Wednesday, September 9, 2015

An Appealing Proposition: Now It Begins - Jewish Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Yesterday was about architecture, today is about horticulture. First, can anyone help me identify this pretty plant?  Besides resembling a leggy azalea, those little magenta flowers give off a delicious scent.

Towards evening the flowers close up

Ready for a good night's sleep

They are so pretty, next to the plumbago

If you happen to know what they are called, please let me know.  Thanks!

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree. - Joyce Kilmer

I love trees, especially our big gorgeous 120-year old trees, and I love this poem.  And that's the end of today's horticulture lesson, except to remind you that you don't have to hug a tree to love a tree.

The State of Florida's Division of Retirement, in its infinite wisdom, politely advised me of its intention to decline my application for disability retirement, but offered the opportunity to present additional information before a final decision is made. Of course this coincided with one of my providers going out on a two week vacation, which is causing a bit of a time crunch, but I'm working on getting his input, as well as some updated info from the others.  Truthfully this is very frustrating - why are medical doctors so reluctant to commit the fact of total disability to paper?  They will verbalize to me that clearly, I cannot return to work in the near or even far future (remember my age), but when it comes to filling out forms, they start hedging their bets.  I suspect that they do not want to be perceived by any government agency as helping to perpetrate a fraud.  I get that and respect the position they are in.

I could just throw up my hands and change my application status to just retirement, but I really am permanently disabled (put me back in a courtroom and see how long it takes for my mental acuity to dissolve along with my ability to stand on my feet for hours), and I still have to deal with this issue in my application for Social Security disability.  State AND Federal - I feel like the Queen of Red Tape.

I will follow up with whatever additional documentation I can obtain, and leave in the hands of the state. Yeah, I know - I'm screwed.  At least I tried.  I also spent close to an hour on the phone today with a staff member at the agency that is helping me deal with the social security disability filing, a whole different ballgame. For one thing, my doctors are not put in the uncomfortable position of having to render an opinion on whether I am personally disabled.  That decision is made by whoever is tapped to review the medical records, and those records can include anyone who has treated me in some way for the conditions underlying the disability (and I had quite a list).  So, we shall see ...

Medication Madness: Now on the fourth medication prescribed to address my depression and anxiety, I am finally seeing (or feeling) some positive results. Or at least I thought I was. Probably I am. The depression and anxiety have abated somewhat, although I can feel them hovering pretty close to the surface. This is just this past week - four days, maybe, after a month on the oddly named Fetzima, which is a good name for a belly dancer, but an antidepressive?  So, as they say, the jury is out on this one. Time will tell ... what? Time will tell what? Some cliches are even boring to me, and I admit my writings are cliche-ridden even on a good day.

Anyway, my doctor asked if I have any side effects from the Fetzima, and so far I don't except I'm feeling a bit snarky and I've turned into a motormouth.  Also, the filters are gone, which means if someone annoys me, I may respond in kind and throw in an elbow strike for good measure.  (No, I'm not going to court to deliver some frontier justice, so stop asking me.)  This is a sort of weird side effect, because sometimes it feels like I am floating in the air, giddy as a schoolgirl, but that never lasts and I always return to earth with a bit of a crash.  Mini Mood Disorder?  Lucky me.

I was going to write a rant about basic personal modesty, breast-feeding in public, and when body-shaming is not necessarily a bad thing, but I need to give that more thought. I am not cooking today, as it is the last thing I need to do - besides having an inordinate amount of cooked food in the fridge, my entire back hurts, with my lower back feeling like it's on fire - but feeling guilty, I am recycling a recipe from 2011, from back in the day I maintained separate but related blogs for discussion and for recipes. This one is fun and easy, and you've probably seen it or eaten it sometime in the past.

From June 13,  2011 "It's All About the Food" - Jewish Sweet and Sour Meatballs

If you are Jewish, chances are you have eaten these, especially around Rosh Hashona.  Don't turn up your nose at the ingredients - it works.  This is my version of the dish, and you will notice there is no grated onion in the meatballs.  You don't need it for this dish, and who wants to grate an onion on a weeknight?


1 3/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 egg
cornflake crumbs (about 1/2 -3/4 cup)
kosher salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, Emeril's Essence

Mix everything together and make 15 meatballs from the mixture.  Put in a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or just until the meatballs start to firm up.  They will finish cooking in the sauce.

Jewish Sweet and Sour Sauce

3 - 12 oz. bottles of Heinz chili sauce
1 - 18 oz. jar of Welch's grape jelly
juice of half a lemon (or more to taste)
2 shots of Worcestershire sauce
2 drops of Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
kosher salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, Emeril's Essence - all to taste
2 handfuls of raisins

Empty the chili sauce into a medium deep pot or Dutch oven.  I like to put a little water in each jar, and shake to get all of the sauce on the sides, then add it into the sauce in the pot.  Then take about half of the jelly and add it to the sauce.  On medium to medium- high heat, bring the sauce to a simmer so that the jelly melts.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Taste and add more of the grape jelly if you like to get the right balance of sweet and sour.  I add about half of what is left in the jar.

Carefully add the meatballs to the sauce.  Cover the pot and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Serve alone, with challah, or over rice.

The color is off a bit - should be closer to a cranberry color - but the taste is delicious, and a nice change from meatballs in Italian red sauce.  Very easy to make and they will taste even better the next day.

Please enjoy  ;-)

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