Masthead header

July 10 &11, 2020 are the dates we made the last two meals of the 30 Day COVID-19 Cooking Challenge. It has taken six weeks and a few days to find time to write these last two up. They are combined into one blog piece because there is a great likelihood that it could take another six weeks to write the last day of the challenge. Caregiving challenges are consuming.

For day 29 Kate made a whole chicken. It was offered as a special deal for Butcher Box members. She took advantage of it because Butcher Box did not have chicken breasts available for a while. During the spring of COVID-19 some meats were not always available; not like we are used to.

A whole chicken is not something we cook with regularity though if you remember for our fortieth anniversary Tom, with Kate’s help, made a whole chicken for us. He has always enjoyed the experience of cooking a whole chicken, having it for dinner, and then the leftovers. Me, not so much. Too much messy kind of work for not a lot of quantity. He usually says things like “you could make soup with the bones” insert me fainting. When a whole chicken comes into the house it is already cooked by a supermarket as in a rotisserie chicken. They are moist, the meat falls off the bone, it’s tasty with little effort.

Kudos to Kate on the orange blossom whole chicken. It was outstanding. She made a side of summer veggies and rice. Always with the rice, right? As carbs go it’s one of the better ones for a diabetic. At this point in the summer, Tom’s fasting glucose was continuing to climb. It was, and is, worrisome so a side of brown rice it was and continues to be most nights.

For the last meal of the challenge, I made turkey tacos with lettuce as the wrap instead of a fajita. I used a gluten-free taco mix. We had some shredded cheese, light sour cream, ground turkey, salsa, and, yes, some brown rice. It was a relaxed meal. It was a good way to wrap up the challenge.

The 30-day challenge was fun. It gave Kate and me a way to change up dinners. It took us out of our routine in an interesting way. We always had to keep in mind that the food had to work well for a diabetic and be gluten-free for me. Also, it was amazing for me to have someone take on the role of cook every other night. Cooking and clean-up are typically all on me. In fact, most everything is all on me as a caregiver to a person with ALS who also has diabetes. Most recently, we have added insulin shots to the daily routine. As I have shared throughout the cooking challenge diabetes with a side of ALS is a problem that is not going away. The pancreas is simply not able to keep up with the demands, therefore, insulin has been added to address rising glucose levels.

The pandemic is far from over. Kate is back home teaching her third graders virtually but doing so from her classroom. Why from her classroom? She has resources there she does not have at home including her colleagues. As much as we miss her Tom and I are focused on some projects that are impossible to do when there is a guest in the house. We get through this ALS life with projects because a project always gives you something to look forward to. Each day it gives you a tomorrow.

 

 

July 8, 2020 ~Sausage, pepper, and onions. This is one of those meals I remember my mom making and loving it! As long as she made some sweet sausage along with the spicy kind I was good to go. Sausage, pepper, and onions are one of my favorites. My mom did not make it often but when she did it made my day.

The sausage Kate made was from ButcherBox. It had apples and gouda cheese in it. When Kate first mentioned this sausage was in the box I got to thinking: What is gouda cheese?

Gouda has its roots in the Netherlands. It is neither a hard or soft cheese but rather something in the middle, semi-hard. It’s a little creamy, a little nutty. The flavors of the cheese are dictated by where the cows are feeding. This makes total sense and got me thinking about when we were NorCal residents for a few years.

When we lived in Novato, CA, eons ago I remember visiting a cheese store out west in the rural hills of that area. The grasses had a sweet, yet almost bitter scent. We’d go out there for a day trip with the kids once in a while. Get some cheese, sourdough bread, flavored water, and have a picnic outside the store. I’m pretty sure all of it tasted better because the cheese was made there and the cows were in view. Though I wish I had taken some photographs of those moments, it’s okay, because just thinking about it brings me back to the smells, tastes, and sounds of those picnics. Some memories are perfect when they are stored in our minds without photographic proof of their existence. We can enhance them this way and no one can take that away from us with a picture. True, it wasn’t gouda cheese but it was good and to this day I have a love affair with cheese.

The apple gouda sausage we insanely delicious and most definitely repeatable. It wasn’t too high in calories at 270 per serving for the sausage. We had some rice, peppers, and onions for approximately 550 calories per person.

July 7, 2020 -Chicken with Cornbread is a made-up recipe. It’s what most of us do on a daily basis when it comes to making dinner. I figured out what to make on the fly. We do what we must to get some food on the table toward the end of the day. Cornbread is not exactly a great choice. It is a tasty one though which counts for something.

Cornbread with a meal is a classic Southern option. Having grown up in New York cornbread was not commonly made with meals. I could be wrong about this but I don’t think we ever had it with a meal growing up. I would say potatoes or rice were staples for the carbohydrate side with our dinners.

Cornbread has a rich history dating back to Native Americans:

https://www.southernliving.com/veggies/corn/southern-history-of-cornbread-video

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornbread

Cornbread History

For this meal, cornbread was a good addition though not one I would repeat often. I made a gluten-free cornbread. The problem with gluten-free baked products is they tend to be dry. We end up putting some butter or jam or both on it and BAM! those calories increased in no time at all.

To cook the chicken I marinated it in a bit of olive oil and thyme. It was just okay. I had done this pork chops and it was great. I’m not sure why the chicken wasn’t as good.

I added some summer veggies to the chicken and cornbread to round out the meal.

All the way around I’d say this was just an okay meal that I wouldn’t repeat.

July 5, 2020 ~ Meet Mimi. Mimi is our mini Dachshund. She is mostly a nice dog. I wouldn’t say she is sweet as much as she is nice. She has a bit of a growly attitude from time to time. In this photograph, she’s sitting on Kate’s lap after we ate our fabulous dinner. Mimi has a bit of a forlorn look because she knows she’s not getting any of what we had. We do not feed our dogs from the table…most of the time.

Mimi was born in Germany. Mimi was our son’s pup. He got her while stationed in Germany. He couldn’t take her to his next duty station so we adopted her. She is a funny little dog and we are happy to have her as part of the family. She is a true mini weighing in at 8 1/2 pounds. She doesn’t like going for walks or the cold weather. She does like finding a snake now and though and going to battle with it. So far she has survived those fights. The little lizards we have around here haven’t been so lucky. She’s managed to do a number on a few of them.

For this meal, Kate cooked up a surprise. A surprise because I really wasn’t sure what it was going to be. She explained it to me but I couldn’t quite envision it. It was an Italian Chicken Pesto Pot Pie with a side of veggies.

It was a Betty Crocker recipe: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/italian-chicken-pesto-pot-pie/7228d72a-8044-4b49-80ca-27b681c52d7b

Kate subbed in gluten-free Bisquick to fit my need. It was a meal that seemed like it would be higher in calories than it was. It came in at 442 calories per person.

This is an excellent comfort, cold-weather food, though having it in the middle of summer was spot on as well. Five more meals and this challenge has been met with high marks.

Until the next time!

 

Dedicated to my uncle, Joseph Duffy, a Marine who served in the Korean War. I owe my deep sense of patriotism to Uncle Joe. 

July 4, 2020 ~ Like many Americans I love the 4th of July. When I was a kid my Uncle Joe used to take us to a parade. It started at a fire department in Dix Hills on Deer Park Ave just north of the Northern State Parkway. Those of us who wanted to go piled in his station wagon.

My Uncle Joe married my mother’s sister, Mary. They met when they were teenagers in Brooklyn. Uncle Joe’s family was like my dad’s, poor, and moved often. Like my dad, he adored my mom’s family especially my grandma. Gram was a non-judgemental, loving woman. Joe, and my dad, John, found grounding and kindness beyond measure with Gram.

Uncle Joe was a reservist in the United States Marine Corps. When the U.S. began sending the military to Korea he was called up to go. He was of the few who were shipped out before they even made it to boot camp. The young man from Brooklyn, who had never traveled before or knew how to use a rifle, was on a train heading toward the West Coast so fast it would make many of us weak in the knees. He became a Marine on that train, learned how to be a rifleman, and wrote to his mother and Mary. In Korea, he was part of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign: https://www.businessinsider.com/chosin-reservoir-campaign-marine-corps-2014-6 

My earliest memories of the 4th of July was walking over to Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe’s to go to the parade. Uncle Joe got revved up for the parade by listening to big band, parade music. I would hear it coming from the living room window.  Their only daughter, Jean, and I would go to the parade with the little kids in the family. Our moms, Mary and Carol, the sisters, lived next door to one another on Long Island. Between them, there were nine children, four in my family and five in theirs. Jean and I each have two older brothers. I have a younger sister and she has two younger brothers, they were the ‘little’ kids. Jean, me, and the little kids piled into Uncle Joe’s station wagon. We always took the rear-facing seat in the back or way back as we use to say. It was my introduction to patriotism. It stuck with me for life. I felt special all of my life because he was my godfather and took me to parades.

Uncle Joe did not talk much about being in the war or being a Marine. He carried them both with him like another layer of skin.

It never escapes me the sacrifices Uncle Joe made and my son, Sean. Sean has been on five combat deployments. He is infantry. I can’t even begin to fathom what it is to be in the hell of war.

When we celebrate the 4th of July in our family we do so in honor of all of those who have served our great country, therefore, we serve up American food on this holiday: hamburgers, corn on the cob, roasted red potatoes with minced garlic, and ice cream for dessert. No calories were accounted for. We were on holiday.

The roasted red potatoes is a recipe given to me by my beautiful friend, Madge:

  • cut up small red potatoes, a whole bag is what I used
  • melt 2 tablespoons of butter with minced garlic to taste
  • drizzle the melted butter over the potatoes in a baking pan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cook for about 45 minutes at 450 degrees, at the end I broiled them to give them a nice brown top

The corn:

I trimmed the tops of the husks, and took off the old, outer layers of the husks, soaked them in water for about a half an hour, and cooked them on the grill. I put them on one side of the grill while the burgers were cooking on the other side. Burgers and corn cooked for about 16 minutes or so.

Until the next time!