Friday, May 20, 2016

A Glorious Graduation

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

After 11 dreary days of pain, mini-electrocution, and exhaustion, I feel well enough to reconnect with the Real World. The depression is still there, but let's face it, I was born depressed. I am also dealing with some leftover anger issues from last year involving two of my doctors. Anger is too mild a word - I am furious. Mean, green, and beyond-all-reason-enraged. I want to storm into their respective offices and make a loud, nasty scene in front of a room full of patients. I want to publicly shame them for not supporting me through this chronic illness, for not knowing enough about fibromyalgia and being complacent in their ignorance, and worst of all, for not believing me when I described the pain and the mental confusion, and for refusing to realize how this had permanently disabled me. Most of all, I want not to allow the anger to push me off track as I try to normalize my day. Breathe, I tell myself. "Lightly, slightly, slowly, deeply." Just breathe.

A Happy Commencement

I want to share some very good news because, although I am unable to be at this particular event, something wonderful will be happening in Tennessee tomorrow. Fifteen years ago a little girl came into my life under the saddest of circumstances and on May 20th she is going to be graduating from high school With all kinds of honors and accolades. Her story isn't mine to tell, and I want to respect her privacy and that of her wonderful family. My part was to help ensure she remained in the loving care of that family; they did the rest, and raised her to be a sweet-natured, accomplished, and frankly spectacular adult.     

I can show you the bracelet I made for her, because God willing and the lady at the post office didn't lie to me, that package should be arriving in Tennessee today. I am proud of it, but not nearly as proud as I am of her and all that she has accomplished.          

Today I feel well enough to make a list, reorganizing my thoughts and goals. Although my lower back has gone into spasm mode while I've been typing this, I think I can manage the cooking I had planned. While my sweet husband is willing to pick up Chinese food or Jimmy Bear's barbecue or more Publix chicken and deli salads, I really feel the need to fulfill my responsibilities as the cooking member of the Rothfeld Family Team. Besides, my boys are going to be doing the dishes, which is always a tremendous help. A fair exchange is no robbery.   

Nothing fancy, mind you, and the first dish relies totally on frozen food, prepared sauce, and a crockpot. The second dish is a little more involved, but just a little. Most importantly my family won't starve and I will stop feeling superfluous, at least for a day or two.

Super Speedy Sausage and Meatball Stew

1 pound frozen Italian sausage 
1 1/4 pounds good quality frozen meatballs
2 - 24 oz jars marinara sauce
1 - 14 oz. bag frozen bell pepper and onion blend
1 - 14 oz. bag frozen Italian blend vegetables

In a 6 quart crockpot add 1 jar of sauce, the sausage, the meatballs, and the remaining jar of sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Add the frozen vegetables, stir, cover, and cook another hour or more until the sausage is cooked all the way through and the vegetables are tender. Serve as is or over pasta.

One Dish Pork Loin Supper With Baked Apples and Potatoes

1 - 1 to 1 1/4 pound seasoned pork loin  
4 small apples, cored, top peel removed
Sugar, cinnamon, and allspice
A few tablespoons fruit juice
1 - 14.5 oz. can whole new potatoes, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
Garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper, dried tarragon, parsley flakes
Smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a baking dish place the pork loin down the middle. Add the apples and sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the potatoes with the oil and toss so that the potatoes are lightly coated.  Add the salt, pepper, tarragon and parsley flakes and toss again. Add the potatoes to the baking dish, and sprinkle with some smoked paprika.

Bake in the preheat oven for 1 hour or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees and the apples are soft but not mushy, rotating the baking dish one time and basting the pork at least once. After the first 45 minutes, pour a small amount of fruit juice over each apple. Let the pork rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

I could not get the pork past 120 degrees without running the risk of drying it out, so I cut into it and checked it after 1 1/4 hours, and it was cooked all the way through. Best to use your own judgment when it comes to doneness.

I can hear you screaming about the canned potatoes. I screamed too, in my head, when I realized that the real potatoes I planned on using in this dish were deader than canasta. Ugly, slimy, fuzzy life form dead, so I tossed them into the garbage pail with the speed and precision of The Great Lebron, and reached into the pantry. Besides, canned whole new potatoes are not as bad as some canned vegetables and definitely an improvement over slimy spuds.

Mini Greek Bean Salad

1 - 7.75 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and well drained
1 - 7.75 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and well drained 
very thinly sliced onion, amount to taste 
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used the garlic-infused but regular works fine)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt, pepper
Italian seasoning, parsley flakes
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste or not at all

Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving, stirring occasionally. This is the mini version of my full-sized Greek Bean salad, which is made with chick peas and dark red kidney beans, The pintos aren't quite as visually appealing, but they do work very well in this little salad.

Now then - so what if my legs are starting to tremble and my lower back is developing cracks along a fault line?  I did something I haven't done in a ridiculously long time - I prepared food for my family (okay, it barely qualifies as cooking, but still ...) and as far as I'm concerned today's score is officially Cindy-1, Fibromyalgia-0. But now, please excuse me while I go back upstairs to rest on my laurels collapse on my bed.

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