Sunday, September 29, 2013

sunday afternoons

sunday afternoon, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is what it looks like around our house on Sunday afternoons...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Veggie Tortilla Soup

I needed a quick dinner.  I had not planned ahead.  This is nothing out of the ordinary.  But now that the weather is getting cooler,  I have the perfect excuse to throw together some soup!

I started with some olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  I added half a large chopped onion and one clove of minced fresh garlic.  When that was soft, I added 2 corn tortillas I had cut into small squares (this acts as a thickener and adds some corn flavor).  I added 2 handfuls of kale out of the garden.  I poured in a few glugs of Will's beer to help the kale wilt, and let it cook down for about 5 minutes.

After that, I added a can of diced tomatoes and about 2 cups of chicken stock.  I threw in some toasted and ground cumin, ground chile arbol and some chile powder.  I let it simmer about 10 more minutes.  Lastly, I threw in a few handfuls of frozen white corn.  It hung out and simmered another 5 minutes.

I served it with a dollop of Greek yogurt and diced yellow tomatoes from the garden.  On the side we had the last of the chicken cheddar muffins.

Not bad for a Tuesday afternoon!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

breakfast dagwood

breakfast dagwood, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

I love breakfast sandwiches! This one was easy- just bread, ham, tomato and scrambled eggs- smothered in melty muenster cheese.

More old family photos....

aunt tee, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

I think this is my Aunt Tee and her husband, but honestly, I don't know. I love this photo, though.

Awesome Sunday Lunch

sunday lunch, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Here's a cheese and fruit plate.

Black Rice Salad with Whiskey-Braised Swiss Chard and Feta

Devin loves black rice (sometimes called Forbidden Rice).  He found it at Whole Foods a few months back.

To me, it has the texture of wild rice, but is much sweeter.  I have used it the same way I would use regular or brown rice.  I usually make it in my rice steamer, using the same 2:1 liquid to rice ratio, but adding a little extra liquid to make sure it gets done.  It is definitely toothier than white rice, though, so don't be expecting soft rice.

So here's what I did:

I cooked about a cup and a half of black rice in my rice steamer, using half chicken broth, half water as the liquid.

During the last 10 minutes or so of its cooking time, I went out and grabbed a few handfuls of swiss chard from the garden and chopped it into strips (I usually chop off the long stems, roll the leaves up and cut them- like a chiffonade).  I put on my skillet and used a little olive oil and a little bacon drippins, then chopped up a clove of garlic and 2 shallots.  I don't turn on the heat until the fat and aromatics are in the skillet- that way as the fat renders, it picks up the flavors of the garlic and shallot.

When that was sizzling, I added the swiss chard, then a few glugs of whiskey. I threw in a few dried cranberries, then turned up the heat a bit and let it wilt down.  It probably took about 10 minutes.

I roughly chopped about a cup of sugar snap peas and threw them in to get warmed up, and then let it go about another 3 minutes.

When the rice was done I put it in a large bowl, then added the chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta (about a cup), and dumped in the swiss chard mixture.  I dressed it with a little balsamic vinaigrette to bring out the sweetness of the rice.

I served it warm- but I packed the leftovers to take for lunch tomorrow- I'll probably eat it without warming it up.  I'm sure the flavors will have festered and it will be twice as good tomorrow!

Aunt Bessie on the Porch

aunt bessie porch, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

The girl on the far left is my Aunt Bessie. I think she is beatiful! And the scenery in the background couldn't be more classically Southern.

The only thing I know about the picture is it was taken somewhere on Isle of Hope.

Scattering his ashes...

ash scattering 4, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is a picture of my mother scattering my father's ashes in the Savannah River.

More Family Photos...

ann mcginty, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Here's my beautiful cousin, Ann McGinty.

Chicken Cheddar Muffins

This morning I wanted to try something new, but I didn't have a recipe for what I had in mind.  Not that I've ever let that bother me before...

I have been trying to clean out my pantry and get rid of the things I bought on a whim, but hardly ever use.  Bisquick is one of those things.  I bought a giant box of it a few years back and it's been sitting in the pantry ever since.

I decided to make muffins with some leftover rotisserie chicken.  I shredded the chicken and grated about 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese.  The Bisquick box didn't have directions for muffins, so I decided to wing it.

I put what was left of the Bisquick in a bowl (I'd guess it was about 2 cups, maybe a little more).  Most of the directions for stuff on the box called for milk, but I had some buttermilk in the ice box I needed to use up.  Amount?  I have no clue.  I put the dry mix and the cheddar and chicken in a large bowl and added Bisquick until it looked like a stiff muffin dough/batter.

I over filled a 6 muffin tin (after adding Spongebob cupcake liners) and put it in a 450 degree oven for about 18 minutes.

The resulting muffins were pretty darn good!  I can't wait to try a ham and swiss version that doesn't have that weird chemical Bisquick flavor.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Dog has School Spirit!

bear wig, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Bear was helping me decorate my new classroom over the summer.

roast tomato prep

roast tomato prep, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

I just like this picture. It makes me feel fancy. :)

Uncle Jack

Uncle Jack, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

A very handsome picture of my Uncle Jack.

Jeffrey and Jackie

Jeffrey and Jackie, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Here is an old picture of my cousins, Jeffrey and Jackie.

chicken chili

chicken chili, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.
This was Devin's birthday dinner. I found the recipe on Pinterest, of course.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, except for the bacon. I didn't add any because I was too lazy to cook it.

Here's the link to the recipe..

I really liked it. It might become my regular chili recipe for the fall. You can use any kind of meat, not just chicken!

Skillet American Chop Suey

This is one of those dishes everybody ate as a kid- or at least some version of it, anyway.  There are as many variations as there are home cooks.  I've never used a recipe to make it, as I'm sure my mother didn't.  It was a way to use up odds and ends in the fridge and get dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.

So this version started with a large onion, and a clove of garlic, chopped.  I also added about 5 sliced mushrooms (they were getting very close to science project status in the crisper drawer), and some red pepper flakes.  Once that got started, I threw in a pound of ground hamburger and let it all cook until the meat was no longer pink.  At that point, I poured in what was left of a bottle of red wine.  If I had to guess, I'd say maybe a cup.  I let that cook over medium heat while I put the egg noodles on to boil.

While the noodles were cooking, I added a can of crushed tomatoes and about a cup of leftover marinara sauce to the pan. I checked for seasoning and added a little salt.  After the sauce had tightened up a little, I added the now-cooked egg noodles and mixed it all up.  I topped it with sliced of fresh mozzarella, then put the whole skillet under the broiler to melt the cheese.

I served it with some grated parmesan cheese.

Pics from Summer 2013

low country boil, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is the low country boil my Uncle John put together while I was home in Savannah this summer.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Family Pictures...

bobby, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.
This is my half-brother Bobby.

blueberry waffles with blueberry compote

blueberry waffles, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.
So this breakfast was a total cheat. For some reason, I had a box of blueberry pancake mix in my pantry, and I really wanted to get rid of it. So I mixed the waffles up according to the package directions (except I used buttermilk) and I added some fresh blueberries. While the waffles were working, I made some blueberry syrup/compote by putting the rest of the basket of blueberries in a saucepan with some dark brown sugar and about half a cup of water. I added a dash of cinnamon and let it work away until all the waffles were done. At the last minute I mashed the compote with a potato masher, then served them together.

Devin loved these!

blackened steelhead on corn salad

So for this super quick dinner, I made a quick corn salad by cutting the kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn and sauteing it with some Vidalia onion. After a few minutes I added some halved grape tomatoes and turned off the heat. Then I crumbled in a handful of feta cheese.
For the fish, I took 2 pieces of steelhead trout, and seasoned them with Zatarain's Blackening Seasoning. I quickly pan-seared them and served them on a bed of the corn salad.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

biscuits and gravy, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.
Here's a shot of my last batch of cream biscuits and sausage gravy. The biscuits are made with heavy cream and self rising flour. The sausage gravy uses a pound of ground breakfast sausage, broken up and cooked. Add a few tablespoons of flour and let it cook for a few minutes. Then add a couple of cups of milk, a bit of fresh nutmeg, salt and lots of ground black pepper.

My Beautiful Boot!

beautiful boot, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.
Here's my boot in all its glory.

Air Plant

This is an air plant.  My friend Diane sent it to me as a get well soon gift earlier this summer.  I think I've finally found a plant I can't kill!  It doesn't require any water- just air.

So far it is doing just fine. :)

That 70s Christmas

I was going through the pictures on my phone this afternoon, and came across some old pics my mother and I found while we were cleaning things out at her house over the summer.

This pic shows our living room in the early 70s.  Christmas doesn't get much groover than this.

Reflections on the Summer of 2013

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest.  Around Labor Day I began noticing a trend in the blogging community- everyone started posting their reflections on their summer.  I read many of them. I really only liked one.  This particular blog post did the obligatory indexing of summer activities, but toward the end, the writer began to look back over summers past.  The blogger ended with a charge for the reader- think back and remember the summer that changed you.

As I thought about it, I realized that at least in recent memory, the Summer of 2013 is that summer for me.

But I can't categorize it easily.  I can't say it was the worst summer of my life, but I certainly can't say it was the best, either.  As a matter of fact, I feel like I wasted the whole thing.  If I had known at the beginning of the summer what I knew by Labor Day, I'd request a do over.

So- what about the Summer of 2013 changed me forever?  On August 7 I woke up from a routine colonoscopy and found my right leg pretty much useless.  Apparently, during the procedure I suffered a stretched nerve.  I had no feeling from my knee down.

I don't remember much about that first day.  The doctors all reassured me that it was temporary and the feeling would return- but it might take a while.  I vaguely remember 2 ladies coming to see me about physical therapy.  I spent about 15 minutes with them and received a pair of crutches and a wheelchair ride out to the car.

I remember everything about the second day.  It was awful.  I was hoping to wake and find out it had all been a dream.  But it wasn't.  I laid in bed all day and ate nothing.  I was trying to maintain my composure, mostly for Devin's sake.  I could do nothing by myself.  I could not walk well on the crutches, so I could not walk to the bathroom by myself, I could not shower because I could not stand very long with all my weight on my left leg.  I laid there and thought about having to start work in 4 days.  I thought about the fact that I live in a 2 story house, with both bathrooms upstairs and the only TV downstairs.  It was hard for me to think about the situation as temporary- considering I had a dead leg and no other information.

On the third day, I decided I needed to advocate for myself and call the hospital.  I called the office of the surgeon who had performed the procedure.  I told her that I didn't feel like I was being helped very much.  I explained about the severe limitation to my mobility and my general state of mind as far as not knowing anything about what was going on with my leg.  She was very helpful, and immediately phoned in some medication to help me sleep, then set up a physical therapy appointment for the next morning.

Physical therapy was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I go 3 days a week and will probably be continuing therapy for the foreseeable future.  At that first appointment I learned how to use my crutches the right way, and I received a boot for my foot.  The boot has made all the difference in the world.  While wearing it, I have a right leg.  I can put weight on the leg and even walk quite a bit without the crutches.

A month went by, and I hadn't seen any appreciable improvement in my leg.  I went to a specialist to confirm that I wasn't dealing with something more permanent.  The second doctor assured me it was temporary, but could take the better part of a year to even approach normal functionality.

Luckily, in the last 2 weeks, things have taken a turn for the better.  I can wiggle all 5 toes a little, push down slightly, and with the help of electrode therapy, lift my foot just a skosh.  Sensation in the calf and foot comes and goes.  I have a constant feeling of pins and needles when I put pressure anywhere, and my muscles twitch and ache, depending on how much I've been up on my feet.  But these are all good signs, so as aggravating as they can be, I am thankful.

I think everyone, at some point or other, makes deals with God- even if they profess not to believe in one.  I'm sure they all sound similar to the deals I've been making.  "If you'll give me back _______, I promise to___________ (exercise more, lose weight, volunteer, quit smoking, etc)."  But I really do think this situation has changed me permanently.  If I ever get back to normal, I have quite a bit of work to do.

What will be different when I can walk again?  For starters, I'll do it more often.  I would give anything to be able to climb my stairs or walk around the block.

I will do more and sit around less- give up some TV.  Travel.

I will quit putting things on my Bucket List for some unknown time in the future, and start planning to tick a few things off the list now.

I'm even thinking of doing some volunteering with the physical therapy people at the hospital.  Maybe I could bake muffins for them to take to patients when they have sessions.  My therapist, Randi, has given so much of my life back to me, I feel like I should help her help others.

So right now I'm healing and exercising and trying to stay positive.  I am surrounded by wonderful people and I will let them help me through this.  My husband has been amazing through all this.  My friends here in Rifle have brought dinners for us, covered duty for me so I don't have to stay on my foot all the time and most importantly, kept me laughing.  My students have also been great.  They volunteer to run errands for me, practically run the classroom by themselves, and don't mind me sitting behind my desk with my foot propped up on my trash can most of the day.

My friend Chris convinced me to write all this down and put it out there for others to read.  He reminded me of the many things for which I am thankful.  Mostly, I feel thankful for him and for my friends and family who are always there to help me through the tough times.

Who are you thankful for today?

So I've Been Gone for a While...

I haven't posted here since July.  Not that uncommon, really.  Just about everyone knows my soul and spare time are owned by the Garfield RE2 School District, so regular posting almost never happens.  But this time, I have a pretty good excuse.  An excuse that I haven't been comfortable, or able, really, to talk about in depth until recently.

I had almost decided not to post about it at all, until a very dear friend of mine convinced me it was a good thing to do.  I'm hoping by writing it out, I can process what happened and how I truly feel about it- make my peace with it.

So I will re-read my journal and put it into some intelligible format for you.  Stay tuned...
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