Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chipotle chicken chili is my smack...

[With a zonked out puppy dog draped across my lap, I take no responsibility for any typographical or grammatical errors in the following.  Amos finally got to see his Aunt Michelle after being gone for so long and his Aunt Marie came for a sleep-over or two or three.  He's exhausted from excitement.]

Marie's beloved is traveling, so I wheeled and bargained for a sleepover.  I get her company from tonight through Sunday after lunch, baring the time she has to work.  On the morrow, I am going to brave my first roast pork loin with her, as she cooks up two meals for her freezer.

Today, however, I also got to spend the day with her, since I did a wee bit more organizing at her place.  Really, I absolutely did not deserve the lunch she treated me to at Panera.  For really, the organizing consisted of taking everything out of her closet, repositioning shelves and bins, relocating a few things to her storage shed on the balcony, and then designating new spots for all the things left in her closet.  That part took the tiniest bit of brain power, studying what was in there and asking her questions about how often she used each item.

The end result was a bit impressive, primarily gaining about a third of empty space back.  However, we were finished practically just after I got there.  Her next area she would like to tackle is her bedroom closet, but that is a whole day project.  In fact, it was not until I was sitting on her bed chatting as she packed for her visit that I realized they are living without a dresser in their bedroom.  Smart ... for saving money until her beloved finishes school and receives a call, but difficult to have great organization.  That area will be a true challenge.  Maybe I can look at the utterly delicious and completely satisfying lunch at Panera as a pre-thank-you for broaching the last great frontier in Marie's apartment.

Normally, I would have just chowed down on a chopped chicken cobb salad.  However, I chose the You-Pick-Two and had half salad, half chipotle chicken panini.  Marie even let me get a dessert to save for later.  However, I will note that the best part of the meal is that the bread for our "side" was warm!  I've never had warm Panera French bread before.  Oh, my!

Then, because our initial plan was changed and there was no more organizing that we could fit in, Marie graciously took me to Walmart and fetched my things and what she needed to cook.  Yes, that means I now have a windshield wiper blade that will not merely smear water, snow, and ice around my window.  I also caved a bit in the budget department and spent $16 into next month's groceries, because I was there.  I would like to say that that way I did not need to go to Walmart for several weeks, but I forgot to do my return.  So, tomorrow, after Marie heads out to work, I shall have my blood work done, fetch my Target prescriptions (with my gift card!), do the return at Walmart, and finally drop off the donations that have been riding around in my car for well over a month.  Then, when I am plumb exhausted, I shall come home, lay a fire, crawl into the GREEN chair, and eagerly await Marie's company again.

What was the biggest carrot I dangled for the multi-day stay?  Marie can pick anything from the freezer to eat for her meals ... even if it means she has Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes all three days!  If it were up to me, I would probably be eating Chipotle Chicken Chili each and every day.

Having bartered for the rest of the ingredients I needed, Tuesday night I whipped up another batch.  Currently, there are nine (maybe even ten!) servings in my freezer.  And, yet, still I think that is not nearly enough.  Yes, I already have what I need for a third batch, since my second barter needed another two pounds of chicken and a gift card that so conveniently covered the beans I needed.  Mmmmm........  I am beginning to think that the chili is my heroin—one hit and you're addicted for life!

Since I had a ginormous meal from Panera, I thawed out curry and naan for Marie for dinner, but thought I would just have a potato myself.  [I have many russet potatoes on hand because I bought them, forget I bought them, bought some more, forgot about those, and then bought some more.]  Tonight, I tried my hand at Hassleback Potatoes once more.  The fourth attempt.

These are a culinary white whale for me.  Anyone who claims they are easy to make is lying.  Period.  Getting the slices right without splitting the potato is hard. Stuffing the cuts without splitting the potato is hard.  Getting the seasoning right is hard.  Getting the cooking time is hard.

Marie's was better than mine.  Both were a shade underdone.  I adjusted the cooking time to add a 10-minute window.  I also need to make them when I am less tired, so as to adequately smear fresh garlic paste over all the ones I am making.

At least I understand that the potato needs to do a backbend in the making process and I found a combination of flavors that worked well.  I am certain that the fifth time will be the charm, so I went ahead and posted the recipe.  I do think, however, that the size and shape of the potato is part of the key to success.  For tonight's attempt, I chose ones that were fairly uniform in shape, were medium in size, and were flat-ish in appearance.

My first freezer meal yesterday was the bisque.  It was every bit as tasty as I remembered after making the stock from which it came.  However, a few bites into the bowl, I started thinking about the fact that I was actually eating rutabaga and turnips.  That wretched squeamishness started and I found myself unable to take another bite.  Then, I thought about how many bisques are made and swirled some cream into my still hot bowl.  I finished it off whilst thinking of the cream and not the three icky vegetables I was eating along with the carrots.  Even with the cream, I believe that was the healthiest dish I have ever consumed.  Marie might try it whilst she is here, so I can know if anyone else would find it edible.

I really, really, really do not like that particular weakness.  I am assuming it is from the breakdown in my brain, perhaps tied to the anxiety.  However, I find it rather ... embarrassing.  The odds things, however, turn my stomach and set me to fervently trying to keep myself from vomiting at even the thought, if not the sight.  Case in point, finding dried bits of food in the sink.  Even my own food, somehow missed from cleaning dishes can cause me to lose a meal.  But also dead things ... especially birds, as I think about how much I miss mine that I had to give up.

Wednesday was the first two-real-meal day since I missed my doses of erythromycin.  I had found the serving of the original batch of Dr Pepper Spicy Pulled Pork that Becky had set aside for her beloved, but accidentally left behind. Completely forgotten for the past month, the bag called out to me, despite the fact that I had already had pulled pork tacos this week.  Being that the serving was for her husband, there was enough for three tacos.  Yes, I polished off three tacos on the same day I had a heaping bowl of icky vegetables disguised as a soup.  Then, I had to try the chocolate wine Leslie brought over to go with the contraband Blue Bell.  It. Was. Odd.  It is not that I did not like it, but I would never go out and buy a bottle myself ... because that would mean no funds for something wonderful like Bailey's Irish Cream or Amaretto or the honey liquor.

I cannot imagine anyone drinking the wine outright, unless it was in a shot glass or something.  I am not really willing to move my snoring puppy dog to go look up the name on the label.  However, does one really need to be drinking a combination of red wine, dark (ick) chocolate, and cream???  Probably not, eh?

I believe an update on the de-mullet-ification process is probably due.  Having not cut my hair since removing the "tail" from my unfortunate mullet at the end of July, my hair has been growing out from being textured and short rather short up top.  Finally, if curled to obscure the raggedy ends, my hair looks relatively normal again.  It is not near long enough to find someone to clean it up for me, since there are short pieces still just below my ears and all manner of unevenness.  However, I decided to see if I might at least have stubby braids yet.


I believe that I won't be ready for professional repair work on my hair until this summer.  But ... then ... where will I go?  I am not going back to Great Clips even if I had fantastic haircuts for 18 months before receiving a mullet when my glasses were off and my eyes were closed.  Mostly, even if the migraines return, I want my braids back. In fact, I want my waist-length braids back.  Who cares that someone closer to 50 than she cares to think about ought not to have hair cascading down her back.  I'll never be a member of the blue-hair club.  I am a wall-flower hermit. And I have no one to impress with my lack of comeliness.  Why not have the hair of child on the head of a middle-aged mess of a woman?

I do miss the days when I could blink and my hair would have grown an inch or two.  I guess every part of me is exhausted.  Even my follicles.

You know this whole communicating with your cardiologist thing?  I wrote for the third time about the chest pains I have, using all manor of describing words.  I get that all the other cardio symptoms I have (save for the swelling in my lower legs) have been clearly explained by the doctor as being part and parcel to how dysautonomia affects the autonomic cardiac function in my body.  However, feeling  pain that is pressing and tearing and boring into your chest in the same darned spot right over your heart is really, really, really disconcerting.  It is particularly disconcerting with a family history of heart attacks about this age ... and younger.

But ... it might be that this is the week of his vacation.
I hope it is, actually.

Three days in a row, then not one, then every other day.  The pain has both awoken me and kept me from being able to concentrate on a book or a movie.  On days when I have the chest pain, I also often have this very weird symptom in which the palpations I feel in my heart actually radiate down the inside of my arms, past my wrist, into the palms of my hand.  On my right wrist, this artery pops up and pulsates just beneath the skin.  My heartbeat reverberates through my palms against whatever I am touching.  So, I will try to keep from touching anything.  It is especially distracting if I am touching Amos, though, because his heart beat does not match mine, so if my hands are resting on his body in the right place, I feel both our heartbeats in my palms ... a discordant sensation if ever there was one.

Nerves are a curious thing.  A mystery really.  Why it is that the autonomic processes in my body become so disrupted is very much a medical mystery.  I mean, many of "us" have the same symptoms and yet many have also very individual symptoms.  Much in the manner of the central nervous system disease that is multiple sclerosis.  Having both ... is horrid.  But I would willingly having a much more severe condition of MS if it meant that I did not have to face all the sensations and pain of dysautonomia ... and the innards writhing, of course.

Maybe this is a lie ... but I think I would trade a worsening of MS ... gladly ... for a cessation of the anxiety.  Life as an anxious person is ... difficult.

As she was getting ready for bed tonight, sweet and merciful Marie took absolutely no offense as I stumbled my way through explaining that the cup she chose for her water-by-the-bed was my Gatorade cup and I needed it back.  Instead of being offended or hurt or judgmental or ridiculing, Marie merely explained that she preferred plastic to glass when it came to a cup by her bed in case she knocked it off the table.  That I can understand.  After finding a suitable replacement for her water-by-the-bed, I tried really hard not to snatch up my Gatorade cup and clutch it to my person.

Yes, I have two of them.  However, I need both available, because I oft forget one by my bedside if I have been sugar-correcting in the middle of the night.  And, yes, both of those glasses are ones that change color with the temperature of the liquid in them.  That they are these childish, ridiculous cups oft helps me get through the upsettedness that follows a bad blood sugar crash.  Plus, well, I like them.

I do wish that I remembered Marie is a water-by-the-bed person.  I think I would like to make a notebook ... or maybe a spreadsheet ... to keep track of the things that the people who visit me like.  For example, Becky likes to have orange juice when she visits and her favorite "candy" is Peppermint Patties (gross!).  My mother has to have Equal on hand for her coffee, which cannot be decaffeinated, and she wants flannel sheets on the bed all year round.  Wynne really likes those Starbucks mocha frappuccinos that you can get in the grocery store.  I believe it is important to consider the desires and longings of your guests if you wish to provide a restful, peaceful, and bolstering stay.  However, I am forgetting those things even for the few who do visit.  A spreadsheet would work best, maybe, with categories for kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.  After all, not everyone is a washcloth sort of person.

I shall have to ponder the best way to preserve such information and then get to polling potential guests for their preferences.

[Alliteration is a great gift from God.]

I am yours, Lord.  Save me!

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