What Should I Eat?

One Bad Egg

One Bad Egg (Photo credit: fordsbasement)

I LOVE TO EAT, JUST GENERALLY NOT MY OWN FOOD

It’s 8:30 PM and the only thing I’ve had to eat today was the rest of my OCD Banana Smoothie from last night. I think I might be getting bored with them finally, so tonight I’ll take a break. I’m really not that hungry but I do know that once I start, it will be hard to stop. I don’t actually have to “cook” seeing that my husband had “cold pizza” but that was his choice.

We have eggs, always an easy dinner, with toast and some strawberry jam. We’ve had leftovers all week, we haven’t gone out to dinner AT ALL. Trying to save money and not go out. What else can I think of? Greek yogurt is a staple in our house, we do have that and of course more bananas, cheese, bread, over-ripe avocados and bitter chocolate cookies (don’t look at me that’s ALL my husband and daughter.) My son and I tend to like milk chocolate but I’m not saying that this is a meal; this would definitely be a treat. Right.

I usually know exactly what I want to eat, where to buy it and how to make it but storm SANDY has been getting in the way of just about everything. I went to the supermarket once and the shelves were bare, and this was before the storm hit. Now, I am one of those “doubting debbies” and I need to know if the shipment (if there is one) is fresh. Who on earth will tell me “actually ma’am it isn’t fresh at all.” I’m suspicious. Very suspicious.

That brings us down to safe food that I have at home. I’m so sick of tuna, maybe cereal if the milk is still good-the double sniff test is in order. Maybe my daughter’s old stand-by, a grilled cheese. Now, that’s sounding more and more comforting every second. Bread is good, cheese is fine, it’s easy and there is something to be said about plain food when you feel you need it but….boring.

I’m heading down to the kitchen in my pajamas, slippers and bathrobe, with my dog, always hopeful, by my side.  I’ll find something, I always do. It will be comforting and safe and if not nourishing, I will feel nourished and warmed by food I trust. We all have our own comfort foods, mine is usually scrambled eggs with toast, butter and JAM (sorry friends, I know you hate this) but that is without a doubt a strong contender.

I’m padding down to the kitchen now. I won’t end this post until I’ve eaten, I’m sure you want to know. Be back in a few.

****

Yeah, about that. I’m back. It was a combination gone very wrong: multi-grain bread (too hungry to toast it), two fried eggs (big mistake, they should have been scrambled) two pieces of American Cheese (another mistake) flipped over and the whole thing looked like vomit. I did dip it, however, in strawberry jam. Let’s just say it was NOT a success. Even for me. Even my small milk chocolate heart couldn’t make up for it. There’s always tomorrow……

Eating For This And That

English: Individually wrapped slices of Americ...

English: Individually wrapped slices of American cheese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to eating for enjoyment, I’ve realized food choices reflect my mood. When I am nervous I can eat rapidly, going from one food to the other at an alarming rate: sweet, salty, sweet, salty, crunchy, soft, sweet, salty. When I am worried (I’m in that stage now) food has very little appeal to me and I need to force myself to eat.

I remember when my dad was in the hospital for quadruple by-pass heart surgery my mother complained to him that “your daughter has not eaten in three days.” Like he needed to hear that! But, I do remember having to force myself to take a bite of my age-old comfort food, bread, butter and Kraft’s American Cheese (individually wrapped.) My only beverage of choice was a Yoo-Hoo. To this day, if I can’t eat, which admittedly is rare, I will rely on the same things or scrambled eggs with a lightly toasted English muffin with butter and grape jelly (not jam) to put something in my stomach.

Comfort food. The things we had in our childhood that made us feel better. I had a friend whose comfort food was a hamburger. I found it strange but to her it was comforting, that is what her mother made her when she didn’t feel well. It was her version of my American cheese sandwich. What are some of your comfort foods? I’d love to hear about them and why. No judgment here. Love,food and comfort, they unite us all.

Life, Not Made Easy

An elderly couple comfort each other- Part of ...

An elderly couple comfort each other- Part of Paul Ganuchaud’s relief depicting life behind the front-line being one of two reliefs which form the Fort Mahon Plage monument aux morts. Fort Mahon Plage is in the Somme region of France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m 55 years old and still battling the stomach bug I got yesterday. With me, you never know if I caught this from my daughter or if it’s one of Fibromyalgia’s side effects rearing its ugly horse head again. All I know is that what I wanted was to be ten again and for my mom to make me two soft-boiled eggs in a dish, with crumbled up pieces of toast and a pat of butter all mixed together. That’s what I wanted and I didn’t want to make it myself.

I am lucky enough that my mom is still alive and so I called her and told her how I was feeling. “I wish for that too” she said somberly, the effects of getting older weighing heavily on her these past few days. She worries about me and I worry about her, not that it makes any difference at all but it feels good to know someone cares. Life, since my father died has been very difficult for her, for all of us, but on certain days she is inconsolable. Her friends are dying or very sick and getting old “is no pleasure.”

When my husband left today to go back to Rochester for work I felt sad and I couldn’t prevent a tear or two from trickling down my face. It’s hard when he goes but it feels impossible when he goes and I’m really sick. I can handle most everything on my own, Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, but when I get a stomach flu on top of that? I fall apart. I feel vulnerable and scared and alone. This is the worst of Fibromyalgia for me, not the pain or the aches, I can deal with those because I am used to them. It’s when something unexpected comes up that is out of the norm, that’s when I crash and feel vulnerable and all I want to do is stay in my bed and cry.

Since we got the new puppy, it’s like having a toddler again, a biting, misbehaving toddler. I know she is young and will grow out of it but again, when I am not feeling well everything seems like so much of an effort. I’m sure friends would help if I asked them but I usually try to “save” my favors for important things. I’ve decided I’ll be better tomorrow, I have no other choice.

I’ve tried to accept life’s curve balls and I always needed 24 hours to get used to a new, bad, situation. I don’t think I have that luxury anymore. Bad things happen to most of us, except for a lucky few, and it seems like they are happening all the time. Was it always like this? I truly don’t believe so but maybe we were so young and naïve and having fun, we just didn’t notice.

To Comfort Me

Крем чорба од грашка

It is so harmfully cold outside, the temperatures are low and the winds are high so that it makes me not want to leave the coziness of my house. Recuperating from a nasty bout of bronchitis, yesterday I made my chicken soup, starting in the morning with chicken and onions, a carton of frozen peas, a bag of carrots, pepper flakes, a shake or two of salt and slowly simmering it all day long. Making soup is comforting both when I eat it but also when I prepare it. I’m not sure why; I can bake brownies but it doesn’t have that same calming effect.

Tomorrow, I will go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make pea soup: a bag of dried peas in their cozy mesh sack, with pieces of ham steak that I will slice on the diagonal, chopped carrots, celery and onions. There is nothing like comfort than a bowl of  soup on a cold winter night. It’s not as if my mother or grandmother ever made home-made soup when I was a child, actually my mother did make her own chicken soup, I remember that. Maybe my love for soup started there. We also had tomato soup (Campbells) from the can where we would add half a can of water and half a can of milk and we would float a slice or two of Kraft American cheese on top. When we got older we crumbled  those little packets of crackers, Saltines, and we would wind up with a lovely blend of gooey goodness. Mushroom soup too, from Campbells, was always a big hit, made with milk as well.

I will drape a navy blue shawl around my shoulders and sit at the black pearl counter top on a stool by myself. My bowl of soup steaming in front of me, my dog at my feet. The chilliness outside the door forgotten as soon as I settle myself and get the right spoon and the right bowl for my home-made dinner of thick pea soup, made with love. A gift to my family and to myself.

A Best Meal Under Ten Bucks

A cup of hot chocolate, with whipped cream, ci...
A bowl of tomato soup
grilled cheese sandwiches

Baby, It’s Cold and Wet Outside…..

A grilled cheddar cheese (or American cheese) sandwich (my daughter prefers Swiss cheese) on multi-grain bread, a bowl of tomato soup and a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream. You would probably have leftover money for a candy bar if you wanted one. This is a meal that shouts out “COMFORT FOOD” that you can get in any diner or coffee shop; it’s also easy to make at home and really not too junky (you can skip the hot chocolate if you must.) It’s easy to make, takes no time in preparing and it’s so comforting and delicious. Try it, on the house. Let me know how you like it on a cold, wintry day. Just imagining this inexpensive lunch makes me feel safe, warm and satisfied!

Powered by Plinky

Larry And Lola (A Comfort Food Blog)

The Gerber baby, who appears on the packaging ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have a weird relationship with food; in addition to just adoring it I name it.  Apparently, I started really young giving names to food based on the person I ate the food with or the person who introduced me to it. First, there was Larry. I was friends with a little boy named Larry when I was about 18 months. Larry consists of peach baby food (I have advanced to pears and fruit delight) and cottage cheese. Not mixed together. Ever. Eating Larry consists of a ritual dipping of a teaspoon into cottage cheese and then dipping it into Gerber and only Gerber peach baby food. (I honestly feel that I began to love babies because of the Gerber baby picture on all the jars.) Not only did I eat this when I was very young but still eat it on occasion. For freshness and sanitary sake, I now put the cottage cheese in a separate little bowl but eat the baby food right out of the cute, little, smiling baby jar. After all, nobody eats the baby food except for me. My children, when they were growing up did not have the same fondness for Larry as I did.

Lola. Lola is my mother’s best friend. She made a salad (of sorts) that I thought was absolutely delicious when I was a girl and now make it for myself (because no one else will eat it.) I don’t know why but when Lola served Lola everyone seemed to love it. Must have been her charm and charisma.  I made my mother ask for the “recipe” and then made it myself. First, buy a small jar of peas and carrots (go for the brand name, not the generic), drain the juice (or liquid as they say in America), and add mayonnaise (Hellman’s only) to the remaining peas and carrots. Stir. This is Lola and believe it or not Lola saved my life while I was on vacation in Spain because Lola, known as a Russian Salad in Spain, saved me from eating a lot of raw, wiggly fish that I couldn’t stand. In addition I attended a lovely Russian wedding last year and again, we were served a Russian salad that made me squeal with delight when I saw it;  it was, in fact, Lola with hard-boiled eggs. Imagine that. I don’t think Lola knows about Lola. I remember giving an old friend the recipe to make Lola and she burst out laughing uncontrollably when I got to the “drain the juice” part. Apparently she was guffawing because she said “as if anyone else would eat this.” I found that a little insensitive but we are all entitled to our own opinion. For someone whose comfort food was a plain hamburger, I say nothing.

My all time comfort food are soft-boiled eggs (peeled very carefully-this is critcal) in a dish with a teaspoon or more of butter and two slices of toast torn apart and mixed in. All you need to add is a little salt and there it is: ultimate comfort, it really doesn’t get better than that. My back up comfort food is always an American cheese sandwich on bread with butter. Scrambled eggs with Welch’s grape jelly or grape jam (depending on what consistency I want) and another comfort item called banana mush- mush, a dessert item, which is mashed up bananas (use a fork) with sour cream ( now plain fat-free yogurt) with sugar or sugar substitute.

I’ve taken a little survey and some responses to my question “what is your favorite comfort food?” are as follows: a black and white milkshake, brown sugar on bread with butter (rolled like a jelly roll,) buttered Saltine crackers with slices of kosher dill pickles on top, (the originality winner in my book), oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon, Swanson’s chicken à la king (on toast), Campbell’s tomato soup with (Kraft) American cheese and crumbled up Saltines, Yodels (peeled or unpeeled) AND… french fries dipped into an ice cream sundae. The last dish, definitely gets props in terms of combining sweet and salt.  Thanks guys for your help. I’m off to the grocery store now to see if there are new products to buy or to perhaps buy a new comfort food, borrowed from a friend.

How I Stay Healthy??????

Considered a father of Western medicine, Hippo...

Image via Wikipedia

Give Us A Break……

There’s a fundamental mistake here: you are assuming I am healthy and I’m not. Along with thousands upon thousands of other patients I have a chronic pain disease and an auto-immune disease (not to mention others: IBS, narrow angled glaucoma, interstitial cystitis, painful and swollen joints, flare ups and….oh, is that too much? Because I could continue and I could also go blind instantly but that’s another post altogether.

First off, I am really not complaining just commenting and venting. “It is what it is” and it could be a lot worse: pain is not life threatening so I am grateful for that. TRULY. However, Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders ARE extremely painful (and no it is NOT in our minds.) That is totally insulting. Also, there is little to relieve the pain, at best, and certainly no cure. Live with it? Not comforting. If this affected more men than women you bet there would be more research and no tiptoeing around about pain medication. The latest information frenzy that has all chronic pain patients up in arms (and my mother who saw a show on TV!) is that doctors and the media now are becoming increasingly hysterical about dispensing pain medication to THOSE OF US WHO ARE IN PAIN.

To me, it’s idiotic. I have a Doctor who writes prescriptions for Vicodin like they are gummy bears, lots of gummy bears, but when I tell him I have taken one and it doesn’t seem to help the pain, he insists it’s the only pain reliever he can dispense. Does that make any sense to you? Because, Vicodin itself is highly addictive and he writes prescriptions for them all the time YET he won’t write a prescription for half the amount for something different, like, I don’t know, Tylenol with Codeine? What am I missing here? A different class of pain killers? I am not swallowing pain killers for a high, I have tried Vicodin (one pill) on two separate occasions when I was in dire pain. It. Did. Not. Work.

I’m beginning to feel like the chronic pain community should an old-fashioned revolution. All the patients talk about it but I don’t think all of us have spoken directly to the doctors about it. I have but it does no good. Do you know why other patients are reluctant to be honest and I don’t blame them? Because we have to deal with the raised eyebrow, and the ‘are you a junkie quizzical smirk.’ I want to find a Doctor that HAS Fibromyalgia and see what they say!!

Do you think if we have addictive personalities we will misuse codeine and not Vicodin? I KNOW I don’t have an addictive personality, believe me I would have had plenty of opportunities to have one but it’s just not something I would do, want to do or will ever do. Shouldn’t doctors be able to differentiate patients from junkies?

Think about the Hippocratic (Hypocritical?) Oath that says: “First, Do No Harm.” You are causing harm refusing to treat illnesses that are incredibly painful. How about a different warning label? USE ONLY WHEN IN DIRE PAIN. That works! I don’t know anyone personally who would abuse it but I am sure there is a percentage of people who would abuse anything. Don’t punish us, for them. I certainly wouldn’t want to take anything every day if I didn’t need it. My doctor had me on two different medications to prevent pain that didn’t work and I ASKED if I could stop them, he hesitated and I then convinced him and stopped. I WANTED to use as little medication as possible. Frustrating.

In terms of exercise I walk slowly to try to get exercise and if I had the extra thousands of dollars I would probably buy a membership for a gym that has an indoor pool so I could swim but that’s money a lot of us don’t have lying around. My special diet? I usually eat healthy meals, chicken,veggies, salad, pasta, red meat a couple of times every month or two. However, my special chronic pain diet, for comfort since there is no pain relief usually involves Cadbury Creme Eggs, Yodels and Egg Salad Sandwiches. Sometimes comfort, even though it is not a pain reliever, might just make you feel a little bit better emotionally since no one is trying to help us physically.

Powered by Plinky

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, Pick One And Just Eat That

Pancakes & Eggs

Image by Ben Ward via Flickr

I Pick: BREAKFAST, HANDS DOWN

BREAKFAST! Pancakes with sweet maple syrup and a pat of melting butter, English Muffins with cream cheese, butter or peanut butter and jelly, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, egg in a hole, bacon extra well done and crunchy, cereal…. Want more?  Scrambled eggs with cheese or an egg and cheese sandwich on a roll, French toast, sometimes with cinnamon, sometimes plain, cinnamon-sugar toast, a fruit cup, ripe red raspberries, plump blueberries, a sliced banana cut into “coins.” Strawberries and nuts and raisins and brown sugar in hot oatmeal. Your beverage order? Freshly squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate, coffee, tea? Toast or bread with butter and honey. I’m drooling here…….Breakfast is comfort food, I like just about everything. It’s warm, it’s a memory of your childhood, it is sweet cinnamon rolls with vanilla icing. Just one thing, please hold the sausage.

Powered by Plinky

“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (Food Network-Holiday Edition)

Egg Nog Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Image by jwannie via Flickr

It’s holiday time and what would the holidays be like without “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” Holiday Edition, on the Food Network. I’ve rounded up some of the holiday favorites that were talked about on the show by various talented chefs.

For one chef, it was spaghetti with seafood and bread crumbs, (clams and mussels, squid, shrimp, sea urchin.)  Another chef”s favorite were butter tarts, starting with a mini pie crust (baked in muffin tins) butter, raisins, and  brown sugar, I think I am drooling.  For another chef it was beet and carrot latkes for Hannukah. As one of the chefs said ” Hannukah has oil,  Cristmas has butter.”  I never knew that there could be non-potato latkes but I would try them if someone made them for me; I can’t promise that my children would. A rack of pork, pork loin roast with ribs, (don’t forget to brine the pork if you know what that means) and add some herbs and honey and serve with a  compote made of apples and pears, mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It looked delicious but everything looks delicious on television.

Another sworn favorite: the seafood cobb salad featured at Nordstrom’s. Yes, the department store. I’m sure its absolutely delicious but the “best thing you ever ate?”  I will have to take a trip to Nordstroms, AFTER the holidays. My opinion only but it’s a salad! Nevertheless, to each, his own. The next favorite first made me groan and then grin. It was a pannini, made in Nashville. I believe  it was called “The Elvis,” but don’t quote me on that. Bacon, peanut butter, banana, parsley and honey, served grilled on sour dough bread. At first it didn’t sound appetizing to me, but it sounds just nutty enough ( pun intended) to be amazing. Apparently the key ingredient is the parsley, who knew?

Duck ragout with home-made pasta, saffron, and a duck egg, is another chef’s favorite and one more: Indian pudding, served warm, using cornmeal instead of flour, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg and served with vanilla ice cream. I can practically smell the molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg right here at my computer.

My favorite holiday tradition are the foods that bring back happy memories. They are not my favorite foods that I ever ate (look for that in an upcoming blog) but they are steeped in tradition. In our family, Christmas morning begins with scrambled eggs (we fight about how they are made each year, some wanting itsy-bitsy specks of eggs, constantly stirred, others ( like me) prefer the smooth, velvety mounds. Bacon, again, some like it half-cooked and others like it practically burnt. I think the annual arguing, not fighting, is part of the entertainment and a ritual in itself. After the eggs and bacon comes the highlight of every Christmas: Pillsbury’s refrigerated cinnamon rolls, with sweet sugary icing that comes attached in a little plastic cup.

Many years ago, when my sister and I were young, our parents frosted the cinnamon buns. I remember when our parents allowed us to take over. A few years ago (oh dear, it’s probably ten years by now) we passed the tradition down to our kids, “the cousins.” Whether its pork belly or barbeque, waffles or Peking duck,  food and tradition bring families together. For us, the cinnamon rolls and icing are key, not because they are our favorite food but it’s what we remember, together, with great love and fondness, as a family.

These Days

January stinks...

Image by Jinx! via Flickr

I have been feeling extremely discouraged and blue; I’m back to square one, for the sixth time, in my search for a successful treatment for both my Fibromyalgia and auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It’s been over 4 years since my initial diagnoses and I have been given drug, after drug, after drug.  I start a new medicine, each time, with hope and innocence and excitement like a flirtation with a possible new love. Two months go by and then I find out that it was, again, just a fantasy. Side effects are my enemy, I generally am the person that fits in the “possible and infrequent side effects.” Another dream deflected, another dream deferred. Back to the drawing board, again; I eliminate the medicine and so too my hope.

I’m drowning my sorrow in leftover Halloween candy and cookies:  Almond Joy bars, Kit Kat bars, Nestle Crunch, Heath bars, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix bars, Keebler chips deluxe  cookies and pretty rainbow cookies filled with marzipan and jam. For my anxiety attacks that wake me up at 3:00 am and keep me up until 6:00 I occasionally take Xanax, one prescription drug that I trust.

Yesterday, I started Savella for my Fibromyalgia and decided to stop using Arava (an immuno-suppressant drug). True,  Arava kept my energy up but my legs ached continuously,  like someone was squeezing them into a vice and wouldn’t let go. I don’t want to be on as many drugs anymore. I want to simplify my life, my body. It’s always a long stretch between taking the new medication ( 6-8 weeks) to kick in and likewise for the drug to leave my body.  My husband kept mentioning how the Arava gave me energy and he was right but at what cost?  It was only the other day that it occurred to me that I don’t have to live with the side effect of leg pain if I don’t want to. I’ve been on this drug for months and the thought just occurred to me. I have a choice but with that comes the acknowledgment of failure.  Am I so used to pain that I feel it’s acceptable, even normal, to have some?

I’m alone in my search because no one really knows how I feel except me and even I get confused, my symptoms blur together. It’s hard for me to describe pain that is not throbbing, jabbing; how does one explain “constant?” I go by hunches and I try to listen to my inner self. My body is telling me now to get rid of the different chemicals and if I have to, start again, reevaluate in the future. For now, I will try to nurse my defeat with sleep, and when awake, look bravely at the sun in the sky while it lasts. I dread winter; I always dread winter. My bones feel frosty and taut, my body aches with pain and my mood becomes as dark as the early sunset.

*These Days by Jackson Browne

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days, these days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another of these days, these days
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing for so long

Well I’ll keep on moving, moving on
Things are bound to be improving these days, one of these days
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them