February’s Read

I swore it wouldn’t happen.

While everyone around me was hacking up a lung or burning a fever or being plagued with strep throat, I was immune.
Totally.  100%.  Immune.

Lesson learned: Don’t speak too soon. Because lo and behold, “it” happened.  I woke up on Monday with a burning sore throat.  Eyes that felt like giant fireballs.  And the energy of a piece of spaghetti.  Totally.  100%.  Limp.

In addition to becoming best friends with the kleenex box and guzzling tons of water, I’ve also been eating copious amounts of whole wheat blueberry muffins…I followed my basic recipe but used whole wheat in place of the white.  Delicious. I may have even enjoyed them more than the original, thanks to the slight nutty, wheaty texture.

I’ve also been eating chili like it’s my job.

(FYI, I don’t lose my appetite when I’m feeling under the weather.  But I most definitely DO have a very limited number of foods that seem to hit the spot.)

Chili and muffins.  Considering the fact that I could only eat frozen bagel bite pizzas when I had pneumonia as a kid, I’d say this isn’t so bad. 😉

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A Book A Month Resolution, 2011

January’s Choice: “Brooklyn”

February’s Choice: “House Rules” by Jodi Picoult

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult.  She really knows how to pull at my heartstrings, making me laugh and cry throughout each of her books.  Each and every one.  I love that.

Chapter by chapter, the characters become more than just fiction.  They become real. A sister, a brother, a friend.   “House Rules” follows the life of a family and a boy who has Aspergers.  A girl becomes murdered, and you’re left wondering the who’s, what’s, and why’s throughout the book.  You want to believe that someone in particular is NOT guilty, but then you’re not entirely convinced that he’s not.  And if he IS guilty, should he be charged?  Was it really his fault?

I loved the beautiful way that Jodi Picoult explained Aspergers.  I loved the way she tied the characters together, showing the strength of a family.  The frustrations.  The anger.  The sadness.  The happiness.  I loved the book.

Loved it.  And highly recommend it. 😀

Question: Do you lose your appetite when you’re sick?

Question: What have you been reading lately?

a bowl of super soup

Tis the season for colds and things.

Bring.  On.  The.  Soup!

I’m proud of the fact that—for the most part—my immune system keeps me far, far away from the little things that tend to plague people.  A head cold here.  A flu there.  They never seem to bother me.  That being said, when I do get sick, I get *sick.*  There’s absolutely no fooling around.  I’ve learned to simply wave my white flag and surrender. 

In other words, I spent most of the day in my pj’s.  Resting.  Relaxing. 

Making a big batch of veggie soup.

 Usually when I make a soup that calls for use of the blender, there is intensive time involved.  Not always.  But usually.  Between the simmering and cooling times, the soup making process is a long one.

Not so with this recipe.  The blending came pre-cooking.  Just a can of diced tomatoes and three cans of white beans.  The consistency—which reminded me of refried beans!!!—made for an awesome thickener.  I need to remember this for future soups!

The rest of the soup recipe was just as easy.  Just as simple.  And it involved many…

…many…

…many, many, many…

…many, many, many vegetables. 

I can practically hear my immune system thanking me. 😉

While the soup was simmering, dad picked up some crusty, artisan sourdough bread to accompany dinner.

The bread was absolutely perfect.  Crusty on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside. 
 

Cold season may be in full swing around here.  But it’s nothing that a little veggie soup can’t handle.

Loaded-with-Veggies Soup Recipe—courtesy of Woman’s Day Magazine

  • 3 cans (15.5 oz each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 bulb fennel, chopped, or 4 cups chopped celery
  • 1⁄2 small butternut squash peeled and cut into 1⁄2-in. pieces, or 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 oz), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 8 oz broccoli rabe (thick stems removed), cut crosswise into 1-in. strips, or 8 oz broccoli florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Olive oil

1. Purée beans and diced tomatoes with their juice in food processor, in batches, if necessary. Pour into a 6-qt pot. Stir in water, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

2. Add remaining vegetables except peas. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in peas and simmer for 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

3. Drizzle olive oil over each bowl of soup; serve with crusty bread, if desired

Question: What is your favorite kind of soup?  I love a soup that’s jam packed with veggies.  Chicken stew is definitely on my list of favorites too. 😀

cold recovery

I don’t know what’s come over me.

Apparently, nobody gave me the memo that you’re supposed to lose your appetite when you’re sick. 

And—apparently—nobody gave me the memo that you’re supposed to crave mostly soup and crackers when you’re not feeling well.

I spent about 10 minutes or so at the Whole Foods’ meat counter on Friday, battling out the question of whether I truly wanted to spend a mini-fortune on ground beef.  Ground, local, 90% lean *grass fed* beef, to be exact.  Was it worth the cost?  Was it worth my returning the local honey jar back to its shelf for another day, another dollar?  Was it worth it?

Short answer: Yes.  Yes, it was.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for the amount of times that I actually purchase and eat red meat, I want to make it count.  I want caramelized onions.  A whole wheat bun (courtesy of Trader Joes.)  And I want the best of the best beef.  Local.  Grass fed.  Delicious. 

(Just remember that grass fed beef tends to be much leaner than it’s grain fed counterpart.  This means (a) reduced heat and cooking time is usually necessary and (b) your beef is going to be much healthier.)

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Unfortunetly, I’m still sick.  But—looking at the sunny side of things—I’d rather be sick now vs. Tuesday when I have to go to a Food Service Directors’ meeting. 

In an attempt to get myself feeling back to normal, I’ve been focusing on:

#1: Tea

#2: Fresh Fruits

Cold, chilly, fruit.  Preferrably of the citrus variety. 😀

Just as a little side note, did you know that Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin?  This means that your body has a limit of what it can hold, and past that certain amount, your body simply flushes it out (think of this like filling up your bathtub to the point where it can’t hold any more…it simply overflows!)  So the next time you’re sick, eat an orange but skip those expensive Vitamin C supplements.)

#3: Baking.

I baked.  Mom baked.  I licked the frosting beaters.

And yes, baking is totally necessary for a full recovery.

Besides, there is a good excuse for having a big sheet of carrot cake in the house right now.  It’s my Pepere’s 78th birthday, and with the entire family having a cookout over his house, carrot cake it had to be!  This recipe is a guarenteed crowd pleaser.  I can’t wait to see how it tastes!

#4: Greens, greens, greens.

There’s nothing like filling up on some fresh produce to make a girl feel like brand new again. 

 Yum!!

I’m not sure if a run is going to happen tomorrow, but you never know.  Sometimes a short little run or a walk can do wonders for clearing up a stuffy, congested head.  😀

Question: Do you normally lose your appetite when you’re sick?

comfort

I’d like to say that I’ve been living it up these past couple of days.  Partying like it’s my business.  Living life to the max in New York City.  Or something like that.

But—really—I consider you guys my friends.  And—really—friends are honest with each other.  Right?  Of course. 

Honesty says that I’ve been cozying up with a box of kleenex, becoming best buds with dark cherry herbal tea, and sleeping till past 8 o’clock.  Yes, it’s true.  I have fully surrendered to the common cold. 

It’s funny how despite it all, I still end up in the kitchen with my apron on.  A wooden spoon in my hand.  Flipping through the pages of a Cooking Light cookbook until landing on Vegetarian ChiliI can’t think of anything I’d rather do right now than cook and eat comforting food.  Chili is my comfort food.

As is cornbread. 

I love this recipe both because it’s (a) amazingly delicious and rustic as well as being (b) completely healthy—I use stoneground cornmeal, whole wheat flour and olive oil to make this bread.  The small amount of sugar and oil help to keep this bread moist and soft, providing you with a slice that’s delicate enough to be crumbled lightly over chili, firm enough to be toasted and spread with butter & jam, and healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast.

I heart this cornbread.   😀

+ greens, garden fresh yellow tomatoes, black olives and olive oil. 

Psychologically, vegetables always make me feel better when I’m sick. 😉

Tell me, tell me.  What is more comforting than sipping on tea, sitting near a campfire, holding a bowl of hot chili and savoring a slice of cornbread straight from the oven? 

Comfort to the max. 😀

Question: What is your favorite “comfort food” to make and to eat?