Posted in food, Uncategorized


I cook. I actually love to cook. That hasn’t always been true. While it may be rare to see a recipe here on this site, I had to share this one.

I am German/Swiss by heritage on my father’s side and I have lived in the South (Texas) for over 20 years now. Traditional food on New Year’s day for German heritage is pork and sauerkraut and for the South, black-eyed peas.

I haven’t been a fan of black-eyed peas, and due to dietary restrictions, I’ve had to lay off my traditional New Year’s Day pork – bratwurst. Last year, I played around with this dish, and this year, I perfected it.

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Many Traditions New Year’s Day Hash


1 pound ground meat (turkey)
1 can blackeyed peas (Goya or Bush’s)
1 cup sauerkraut (glass jar only! Vlasic)
1/8 cup bacon bits
Penzeys Bavarian and Bratwurst seasonings to taste
Salt to taste


Prepare meat in skillet until cooked thoroughly. Drain off any excess liquid.
Sprinkle in 1/8 cup bacon bits.
Add Bavarian and Bratwurst seasoning to taste.

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When meat is cooked, add 1 can blackeyed peas (drained).

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Simmer for 5 minutes then add 1 cup of sauerkraut (drained).

Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Add more seasonings to taste.


Do you have any food traditions for New Year’s Day?

Posted in bariatric surgery, breast cancer, femininity, food, tamoxifen, weight loss

DISTORTED IMAGE (and being comfortable in stretch-marked skin)

I took this photo before I went in for my first meeting with my bariatric surgeon, Dr. Davis, last Friday. I was waiting outside in front of the elevator bank since the office staff had not returned from lunch so I decided I wanted to take a “before” photo.  My hands were shaking because I was slightly nervous, and this is how the photo turned out.

When I saw how fuzzy it was, I immediately considered it a success. I look at myself and I do not see this person at all in this way. It’s a distorted, fuzzy image of me.  When I see photos of myself I am in disbelief. Who is that chubby person? When I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful, shapely person. I do not see fat arms, two chins and hips wide enough to double as an inflated flotation device.

I can’t pinpoint when the transition happened.  I used to look in the mirror and see fat everywhere. Fat, fat, fat. Big girl. I didn’t want short hair because it would make my face look fat. I would never, ever tuck in a shirt, because people might see my fat butt or stomach. Fat calves. Fat arms. FAT.

My hair is now the shortest it’s ever been and I love it. I I love my sassy hair and sassy glasses and sassy attitude. I don’t care that the jeans I’m wearing right now are size 20. I wear sleeveless shirts and I don’t care what my arms look like.  When I look in the mirror, I see beauty.  I see a woman who is comfortable in her stretch-marked skin.

The decision to have bariatric surgery has been a difficult one. I have fought having the surgery for a year. So when I sat down with Dr. Davis, I did so because I finally decided to do whatever it takes to improve my health. In three months or so, I will have the surgery, and then the real battle will begin.

I understand now why bariatric patients go to support groups. I cannot believe how unbelievably cruel people can be. Everyone has an opinion, and though most have been supportive, there have been a few who have ignored my boundary and let me know how much they are appalled by my decision.  Those negative, judgmental people want me to know I don’t have enough faith, that I am just lazy, and my weight loss doesn’t count because I won’t have to work for it.  Other people have let their feelings be known in less direct ways, but the sentiment is still there.

Not one of those people has walked in my shoes or lived my life.  They don’t know my medical history.  They don’t realize that when you are taking medications that make it impossible to lose weight, losing weight is, indeed, impossible.  Instead of encouraging me, or lifting me up, they’ve chosen to throw stones and discourage me in sometimes hurtful ways.

Negative comments tell me quite a bit about how much research or knowledge those people have about obesity and the hope this surgery gives. If they had done any research at all, they would know many bariatric patients have tried everything to escape their prisons of fat and surgery is the end of the line. Bariatric patients are choosing a life-altering, path-changing procedure and it is by far more difficult to admit they cannot achieve their weight loss by themselves than to repeat the cycle of diet insanity.  After 25 diets that don’t work, why not try something else?

I’m a breast cancer survivor. Last summer I had second degree radiation burns in a very tender area. I went to work every day.  I got treatment every day for 33 days.  I was exhausted and in pain every day.  I walked one of the toughest paths I’d ever had to traverse.  I didn’t take the easy way out then, and I’m not choosing an easy path now.  Life after surgery will be one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. And I will face it.

My body is broken, but my spirit isn’t. I’ve asked Dr. Davis to help me put my body back together and getting it working optimally again. The next three months of anticipation of the surgery will hopefully fly quickly as I prepare physically and mentally for the aftermath of surgery – which will be a battle every day for the rest of my life.

I’m grateful for the people who lift me up every day – in person, via email, text, Facebook, Twitter.  I need your support so much as I go on this journey.  You know who you are, and I love you all.

Posted in food, holidays, pics


Today was a fun, relaxing day. We started out with breakfast around eleven, then met Robin at Luby’s for a late lunch at 3 p.m. (Thanks, Robin, for lunch!) We stopped by to say hello to our favorite little girls and their families, then came back to watch tv and chill.

The Colts are playing… and so far, the monkeys are not pleased.

Jene’ has to work tomorrow, the busiest day of the retail year. I will be decorating the Christmas tree and chilling out at the house.

The only items cooked in our kitchen today were sausage rolls and eggs for breakfast, and between breakfast and lunch, Jene’ made us a banana cream pie for dessert.

This pie was made completely from scratch from bottom to top. Because it’s made from scratch it has significantly less sugar and at least twice the protein of an ordinary banana cream pie which makes it the perfect dessert for me. It’s not too rich or sugary and an hour later, I don’t have the “you really shouldn’t have eaten that…” headache.

Here is a photo essay of the creation of the banana cream pie.

And, now that I’m sitting in here and my nose is cold, I’m going to dig out my new electric blanket and get toasty… and hopefully the Colts will make the monkeys happy soon.

Posted in food, random


I have bad popcorn karma, or, more specificially, bad microwave popcorn karma.

When I make microwave popcorn, 25% of the time the bag catches fire. This happens for many reasons, the main one being that I, up until a few months ago, refused to use the handy popcorn button on the microwave.

I’ve burned so much popcorn, I have been banned from making it at work without supervision (in other words, if I want popcorn at work, someone else has to make it for me). I’m pretty sure if I can’t get this popcorn issue under control, I’ll soon be banned from making microwave popcorn at home.

Tonight, I threw a bag of microwave popcorn in, hit the magic popcorn timing button, and started talking to Jene’. Then I smelled the smoke.

Unfortunately, though I once lived in Indiana,
I cannot seem to get the spirit of Orville Redenbacher to help me with this problem.

Turns out I had thrown in a mini bag of microwave popcorn and pushed the button for a bag twice it’s size. Hence the smoke.

I put out the smoldering remains of my popcorn in the sink, apologized for the smoke and sprayed odor eliminating spray throughout the apartment. Then I threw a large bag of popcorn in the microwave and pushed the appropriate button. Nothing burned.

My unburned popcorn is now finished… and hopefully the smoky air will dissipate before I go to bed.

Posted in food, holidays


It’s nearly three in the afternoon and the leftovers are safely tucked in the refrigerator. First of all, I am proud to report I didn’t burn anything, and that includes myself.

At 9 AM, I made my way downstairs to make coffee and get the turkey ready to be violated. I washed it (without soap, this is a good tip) and took out the neck and reached inside its… and pulled out the gravy bag and the bag of livers and giblets. Disposed of all three.

Rub turkey with poultry seasoning. Another tip: leave the lid on and sprinkle. Jene’ caught me as I took the lid off and was about to pour seasoning on the turkey. I don’t know what I was thinking there.

Seared turkey in oven near 450 degrees for 20 minutes. This seals in all the juice of the turkey without having to use a bag and you don’t have to baste it. It’s so easy, even I can do it. Then the turkey cooked for nearly two hours at 325 degrees. Turkey turns out nice and moist.

Jene’ made the green beans while I made dressing and got it ready to be put in the oven after the turkey came out.

Pictures were taken of the pie and turkey to post later.

The rolls cook for about twenty minutes and are topped off with butter and returned to the oven to brown. They were not as fluffy as they could have been, but they were still mighty tasty.

The dressing went in the oven while I… carved the turkey.

Okay, mangle is a better word for what I did to the turkey. I tried to carve it, but our electric knife died a horrible death a while back, so I had to carve it. Perhaps if I’d chosen a serrated knife there would have been less mangling. It was still very good, even in the small pieces.

I peeled five pounds of potatoes and cooked them. It didn’t boil over (wow) and when I was finished adding the butter and cream (hey, it’s Thanksgiving, calories don’t count) they were perfect.

Everything tasted good (yay) and nothing was burned (an accomplishment for me). From start to finish, four hours, but because of preparation the night before and my clean as you go rule, I had plenty of time to sit down in between tasks and enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I would be taking a nap now if my walls weren’t shaking. My neighbor two doors down has decided that she has to listen to Sade with her door wide open. I did go visit her and said hello and suggested that if they were indeed going to have a party, if they turned the bass down (or shut the door) it would go a long way in helping me (and everybody else at this end of the complex) take a nap.

She had a tough time believing I lived TWO doors down and could hear her music. I said I couldn’t hear it. I could feel it and then I think she got it. She did turn it down slightly, so while my walls are shaking, my windows aren’t. Hopefully her husband will return soon and make the adjustment (I hope he does anyway. This is annoying).

All in all, a good day. Jene’ is napping on the other side of the apartment, so she is not feeling much of this at all… which is good, she needs sleep.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

Posted in food, holidays


It’s that time of year again, folks, the season where I timidly enter the kitchen and do everything Jene’ tells me to do.

I will note here that my mother has passed on from this life, but she never really passed on any lessons from the kitchen. I did learn to how to turn the dishwasher on, how to prepare Soup Starter, and how to cook eggs in the microwave. No blame is assigned, this is just one of many reasons why I don’t do much cooking.

Jene’ works retail and worked from 7-4 today and will work 11-6 on Friday. She had a migraine this past weekend and doesn’t feel well. This translates into ME doing a lot of things that are foreign to me. Like baking.

Alas, I volunteered for baking duty, one to help Jene’ out because I know she’s tired and needs her rest, and two, to get to wear the apron I made when I was 14 and took Home Economics. Incidentally, Home Ec was also the last time I made a pie (which is different than assembling a pie – buying a crust and tossing a can of cherry pie filling into it).

Jene’ makes these incredible dinner rolls every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She doesn’t measure, she just starts throwing flour and yeast and eggs and milk and butter and sugar and salt around after the flour dust settles, there’s dough ready to rise.

It seems so simple. I watch her and try to translate what she’s doing into terms I can understand. Therefore, cooking for me is best measured out and exact like a science experiment. That sort of thing I can do. I can follow directions.

Jene’ asked me to make the dough for the rolls while she was at work today. Therefore, I was home alone baking SOLO. A frightening combination that always yields interesting results. With the job she works at, Jene’ is not accessible so I couldn’t really pick up the phone and ask questions. I could always call Jene’s Mama, but I’m 36 and really should be able to make dinner rolls by myself without the aid of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. (Mama, I had my cell phone in my pocket in case of emergency or fire, or both, but thank goodness neither happened).

Last night, Jene’ left the Betty Crocker cookbook (which I purchased years ago and is still in mint condition) open to a recipe for dinner rolls. It has exact measurements. Directions. Should have been easy, right?

At 2:30 pm, I assembled all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. I had a little trouble finding the yeast, then remembered that dry, active yeast lasts longer in the refrigerator and I finally found it and set it out with the rest of my science experiment.

Mixing the yeast and flour went well. I whipped up the two eggs in a separate bowl, as directed. I combined the milk, salt, sugar and butter in a sauce pan. It was all going so well. Then I got cocky and put the eggs into the milk/butter combo and then read I was supposed to heat it up.

I am familiar with egg drop soup and how it is made and this knowledge crept in as I wondered how I was going to get myself out of this mess without starting all over and wasting milk and eggs.

A “brilliant idea” then hit me: Remove stick of butter and put it in rinsed out bowl where eggs should still be. Microwave butter to melt (as directed) and then poured it back into the milk combo, catching the part of the eggs in the mixture that had transfered to the rinsed out bowl… the part that had cooked like the egg in egg drop soup. I heated the mixture slightly (but as I found out later, not enough) and combined with the flour as directed.

The big, I can twist your arm off in five seconds mixer that Jene’ has in the kitchen is tricky. If the kneading rods aren’t put in just so, the mixer has a tendency to want to leap off of the counter when the dough gets thick. Fortunately, I was between the mixer and the edge of the counter.

Apparently if the recipe says to grease a bowl, they don’t mean cooking oil. They mean something like Crisco. I had never seen Crisco in my house growing up. My aunt used it, but my mother did not. My grandmother used something like it, but I’m not sure what it was. My great grandma Pearl used lard. My mother, who majored in Home Ec in college, would grease a pan with oil. She would take oil and put it on a papertowel and rub that around the bowl and it would then be “greased.” She would do that or use Pam cooking spray when a recipe called for a greased pan.

Tip: Pam cooking spray is also good to spray on the lug nuts on your tires, because they come off much quicker that way when you have to change the tire. Just ask the tire changers on NASCAR pit crews.

But I digress. I did not use Crisco. I used oil. This made my dough ball slick, but it did not seal it as Crisco would. (This oversight was tended to by Jene’ when she arrived home).

After an hour, I expected the dough to rise to scary heights and I could get the joy of punching it down, but it had not exceeded my expectations. Apparently, the HEAT in the milk/sugar/butter mixture helps it rise quickly. By this time, however, Jene’ was home and told me to boil some water in the microwave and then stick the dough inside to let that warm moisture help it rise.

Dough is finally punched, and little balls of dough are placed in GREASED pan by Crisco greased hands. Apparently a smooth ball of dough is desired, and made by flattening and then bringing the corners in.

Tip: Stretching the dough is not desired. Twisting the little bit of dough off the main ball of dough, is best.

Rolls are ready to bake for tomorrow. One project down, one to go.

Then Jene’ asked which kind of pie I want and tells me I’m going to bake it. Pumpkin it is. First, however, I must make pie crust. I am the pickiest person in the world when it comes to pie crust. If the crust isn’t flaky and light, I usually don’t eat it. In fact, Jene’s pie crust is one of the few pie crusts I will eat.

1 1/2 cups of flour in a bowl with 1/3 cup Crisco blended in with pastry blender after the flour and Crisco sit in the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Also put a cup of water in the freezer to get cold. After the Crisco is blended in, add the cold water in until a good, stiff dough is made.

(Note: until I recently purchased a potato masher, I have been using the pastry blender to mash black beans for my black bean dip).

Another good tip, in case you didn’t know, a good way to measure Crisco is to fill up a measuring cup to 2/3 with water and spoon Crisco into the water until it displaces to 1 cup. Then you know you have 1/3 cup of Crisco without having to spoon it out of a measuring cup and make a big mess (as I am apt to do).

I rolled out the crust into a circle while Jene’ checked her e-mail. The first thing I did was remember to put flour on the counter and the rolling pin (learned that in Home Ec 22 years ago and still remembered that… No dough stuck on rolling pin for me).

The crust, of course, rolled out into a nice circle and promptly split three inches toward the middle. The crust was too dry to re-roll into a ball and start over so I did a very creative patch job and continued to roll it out. It will be interesting to see how that part of the pie turns out.

Making the pumpkin pie filling wasn’t nearly as scary or difficult and went quickly and smoothly. I poured everything together and set the timer.

* Big points to me for remembering to preheat the oven. *

Other than the pie baking about five minutes too long (it did not burn, though), I came through tonight’s experience unscathed. The kitchen is clean again, and I will rejoin Jene’ downstairs at 8:30 AM to prepare the turkey for cooking.

Apparently, I have to stick my hand up this turkey’s…

Posted in food

The Amazing Cake Recipe

The amazing cake recipe from my birthday surprise…

Jene’s Chocolate Cake

2 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup boiling water

Grease and flour pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all the dry ingredients. Beat eggs and add all wet ingredients except water. Add wet to dry and mix for 2 minutes. Add in water. Batter will be thin.

Pour into prepped pans, for a 9X13

bake 35-40 min.

(this is a variation of an old Hershey’s recipe)

Posted in food


Rule #1 Don’t leave the Easter basket sitting on the coffee table and leave the blinds open, too.

Rule #2 Don’t eat all your jelly beans at once. (Smucker’s jelly beans are really good but those green apple and orange ones are tart).

Rule #3 Don’t go buy more Easter candy just because it’s on sale (i.e. dark chocolate Hershey hugs…)

Rule #4 Anything choclate made in the shape of an animal is cute, but usually doesn’t taste as good as it looks.

Rule #5 Peeps. Just say no.

I have a tummy ache…