popovers and pelvic instability

Yesterday was a work at home but take the kitten to the vet in the middle of it day.

I got very little work done.  Some of this was due to the kitten, and some was due to the fact that I’ve been putting off routine housework, cooking, and self care for work.  Or for work related energy.  The work I did do involved massive shoulder pain (this is what happens when my staff is cut, too much for me to do alone) so I decided to call it and take care of house stuff.

I managed to get through sweeping and vacuuming ok – different shoulder motion than typing and mousing and the pain is very much an over-use injury attached to keyboard work.  Then I moved on to making my pumpkin pudding that I didn’t have time to cook over the weekend.  I didn’t have time because I was just exhausted.

Then I got ambitious and decided to do MORE dishes.  It was the dishes that did it.  I turned to put something away, with my feet and legs fixed forward rather than repositioned to be at the same angle as the rest of me, and “pop” went something on the lower left side of my pelvis.  Crap.  Laid down with the ice pack, now ice on the pelvis and heat on the shoulder.  But I really wanted to try making pumpkin popovers.  I had made plain ones a few weeks ago and they were ok but I thought I could do better.  I took this recipe for low fat popovers and modified it.

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • Heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lowfat milk
  • 3 and 1/2 tbsp pumpkin purée
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Heat oven to 450ºF. Spray 6-cup popover pan or six 6-ounce custard cups with cooking spray. (I used nonstick cups very lightly greased with butter.) Place all ingredients in blender in order listed. Cover and blend on medium speed about 15 seconds, stopping blender to scrape sides if necessary, just until smooth. Fill cups about 1/2 full.

Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Bake about 20 minutes longer or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cups. Serve hot.

Notes:

  • As usual, I didn’t think to measure and record my modified ingredients carefully, just eyeballed them and hoped for the best. So pumpkin, spices, & sugar amounts are estimates.
  • Use room temperature ingredients and preheat popover/ muffin tins for more “pop”.
  • You can use regular muffin tins. Just less pop.

Even in my ill-tempered oven, they came out pretty good.  photo of cooked pumpkin popover
Not heavily pumpkiny, but I think more pumpkin would weigh them down.  Next time, I’m using more spice too.  A nice treat for sitting on the couch in my now clean living room with ice and heating pads and kitties.

pumpkin and mushroom risotto

Made a new food I can eat the other day.  Again, pumpkin is prominently featured.  This is because it’s one of the few vitamin-rich vegetables I can eat, and a fiber I can tolerate.  And I like it.  So why not?

As usually, I did not write down any of this while cooking.  I just made it up as I went.  So assume the quantities and times below are approximations.  Ah, and I didn’t use fancy arborio rice, just plain old long grain white rice.

  • scant 1 tsp of butter or oil, divided (as in 1/2 teaspoon, then another 1/2 teaspoon…not a single 1 teaspoon sized pat).
  • A pint of white mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped.
  • 1 and 1/2 cups white rice
  • 5 to 6 cups of chicken stock
  • about 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • seasoning to taste (I used salt, ground black pepper, ground rosemary, sage, and thyme)

In a large saucepan, bring broth plus one clove of garlic and seasoning to a simmer.  While that’s brewing, add 1/2 teaspoon of butter or oil to a large non-stick dutch oven or deep skillet, sautee mushrooms and second clove of garlic until the mushrooms are tender.  Add seasoning as you sautee.  Remove mushrooms, add second 1/2 teaspoon of butter or oil to pain, and sautee rice.  I never really know when it’s done, but I tend to go with “until it starts to smell nutty”.  Decrease heat on rice, turn off simmering broth, and slowly (and carefully) add about a cup and a half of the broth to the rice.  Return to a medium/high heat and stir until the liquid is absorbed.  Add in mushrooms and continue adding broth, about a halfcup at a time*.  With the last cup, stir pumpkin puree into the rice mix.  Cook (stirring constantly) until liquid is absorbed.

* Ok, so here’s where the EDS takes over.  With real risotto, you just keep adding and stirring, adding and stirring a little at a time, you know, until all the liquid is gone or you pass out.  Unless you’ve got a really kick ass kitchen set up with stools and stuff, this standing at the stove and non-stop stirring is hell on people with orthostatic intolerance and arthralgia.  So, after about 2 rounds, I stop with the “add and stir” crap.  At that point, I just add in ALL of the rest of the broth and the pumpkin (gotta stir that in good), stir, and turn way down, cover, and leave it alone for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to see if the liquid has absorbed and the rice is tender.  This is one big advantage of using regular rice…it’s not as starchy so it’s less likely to stick and burn at the bottom of the pan if it is neglected a little.

It was super yummy, that with a rotisserie chicken from the local “fancy” store = 3 days of dinner.  If you want to lower the fat more, use less butter/oil and a low(er) fat broth.

5 days

I’m on day two of a mini vacation I’m taking this week.  I took two days off in advance of the long weekend, giving me a nice extra long weekend.

Yesterday, Mr. Patient and I went to even older historic towne up north of ye olde historic northeastern city.  Hint: it being October, this was a very seasonal time to visit said historic towne.  I packed a cooler with low fat lactaid milk, crackers, and low fat ground chicken chicken salad.  I also found a shop that made amazing soy chai lattes.  And some research ahead of time turned up a seafood place where I was able to at least eat some grilled tuna (minus the vegetables and the overdone roasted potatoes…Mr. Patient ate that).  I had a bit of heartburn last night, but it wasn’t terrible.  I think it was more chai induced than fish.

We planned a short trip, so there was no big disappointment when I didn’t last a whole day.  We took the walking very slowly, just ambled around like the old couple I hope we get to turn into.  Rested on benches a lot.  Got my cards read, nothing remarkable although he did say “you’re having a hard time keeping weight on, aren’t you?” although my wardrobe probably gives that away.  Bought some catnip that is apparently catcrack, according to my cat’s reaction to it.  It’s going to have to be kept in a tightly closed drawer unless we want her to have herself a little kitty bacchanal right here on the living room carpet.

It was really nice to get out and about.  I planned it carefully, including the timing.  I knew I’d probably be a little sore and tired the day after, so we did it on day one to give me plenty of resting time after.

And today, I am.  Tired.  I think my Fall allergies are kicking up a bit because I’m feeling a bit dizzy, although who knows.  Could be blood pressure or migraine too.  So many reasons to be dizzy.  And so I’m sticking close to home today.  I decided to do a little baking.  I had read some recipes for “two ingredient pumpkin cake” (e.g. this recipe, or this other recipe), and thought I’d give it a try, with angel food cake of course due to the low fat requirement of my stomach.

I Just did a set as cupcakes and boy are they good.  I already ate one and they’ve only been out of the oven for 15 minutes.  Here’s my version of the recipe.

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Apple “Compote”

Low fat!

Cake

1 box angel food cake mix

Pumpkin pie spice to taste:

1 & ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

A dash ground clove (because I like clove…most pumpkin pie recipes do not include this in the spice set)

1 can of pureed pumpkin

Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 1 minute. Spoon into ungreased cupcake tins, fill about ½ way.  I used extra large cupcake tins and could’ve gotten 10 full sized cupcakes out of it if I hadn’t tried to fill an 11th cup (d’oh!).

Bake about 25 minutes or until crust is dark golden brown and cracks are dry. If you use cupcake liners, you can skip this next bit:  Immediately turn pan upside down onto upside-down metal measuring cups in a large casserole pan. Let hang about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool. Loosen cake from side of cups with knife.

No Cook Apple Compote:
1 – 3 apples (I used 1 granny smith/green apple and two gala apples)

1 medium fresh lemon

¼ cup of brown sugar

Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to taste (least on the nutmeg)

Wash, peel, and core apples.  Chop coarsely and place in a medium sized non-metal mixing bowl.  Seed and juice lemon, add to apples tossing with a wooden or plastic spoon or spatula.  Add spices and sugar, and coat apples by mixing gently with spoon or spatula.  Refrigerate.  Use quickly for drier compote, the longer the apples sit in the sugar/lemon juice mixture, the more liquid they will release.  You can cook the mixture too if you want to break down the apples a little more but you’ll get something that is more syrupy and mushy.

Result?  I realized after I made them and took pictures that the apple bits, if cut up carefully in advance, could be arranged to make jack o’lantern faces on top of the cupcakes.  Ah, well, this is why Martha Stewart is Martha and I’m not.  Next time.  And there will be a next time.

Photo of pumpkin angelfood cupcake with apples on top

Next time, I’m putting more apple on!

I took a picture of the inside too, so you can see the crumb texture. I may try this again with a bit of flour added to see if it makes for a finer crumb. Even without that addition, it is quite good.

Photo of inside of pumpkin angel food cupcake

A rather coarse crumb to this version.

even better!

Tried another pumpkin pudding recipe since the previous one, while tasty, had some texture issues.   This is an adapted version of one I found online, I increased the cornstarch; necessary if you don’t want “soft set” pudding.  I also increased the cinnamon, added ginger, and used some brown sugar instead of white and I heartily recommend that you experiment with the spices until you find a mix that is to your liking.  The texture is great.  The eggs add a richness and tempering them before adding them into the mixture prevents you from getting cooked eggy bits in your final product.  Ideally, this should be made in a pot with a curved inner surface, but if you don’t own one (like me), just make sure you scrape the inside lower “corners” of your pot every so often while cooking, otherwise the cornstarch and egg can glob up down there and that’s not so good.

lower fat, lactose free pumpkin pudding (2)

Ingredients

¾ cup sugar (I used ½ cup white sugar and ¼ cup of brown sugar)

¼ cup cornstarch

3 cups low fat, lactose free milk

1 cup canned pumpkin

4 large egg yolks, beaten in a medium bowl

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 dash nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

Directions:

1. Combine pumpkin, spices, salt, and vanilla in a bowl.  Whisk to distribute spices thoroughly and uniformly.   Hang onto that whisk, it’s going to come in handy.

2. Combine sugar, cornstarch and milk in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir frequently until pudding heats up, then stir constantly when it just starts to boil.  Cook for 3 minutes at a low or near boil.  Turn off heat.

3. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. This “tempers” the egg yolks so they don’t cook in your pudding pot.  Then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook on a medium heat stirring constantly for about 1 to 2 minutes.

4.  Whisk in pumpkin, then stir with wooden spoon until the mixture is heated through.

5. Pour into serving bowls and chill.  Takes several hours for the pudding to set.

Fall food, part 2

The cake was a hit.  Mr. Patient made blackberry coulis, a variation on the recipe here.  Variation because Mr. Patient and I are very bad about our quantities.  We just kind of cook by eye, nose, and taste.  Looks, smells, and tastes right?  It’s right!  I made a spiced peach puree.  A super simple recipe that I’ll post below – and quite tasty….if you like peach.  I was informed by my brother that peach, along with cinnamon is a “dirty flavor”.  It’s not bad, but it’s not fresh, was his reasoning.  Well then apparently I like “dirty” flavors, because I really liked this peach puree and the bright sweetness was a nice counterpoint to the tart and complex blackberry sauce.

Spiced peach puree:

Again, quantities are rough estimates (except for the peaches, on account of packaging).

4 cups of diced peaches, strained.  You can probably use frozen or fresh too but I find the cups of diced peaches are better in terms of softness (or absence) of peel.

1 – 2 Tbsp of cinnamon

2 dashes of ground ginger

1/4 cup of white sugar

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend thoroughly and chill.

In the photo immediately below, the peach puree is to the left of the cake slice.  The right of the cake has the lemon icing, and then laid on that and to the right is the blackberry.  I probably would just do one if I were doing it again, but I had to try it all since this was a new set of foods for me.  The blackberry is too dark to really discern but the color was a deep red, so that plus the cake and peaches made for a really nice set of Fall colors.  Below the cake picture is a shot of the pumpkin pudding, the pumpkin pudding recipe is here.  I made another batch yesterday AM before going out with my brother on our birthday shopping trip.  Consider it “queer eye for Dyspatient”, it was my birthday present from him, a shopping trip to a store that there’s no way in hell I would have gotten myself to because after parking and walking and shopping, I would not have had the energy to get home.  Success, I scored a couple of nice additions to the wardrobe, including two very nice, lightweight cardigans that will convert my yearlong summer wardrobe into something more seasonally appropriate.  With heat intolerance comes a whole slew of clothing constraints, a major one being sleeveless or short sleeved tops are now a necessity.  I’m pretty tired though.  Woke up today with a bit of hurting.  My “little” brother is 6’4″ so even walking slow, it’s hard for him to walk at my snail’s pace (I’m 5’4″), and the faster I walk, the harder I come down on the hips and legs.

angel food cake with peach puree and blackberry sauce

Fruity!

Whisky pumpkin into pudding base in a stovetop saucepan.
And pumpkin pudding!

Fall food, GP style

It’s Fall.  It’s my favorite season, in large part because of the food.  Summer has always been a chore for me, sapping me of my energy, appetite, and interest in doing much other than lying in a cool, dark room.  Fall means the return of cooler weather, the ability to fire up the stove, bust out my favorite yummy foods – oh and my birthday is this time of year, which means birthday cake (i.e. “cakey tribute”) and other treats.  I was dreading it this year because since my gut decided to go on strike, there is so very little I can eat.  I have, however, discovered a few things that I can now eat that used to be bad when my gut was functional equivalent of the autobahn.  And so I am slowly adding modified versions of a few favorites into my diet, and researching birthday cakes that I can eat.  Here’s what I’ve found.

Birthday cake (and frosting):  A no-no due to the fat.  Fat and fiber have been off my food list since March, well honestly, since May when my foolish belief that I could medicate and still occasionally eat normal food was shattered by a trip to the ER for what felt like a mild obstruction.  See, it’s not just the upper gut that’s slowed down to a standstill.  It’s the lower too.  And when I eat stuff  that my stomach can’t break down, I don’t know if it makes its way into the intestine too “in tact” or what but whoa mama is it awful.  Painful.  Slow.  And painful.  Did I say painful?  Yeah.  It’s power-puke everywhere, pass out level painful.  Some minor experimentation with lactaid icecream revealed that even if it’s low residue, if there’s a high fat content, I will have the upper GI symptoms of gastroparesis – i.e. the days long nausea, regurgitation, feeling like I ate a bowling ball stuffed with garbage, and killer heart burn.  But cake has fat.  And frosting is basically all sugar embedded in a pile of fat.  What the hell am I going to eat?  Then I remembered from when I was living with the diabetic and his undiagnosed (but evident) gallbladder disease for three months that angel food cake (or as some call it “angel cake”) has little to no fat.  Looked it up to make sure and yep, it’s a winner.  What about frosting?  Boiled frosting is an option, but Mr. Patient nixed it, so it’s up to him to make a lemon icing/glaze today for my angel-food birthday cake.

My other two favorite Fall foods, which I had learned to avoid due to the fact that they acted like an accelerant on my already (back then) too speedy gut was pumpkin and cider.  It occurred to me that if cider was a no-no last year due to it making things “move along” a little too swiftly, perhaps now that things were doing the opposite of moving, cider might actually be good.  I’ve had it several times this week and discovered that (a) I missed the hell out of warm spiced apple cider and (b) apple cider plus slow gut = just fine.  As long as I don’t drink too much too late, still got the killer reflux/heartburn now and then and fruit juices always seem to kick it up a bit.  Pumpkin.  I was a little worried about pumpkin because I know it has fiber and I’m avoiding fiber.  But….it seems that this is the “right” fiber.  I think it’s the same as the medication-fiber shit you buy in a package, but I don’t have the same response to that.  That makes me bloated, in pain, and still “stuck”.  Pumpkin?  Let’s just say that it works better than miralax or milk of mag and it tastes a HELL of a lot better.  How am I eating my pumpkin, since I clearly can’t have a pie?  Pumpkin pudding!  It’s like pumpkin pie but only the good stuff.  I had to make my own pudding recipe with some modifications, since I can’t eat lactose laden milk products or high fat, so that cuts out any recipe that calls for heavy cream and the like.  But I found a few that used corn starch as a thickener for lighter milk (2% lactaid in my case) and damn, I made some good pumpkin pudding!

Here’s the recipe I made, but I will be modifying it a little to get a better mix of egg/milk/cornstarch.

6 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 3/4 cups of low fat lactaid milk

1 large egg

1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin (I used a half can)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used a bit more than that)

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

a dash of ground clove

a dash of ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine pumpkin, spices, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  In a bowl, beat egg (well!) with milk.  Gradually add the milk and egg mixture to the sugar/cornstarch mixture in pan.  Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly and remove from heat.  Add pumpkin mixture to the pan, whisking constantly.  Return to a low heat and cook for three minutes stirring constantly – do not boil.  Divide pumpkin mixture into cups, mine half filled four small pudding cups, cover and chill.  

This was super yummy.  After a cup of warm spiced cider and potato thyme soup = I almost feel like I’m eating normally, and it’s very seasonally appropriate.

diet and stuff

Yay, my hair’s not falling out as fast as it was and it looks like I gained back some weight.  I’m going to credit some additions to my diet and taking some regular time off of work which allow me to prepare and eat said additions to my diet.  So here’s what I’m eating.

Wellesse liquid multivitamin.  It’s not the tastiest thing ever, but it is the tastiest liquid multivitamin I’ve found.  Tricks for getting it down while you’re getting used to it:  chill the vitamins, and follow it with a glass of water and a stick of strong, minty chewing gum.

Beneprotein powder.  Let’s be clear on this one:  I do not like the taste.  Contrary to what you may read online, it DOES have a taste.  To me, it tastes like the more innocuous bad smells of the GI unit.  If you haven’t been on one, just imagine less horrible hospital/nursing home smell.  You got it.  It tastes like that.  And it does not dissolve well, so if you add it to anything, add it after mixing thoroughly in a separate bit of water.  The flavor is not as noticeable in savory foods, like soups, but I think even there it would ring through if I were to actually take the full amount the nutritionist recommended.  So I am searching for a better protein powder, ideally one I can stand to put in smoothies that won’t make them taste like tube feedings.  Any suggestions?  Let me know!

Lean, skinless baked chicken breast, poached fish.  And blended food.  Blending chicken with chicken broth and/or lactaid milk.  Sound gross?  Well, it’s not too bad if you imagine it’s dip and eat with saltines.  Pudding with lactaid, ok.  If you use a mix, you need to buy one that is lactose free.  From the link:  Lactose free Pudding Mixes (prepared with a lactose-free milk) – Several Jello Pudding Mixes are lactose free including Banana Cream, Chocolate Fudge, Pistachio, Lemon and French Vanilla. (Caution: Jello Fat Free Pudding Mixes do contain lactose.); Royal Pudding Mixes that are lactose free include: Dark Sweet Chocolate, Pistachio, Vanilla and Butterscotch.

Homemade soups, potato garlic (which I can tolerate if it’s well cooked and now that I am not retaining food in my stomach for days), and I’ve added a very well blended ginger carrot.  Easier for three reasons now:  I have a much better blender that will actually blend cooked carrots into a very fine consistency, I read a tip on making fresh ginger paste and freezing it in advance (using said blender and ice cube trays), and I have learned to cook the hell out of the carrots before blending.

Smoothies.  Tons of smoothies.  This week’s additions included lactose free banana pear with a few frozen blueberries…omg, so damned good.  here’s a quick recipe – makes about 2 large smoothies – good if you want some to drink now and some to freeze for later:

  • One very ripe, sliced banana, either frozen or fresh.
  • One snack pack sized cup of diced pears (I used the little del monte snack pack ones).
  • About a dozen frozen blueberries.
  • 2 spoons of granulated sugar or sweetener (I didn’t use a measuring spoon, just a regular spoon from my silverware…I’d guess it’s just a touch over 1 tsp?)
  • A dash of ground cinnamon.
  • 3 cups reduced fat lactose free milk
  • 3 to 5 ice cubes, depending on how freezy and thick you want it and whether or not you used frozen bananas.

Blend, a lot because the blueberry needs to be broken down.

I also tried a cherry almond smoothie that I was not in love with. I liked the cherry, used frozen pitted cherries.  But either the almond butter or the almond extract was not a good addition.  I’m guessing it was the latter, I was a little hesitant to put extract in a smoothie but got the recipe online.  Pah.  Next time, I will forgo the almond extract.  I’m ok with a more subtle almond flavor.

So every weekend, I make at least one soup, mix in protein powder, and refrigerate it in a big tupperware jug that even I with my weak and clumsy hands can manage to get out and pour into a microwave safe mug (huge mug btw) for dinner.  I also bake chicken breast and wrap it or blend it for later in the week. The smoothies, I either freeze into popsicles or in reuseable sports bottles.  They take a while to thaw, but on the plus side, semi thawed they are like sorbet or ice-ice cream.  Not bad.  The protein powder, while gross, does seem to have made a big difference in weight.  I had been trying to eat about this same diet previously but was down to 120 lbs (from 133 – 137 range in February).  Oh yeah, and my hair was falling out although that started a while ago.  I think it one of the earlier signs that I was really not digesting my food right.  Last appeal….if you know of a good protein powder, post in the comments!