Archives for: December 2009
Before church on Sunday a friend and I were talking about holiday food, particularly fruit cake. Both of us like fruit cakes that are mostly fruit and nuts with very little “cake”.
Aside from making a cake with ground nuts, fruit cake may be one of the best cake options for Type Os. My Mom is from in a small town near Corsicana, Texas, the home of the famous Collin Street Bakery fruit cake. So I grew up with that as my standard. Over the years I’ve had lots of other fruit cakes, some homemade, some store bought. I’ve never found one that I like better than Collin Street’s.
My friend has a recipe developed by her grandmother that she says is the best fruit cake in the world. She described how tired her arms get stirring the batter by hand. I asked if she shared her recipe. She hesitated and said No, that the family had voted not to give it out.
That conversation has sent me on a search for a fruit cake to make for New Years. There is one recipe on the BTD recipe center, but the ingredients are not very similar to the fruit cake I am so fond of. A Texas fruit cake would be loaded with chopped pecans. It would have pineapple, papaya raisins, and cherries. It wouldn’t be spicy. I’m still looking.
Boiled custard at Christmas was a tradition in my family. My grandmother and later my Mom cooked it slowly over low heat. If it was cooked too quickly, it would get lumpy. Oh it was delicious. At my grandmother’s house after a big turkey dinner, we would have a cup of custard with a slice of fruit cake.
My husband’s family had a different tradition. They made ambrosia using oranges, grapefruit and grated coconut. It was also delicious at the end of a turkey dinner.
To my disappointment, neither my husband nor my children shared my love for boiled custard. One year, instead of making custard, my Mom bought non-alcoholic eggnog at the grocery store. Everyone liked it. Eggnog tasted every bit as good with fruitcake as the custard. So we had a new family tradition.
Then I found the Blood Type Diet. I always go ahead and enjoy favorite foods on special occasions, but I couldn’t do eggnog and fruitcake every night of the season without my heartburn coming back. When DD got serious about the BTD, she decided to be much more rigid than I am. She refused to indulge in Christmas eggnog or ambrosia either one. Traditions on both sides of the family were endangered.
DD came home from college this year with a carton of Silk “Nog” made with soy milk. She could hardly wait for us to try it. It is thinner than regular eggnog, but it has a very similar flavor. All four of us liked it. DD went back to the store for more. We’ve been watching Christmas movies and drinking soy nog at night.
Today I stopped by the grocery store for a few last minute things before going to visit my Mom. They were almost out of soy nog, so I bought 3 cartons. On impulse, I took one of the cartons into the rehab facility.
I had arrived right at the end of lunch. Mom hadn’t eaten very much. I poured some soy nog into a cup and offered it to her. She liked it. I told her all the news of the day, giving her sips of soy nog every so often. At one point she reached up, took the cup from me and drank by herself. That is the first time she has held the cup on her own since her problems with pain started in early November.
I left the rehab facility rejoicing. The doctor’s pain management is working. Mom is more comfortable. The nursing staff was correct when they said that as Mom’s body got used to the pain medication, her alertness would return. Mom recognized the taste of a traditional Christmas treat, and enjoyed it so much that it revived some of her desire for independence.
Boiled custard is in the past. Eggnog is in the past as well. Soy nog is the new Graham family tradition. I’m looking forward to more of it tomorrow.
My husband and I went to an outdoor Christmas festival with some friends. There were lots of unique gift shops and musical groups. We have come to this event several times. The atmosphere is always festive and the music is always delightful. This year we heard bagpipes, a string quartet, a barbershop quartet, and a Sweet Adelines women’s group.
It seems like the weather is always frigid, and this year was no exception. My husband and our friends always stop for coffee or hot chocolate. I’ve never really liked coffee, and once I learned it was an avoid food for Type Os, I stopped drinking it altogether. I am allergic to chocolate, and milk is avoid, so I don’t drink hot chocolate either. While they enjoy a warm and cozy drink, I’m left out in the cold.
This year as we left the house, I impulsively put a tea bag in my coat pocket. It was a flavor that DD had given me to try – TAZO’s Green Ginger. The label says, “It is a dazzling blend with sweet spicy ginger and a touch of pear.”
We had a lot of fun wandering in and out of shops and listening to the music. Eventually we passed a concession stand and the others ordered hot chocolate. I asked if they had apple cider, but the answer was no. So I asked if I could get a cup of hot water. They looked at me like they thought I was nuts, but gave me a large cup of hot water. I dropped the tea bag in, and a few minutes later I was sipping green tea.
It warmed me up all inside, and the flavor of the tea was as good as the package claimed.
The final event of the night is a candlelight sing along around a large outdoor Christmas Tree. As I stood holding my candle and singing “O Holy Night” I was reminded of how blessed I am. There have been some rough moments this year – some sadness and some disappointments. Yet there is much to be thankful for. My husband is a man of character, my children are doing well in their studies, and the economy seems to be improving. I could sing with all my heart, “O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth…O night divine, O night when Christ was born.
My sweet niece (ok, she’s really my nephew’s wife, but I don’t think she’ll mind if I claim her) brought butternut squash soup to the family Thanksgiving gathering. I love butternut squash. I usually cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it with a dollop of ghee where the seeds were. I had never imagined, much less eaten soup made from butternut squash. It was delicious. Just a little spicy, but not so much that it radically changed the flavor of the squash.
My Mom had the surgery on Monday to take out the screw in her ankle. She had responded well to antibiotics, and the cellulitis was almost totally gone. Breathing treatments four times a day kept her from developing pneumonia. The doctors finally reached a consensus that to send her back to the Rehab facility with an open wound and exposed hardware would guarantee another infection. When the doctor told me she would not be under general anesthetic, but that he would use local anesthetic plus a twilight sleep, I agreed.
The surgery went well, and the doctor was able to stitch the incision in such a way that the original wound is mostly closed.
It was a long day for me – 11 ½ hours at the hospital. When she came out of surgery, I realized I was hungry, but I had already eaten all of my lunch and my snack. The hospital cafeteria was open, but since it was between meals, the serving lines were shut down. There was a salad bar, but I shy away from salad bars during flu season. There were plenty of desserts, but I was resolved to find something healthy. They had fruit, but I had already eaten three servings of fruit. I was about to give up when I realized I had passed two soup tureens several times. One had chicken noodle soup – not interested in that. The other had butternut squash soup.
It was weird – here is a food I had never heard of until a week ago, and it’s in the cafeteria. If I had not enjoyed my niece’s soup so much I would probably have passed this by. But I served myself a bowl, popped on a lid, and headed back to Mom’s room. Oh it was good. Like my niece’s recipe, it was thick and just a little spicy. It soothed my nerves and filled my stomach.
There are three butternut squash soups in the BTD Recipe Center. How had I missed that? They are all a little different, so I guess I’ll have to try them all.
I’m usually the one encouraging friends and family to eat right. They call and ask me about vitamins or what foods might help a certain health problem. But right now, I’m the one getting e-mail saying “Suzanne, make sure you eat right…make sure you get enough rest…make sure you take care of yourself.” For the third time in four years, I am beside a hospital bed in December.
It’s sort of an interesting story…one that may apply to you if you are nearing menopause. My Mom broke her right ankle in 1997. She had surgery and they put a plate and several screws in her ankle. It healed beautifully, and never gave her any trouble. However, her August stroke paralyzed her right side. She can’t put weight on her right leg. She is either in bed or in a wheel chair. The bone began to deteriorate rapidly.
Thanksgiving weekend I got a call from the rehab facility saying that she had a cut on her right ankle. They speculated that she had banged her leg on the wheelchair. They were treating the cut. On Monday she had no appetite and looked at me with sad eyes. On Tuesday she had trouble breathing and was taken to the emergency room. There they discovered that the wound on her ankle was not cut from the outside. A screw from the inside was pushing its way out through her skin.
She is in a lot of pain, and is now on serious pain medication. On Monday my sister and I have to make a decision about whether to take the screw out or leave it in. The orthopedist candidly says that he is not optimistic about the wound healing either way. An open wound leaves her vulnerable to cellulitis and sepsis. The screw leaves her vulnerable to a bone infection as well. Surgery to remove the screw carries its own risks with a 93 year old stroke victim.
I am staying with her at the hospital most of the day. Because she cannot hear or speak, it helps for me to hold her left hand during treatments, and to be her voice to hospital staff who can’t imagine what a vibrant woman she was 4 months ago.
Hence the e-mails from my wonderful family and friends reminding me to take care of myself during this stressful time. The hospital here does not have the variety of vegetables that the previous hospital had. This is like a college cafeteria with a pizza station, a pasta station, and a sandwich station. Their hot lunch on Wednesday was chicken fajitas, rice and beans. It was the best choice available, but not the best choice for a Type O. Since then I’ve packed my lunch.
At home in the evening I am fixing good food for my husband and myself. However, I am probably eating too much. I was about to write that I need to be careful in stressful situations not to overeat even beneficial food, but it dawns on me that my nutritional needs are higher when I’m under stress. Perhaps I’m not eating too much after all.
I’m not getting enough sleep. One night I stayed late at the hospital because Mom was not responding well. Last night, right at bedtime, I received a hurtful e-mail from a bitter and angry colleague. It took a long time to settle down. I’ll try to do better tonight.
I have been exercising early in the morning. I just know that no matter how good my intentions are, I’m less likely to exercise after a day at the hospital. My husband is wonderful. He is at home today doing dishes and laundry.
I mentioned menopause. What I see in front of me, is confirmation of what all the menopause and peri-menopause books say. If a woman over 40 does not exercise - specifically weight bearing exercise – she will lose bone strength. Those e-mails I’m receiving are good reminders to take care of myself. Perhaps there is a woman you should e-mail today and remind her to exercise to keep her bones strong.