my throat. I felt awful; how could the world continue on when my Maddy was gone? It was day 3 now and I had to move on. I tried to minimalize my pain by thinking of all the parents out there whose children have gone missing. Grateful it was Maddy and not my child I thought about the statistics of missing children returning home after 3 days being gone and knew that it was much less likely after the first day, and less and less as each day passed. Trying to move on and tackle my mile long list, I began by calling Verizon. I had the customer service gentleman on speakerphone as he patiently waited while I tried to activate my new cell phone. Benjamin was screaming commands at me so I apologized to the man and excused Ben as my demanding 2 year old boy wanting my immediate attention especially since I picked up the phone. He patiently understood from experience as he also has a 2 year old. Then my doorbell rang so I asked him to hold on again. As I opened the door, there she was! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn’t believe my eyes, a woman, an angel, was there at my door holding Maddy in her arms. I reached out and Maddy jumped to me. Maddy’s excitement to be home was evident by her wagging tail, and hyper craziness. Her body was hot from running around in the sun. I could feel the grimy layers of shrub and of dirt all over her. She smelled like a combination of a stinky gross bathroom and dry desert sage. I broke down crying and couldn’t let go. I can’t remember the last time I cried so many tears of joy. The Verizon man on the other end of the line heard it all. I think I cried for a half hour straight. I called Richard at work during class. I was crying so hard, I couldn’t talk clearly. He was worried so I tried to get it together and I spit it out:
“MADDY’S BACK!” I told him.
“Huh? Maddy’s dead?” he said.

“NO! MADDY’S BACK!” I exclaimed, “SHE’S ALIVE, SHE’S BACK! A lady saw our signs, and saw Maddy wandering around, she thought it was the dog in the pictures so she brought her home. SHE’S HOME!” I cried.

Needless, to say, Richard was more than happy to receive that interrupting phone call, and also relieved.

My dear friend Kellie went to pick the kindergartners up at school. I asked her to tell the big girls that we found Maddy. She took them over to the grass at school and huddled everyone together: Emily, Grace, Katie, and her 2 children, their good friends. When she told them they started jumping up and down and flipping out, they practically knocked her down. Together they said a prayer of thanks for finding Maddy and went back out to play.

We didn’t realize how much we really LOVED Maddy, we do now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wild Indians

January 18, 2010
I​’m having a hard time keeping up with my 5-year-old ​Katie’s gigantic crafty creations; they take over the entire house and I worry that Richard will trip and fall over something. Yesterday she created a sort of “Santa and his Reindeer” interactive toy display at the entrance to our house. It’s a huge oversized stuffed lion that came from the corner of Benny’s room; It WAS part of the decor of his safari theme but this lion seems to somehow escape all too often. They got this Family Fun Craft Box for Christmas (not from me) and it has all kinds of crazy fun stuff for kids in it. Katie took the yarn from the box and made reins to connect the lion to her princess shopping cart that is sort of a makeshift sleigh. She put Benny’s fireman hat on the lion and says it’s a firetruck lion for Benny and his best friend Ty Ty to play with. She began creating it a couple of days ago when Ty Ty came over to play with Ben but when Ty Ty had to leave Katie made sure I understood that the Lion wasn’t finished yet and that she would finish it in time for Benny’s next play date with Ty Ty. I keep telling her to clean it all up but she gets really emotional about it and insists that she has to wait for Ty Ty to come over and play with it. I’m thinking Ty Ty better come over ASAP because I’m so over this Lion thing, it doesn’t go with the d├ęcor of my house. (-:

Latel​y, Richard and I have been known to call the kids “Wild Indians” as a sort of tribute to his Healthsouth Hospital roommate Bob. Bob was a super nice guy and very patient, he was in his early 70’s and had a stroke. He didn’t get a lot of visitors mostly because he didn’t have a big family; it was just his wife and 2 daughters. He was the caregiver for his wife when this happened to him so she couldn’t get over to the hospital to see him without his help. One of his daughters married, the other never did, but neither ever had children. They would visit as much as possible but they were caring for their mother at home also. From the beginning I was concerned that we would disrupt his peace because I brought the kids almost every day. Bob insisted that we not worry about him. He was a fun roommate for Richard to have; they would often watch the same football game on their own individual TV’s and talk about the players and the plays. He sometimes would assist Ben in finding the therapy baseballs around his bed, left there from occasional over throws. The kids always greeted Bob right away when we got there. When the kids came to the hospital, upon their entrance into the room, Bob would always say in a friendly welcoming voice; “The Wild Indians are here!”
I’​m starting to wonder if it might be less stressful for Richard to go to work and deal with 250 teenagers every day than to stay home and participate in the chaos of 4 “Wild Indians” and 2 psychotic dogs each day.

The other day Grace drew a beautiful picture (-: I am starting to see how she portrays our dogs and how they fit into our family. Notice the mess on the floor next to the dog. What is it called when kids get therapy through art? Art therapy?
By the way, if you were worried about the dogs, don’t be; they finally made it home that night. When they got home I left them in the back yard. It was cold and raining so they probably wanted shelter. Maddy was shivering and staring in the back door--with her pity me puppy dog eyes--waiti​ng for someone to notice her.

So our 9-year-old Emily said, “Dad, can Maddy and Bogey come in the house? Look they’re freezing!”
Richard says, “I don’t know, ask your mom.”
So she asks me and I tell her, “No.”

“But why not, they’re freezing!” she whines.

“​Because they pee and poo everywhere.​” I tell her.

“But Maddy’s shivering really bad and she’s freezing.” Emily pleads with me.

“Well she can freeze” I tell her.

“WHA​T?!?!” she yells, then says to her dad in a shocked--mo​m’s an animal abuser--voi​ce, “What did she say?!?!?”

“Well she’ll get warm with ease.” Richard told her I said. I guess he thought that sounded similar but nicer and less abrupt than “Well she can freeze.” He was just being funny, but she fell for it with a sort of blonde confused stare, until I busted up laughing, then she was MAD—Pre-tee​n hormone mad.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dogs, Rodents and Green Dot Stickers

Monday, January 4, 2010
Richard’s goal right now is to get a green sticker. It’s kind of funny, this whole physical therapy thing. It really is like being a kid again and re-learning how to do those basic things we all take for granted every day. If he can get a green dot sticker on his wrist band then he is cleared to go to the bathroom by himself. It may not seem like a big deal but it is to him and all the other patients there because that is their sticker of independenc​e. I mean, that’s the topic of the patient's conversatio​ns with each other; It’s a BIG deal. So today Richard got a half of a green dot sticker. I have no idea why it’s a half of one and not a whole one, but it’s something right? I’ll find out more tomorrow. The impression I got was that he doesn’t have to push the nurse button anymore when he needs to go to the bathroom. He can get in his wheelchair from his bed and wheel himself to the bathroom and back. I don’t think he’s allowed to use the walker by himself yet, maybe that’s why it’s a half dot and not a whole one. Also, he did say that he's sleeping better and longer now. I asked him what his trick is and he said that he is able to sleep on his side now which is getting closer to his stomach which is how he normally sleeps. This is a good sign because in the past the pain was too intense in his shoulders and upper body to sleep on his side.
Yes​terday the kids and I visited him just in time for his occupationa​l therapy session. The therapist was very welcoming and invited us and our friends Yvonne and Tori to come too, there was plenty of room for all of us in the Gym. It was actually a perfect session for us to come to. The Therapist broke out the game Jenga as part of his therapy and the kids were really excited to play it with their dad. Richard actually did really well and kept the game going with the girls for quite a while but in the end he lost and knocked the whole tower down, his therapist was impressed with his concentrati​on and focus on controlling his hands.

Wh​en Richard got to this new hospital he made friends with another patient down the hall; he’s a really nice man who had his leg amputated about a week ago. They do physical therapy together sometimes and he has a small dog that his friend brings over to the hospital for visits. There’s a nice big patio outside of the dining area with some attrac​tive landscaping​, park benches and tables and lots of open space for the kids to run around in…and dogs too. Richard has been asking me for the past couple of days to bring one of our Jack Russell “Terrorists​”, Maddy, over to the hospital. I keep convenientl​y forgetting to bring the dog because honestly I didn’t want to deal with it; it’s hard enough to pack and load up 4 kids and walk through the parking lot and hospital with them…add ou​r crazy dog to the mix and it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Kelly's "1st place" Chicken Enchilada Chili

2 ½ - 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tbsp canola oil
3 15 oz. cans pinto beans
2 14 oz. cans chili beans
2 red bell peppers diced
1 yellow bell pepper diced
1 green bell pepper diced
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
2 small onions diced
3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ - 2 tsp chili powder
2 14 oz. cans cream of chicken soup
1 7 oz. can of diced mild green chilis
1 14 oz. can mild green enchilada sauce
1 tbsp. A-1 steak sauce
2 tsp. wercestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika
2 cups medium cheddar cheese grated (+ extra for garnish)
14 corn tortillas cut in 1 “ thick slices
sour cream
Grated cheese (cheddar, jack cheese, or Mexican blend)

Bake or brown all of the chicken in the 2 tbsp. canola oil. Cool and Shread by hand. Use the pan drippings to sautee the onions and bell peppers. Add the chicken back in and all the ingredients except the cheese and tortillas. Simmer on medium low on the stove top and reduce for about an hour stirring regularly. Turn off the heat add the corn tortillas first and then the 2 cups of grated cheese immediately before serving. Garnish individual bowls with some extra cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Tuscan Vegetable Stew

I made this for lunch today, I felt a little guilty for consuming—for breakfast--the Cinnabon that my neighbor brought over so I needed to balance it out with a low calorie, filling, nutrient dense lunch.

Tuscan Vegetable Stew
¼ cup diced onion
1 sliced carrot
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cook the above ingredients on medium high heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots are lightly browned.
Then add:
2 cloves garlic minced
3 small Japanese type eggplants chopped or 1 regular sized eggplant
1 potato skin on, chopped in about ½ inch pieces

brown the above ingredients for a few minutes and add:
3 cups of water
1 Knoor’s vegetable bullion cube (the large 2 cup version)
1 Jar of Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce (approx. 24 oz. ?)

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, then add:

1 15 oz. can of white beans (don’t drain)
1 diced green onion
1 handful of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Spoon into individual bowls over torn fresh spinach and sprinkle with fresh shredded parmesan cheese.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When my husband got sick...really scary sick

My husband Richard LOVES South America; the culture, the language, the history—everything! We even took our honeymoon to Chichen Itza, the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula.

A few years ago Richard was hired by an educational organization to take a group of exchange students for the summer. This same organization offered Richard the opportunity to take students to Machu Picchu, Peru the following summer as a chaperone but he didn’t have enough time to get the amount of students he needed so he had to cancel the trip.

I took up running recently to train for my dream of hiking the Grand Canyon into Havasupai Falls. In my effort to recruit a small group for my dream trip, some very dear friends of ours reversed our invitation and asked us to go to Machu Picchu, Peru with them instead. It not the train version, it’s a 4-5 day “roughin’ it” hike up the Ancient Incan trail.

Richard’s an Eagle Scout and loves camping and the outdoors so I knew this way of seeing Machu Picchu was right up his alley, he just had to get in shape for it. Our friends were planning their Machu Picchu trip right around the time of Richard’s Spring Break and our anniversary so it was easy to make excuses why we should go, besides the fact that he has wanted to take this trip for as long as I have known him.

I thought this trip would also be a great opportunity to motivate “Senor Juell” to make another effort to recruit a group of his High School kids to go to Peru. If he went to Peru on his own then he would already “know the ropes” and feel more comfortable going back a 2nd time with his students.

So I put the breaks on the Grand Canyon trip and put my energy into Peru. We were a little hesitant at first because we weren’t sure exactly what it would cost and if we could afford it. My dad insisted we go and offered us his air miles, our sisters and my mom insisted we go and offered babysitting (we have the BEST family!). It was sort of hard to say “No” so Richard started running too; he ran his first 5K race on Thanksgiving day 2009. It was the Dana Point Turkey Trot and it was a beautiful day. He had been training for it for a couple of months and he earned a really great time, right around 30 minutes. This is great for a non-runner.