Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Day Late

As far back as I can remember, I've always been an introvert. Working outside my home provided me with plenty of friendship and human interaction. Now, though - this is ridiculous. Fibromyalgia, I mean. I don't work, I don't see people during the day, unless it's time for my weekly visit to the therapist, or a tai chi class. So what happens when I can't make it to tai chi class? Oh, and did I mention I've been looking forward to the office Christmas party for weeks, only to have to email Terry and Brenda at the last minute that I wasn't going to be able to make it?

I'm not sure that paragraph made a lot of sense, and the grammar police are going to have a heyday, but here's the bottom line - I had a flare this week that was so freaking bad, my life literally stopped. I made some cookies yesterday, and what should have taken me one hour, including the baking, took 3 1/2 hours and left me exhausted.

These are Maida Heatter's Christmas Fruitcake Bars, and if there is one cookie I absolutely have to bake for the holidays, this is the one. So they are done, and in the freezer, and I am a dreadful, hurtful, angry mess.  There is a lot more that I wanted to accomplish, but there were at least two days when I could not get out of bed, and other days when walking downstairs left me so drained, all I could do was lie down on the couch and go back to sleep. My garden is sadly neglected, and we won't discuss laundry.

Despite that, there have been bright moments. My Magic have been winning so consistently, it reminds me of the halcyon days of Shaq and Penny Hardaway, or Dwight Howard and Hedo Turoglou (before the Dark Times; before the Dwightmare). We got caught up watching "Marvel: Agents of Shield" (this is a big deal). I decided what I was cooking for Christmas Day. I reorganized my freezers and cleaned my refrigerator. I haven't had too much insomnia to deal with, but I do have narcolepsy. Ha. No happy medium. I watched the fifth Republican debate and laughed and cussed and gave myself a headache. I even got some baking and cooking done, albeit with some scandalous shortcuts.  I made it to my Monday psychiatrist appointment by way of the wrong office; to my Tuesday night tai class, and so excited that 2 young women have joined our class; and Wednesday, as always, to my therapist, who claims his grandma made the best potato latkes. The truth is that I make the best potato latkes, but I didn't want to burst his bubble. God willing, I will be preparing potato latkes to go along with the duck and perfect eye round. If I have another bad flare, it's leftovers. Merry frelling Christmas.

Well Hello, Dolly

Everyone knows these cookie bars and almost everyone who bakes has made them at one time or another, probably under another name. Magic Cookie Bars or Seven Layer Bars or Hello Dollies, it's all the same, except, if you look a the basic recipe, you can see the possibilities.

I doubled the recipe to bake in a half sheet pan, but the only ingredients I can give you exact amounts is the butter and the sweetened condensed milk.  I combined graham cracker crumbs and pecan meal for the crust, and I'm going to guess the total amount between 3 and 4 cups.  It covered the bottom, about 1/4 inch thick.

So that's 2 sticks of melted butter, about 4 cups of crumbs, 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, and whatever toppings struck my fancy. Raisins, 4 kinds of chips (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, butterscotch, and white), 2 kinds of coconut (sweetened and unsweetened), and an extra can of sweetened condensed milk.

These are really good, but nowhere as sweet as the original. Which is a good thing, as my taste for sweets has changed over the years. But, these cookies - and I cut them very very small - are rich from the extra condensed milk. All I needed was a cup of hot, black coffee.

Mexican Chicken

This is one of my favorite easy-cheating recipes. It is from Paula Deen's first or second cookbook and it is good as is, Mexican Chicken recipe, but after so many years I had to mess with it. I field-stripped a whole rotisserie chicken, used a lot of cheese in between each layer as well as on top, threw cumin, smoked paprika, and garlic pepper into the sauce plus a 4 oz. can of green chilies and 3 green onions thinly sliced. I also poured a 10 oz. can of red enchilada sauce over the top layer of tortillas, and then finished with more cheese. Think Mexican chicken lasagna. Yum.

Anakin guarding the Mexican chicken "so the dogs don't get it."

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