Monday, August 31, 2009
Well, doll, frankly I think I won, but I'll just keep that between me and the blog, eh? But, hey, thanks for the Facebook shout-out!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
So Matt decided he was no longer going to have cold cuts on his lunchtime sandwiches (chalk it up to those recent studies of salt and nitrates, or, more aptly, this is most likely his next new "thing"). We had chicken breast on hand (when don't we?) and whipped up this fabulous chicken salad with a bit of Mediterranean flair. You have to adore feta cheese, and we adore feta cheese, if you know what I mean. We couldn't get enough, and savored this sandwich classic on rye and wraps, but it would be terrific on a bed of greens, too.
Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- 3 cups diced chicken
- 1 diced red bell pepper
- 1 small red onion diced (or 1/2 of a larger one)
- 2 celery stalks, diced (OPTIONAL: We didn't have any on hand, and the recipe was perfect without it.)
- 4 Tb. mayo
- 4 Tb. sour cream
- 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tsp. dill weed
- salt and pepper to taste
- OPTIONAL: cayenne pepper / Cajun seasoning (per Matt)
Mix together mayo, sour cream, feta, and dill. Add to the diced chicken, red pepper, red onion, and celery (if using). Blend and season as necessary. Matt added some "Slap Yo Mama" to kick it up a bit (although he doesn't condone slapping your mother).
When we make this next, I plan to toss in some chopped artichoke hearts. I also think capers would be a stellar addition, or roasted red peppers. However you have it, it's damn tasty. Enjoy!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Someone close to me complained a few weeks ago about the blog. She asked me why is it always about "boring health care". I responded there is nothing boring about this, her health (my god, livelihood) depended on it, and if this isn't keeping you up at night, then you just aren't listening.
Health Care Fit for Animals
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: August 27, 2009
Why a health insurance executive decided to speak out against an industry that he was once paid to defend.
If you haven't seen this, please watch (grab some popcorn and plop down in front on the laptop). In "Sick Around the World", Frontline dissects the health care of other democratic nations (who aren't "socialist" by golly!!!). and just how they do it. Maybe my readers aren' t one the 48 million Americans who don't have health care, but you never know...you very well might be soon enough.
PBS's Coverage of "Sick Around the World"
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
All the President’s Zombies
By PAUL KRUGMAN - NYT
Published: August 24, 2009
Reaganomics has failed to deliver what it promised, yet people still believe that government intervention is bad, and leaving the private sector to its own devices is good.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I saw this on another Crohn's blog, and am shamelessly stealing. What? You think I should come up with original content or something? I'm a busy girl (stop snickering).
Okay, so this is an essay that appeared in Esquire magazine recently about a man's struggle with Crohn's, and being on TPN. TPN, for those not in the know (and who would know, except us sorry Crohnies?) stands for "total parenteral nutrition". I was on TPN for several weeks in November and December of last year after my bout in the hospital for my abscess. With TPN, you acquire your nutrients from a milky bag of vitamins, calories, and proteins that is pumped into your veins throughout the day. It is a lonely and solitary experience, as the pump churns and sputters for hours on end, often clogging when you inadvertently sit on your line or kink it as you shift your weight. With so much fluid going into my body, I had cold night sweats and semi-hourly-nighttime bathroom visits, where I had to lug my bag of nutrients, and my battery-operated pump, to the toilet with me. Prepping to hook myself up to the TPN was a ten-minute medical ordeal of sterilization (everything had to be clean as you had an open port to right above your heart, where the TPN was pumping). When I wasn't pumping TPN into my veins, I was hooked up to antibiotics, all in a vein attempt to further decrease my orange-sized abscess, which was nestled between mounds of gut and my pelvic bone.
I was on TPN no longer than three weeks, and my total time on TPN/clear liquids a month. This man was on TPN for two months, with no clear liquids - a sentence I can only imagine.
The Man Who Couldn't Eat
Friday, August 21, 2009
We're having dinner with a new couple tomorrow. We're playing Quizo with a new group on Tuesday. Thursday I'm having dinner with a friend (not met on Craigslist, but it still counts in my "trying to be more social" initiative, darnit!). And I'm currently in talks with another chickadee who lives a few minutes from us. I'm telling you, there are a lot of lonely 20-somethings out there. My ad on Craigslist was filling a void!
First things first: I'm nervous about dinner tomorrow. I mean, I haven't been on a "date" in 5 1/2 years. What do I wear? Should I scour the newspaper for intelligent current events banter? What if I have lipstick on my teeth? These are big, looming questions, don't kid yourself.
So, I will of course indulge you (all five of you) about tomorrow night. In the meantime, I have some eyebrow plucking to do.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I'm an employed professional (ha...who knows how long that is really going to last) who moved to the area a few years ago, but never met many people outside of work. I'm not really an introvert, but I'm not the type who walks into a bar and owns the place. Frankly, I'm not the type who goes to a bar - well, not lately - who would I go with? I hate that I ended that last sentence in a preposition, but what the hey. And I'm tiring of staying home with my husband and the dog, which is all fine and good - I'm a homebody - but your husband shouldn't be your best friend in.every.single.conceivable.way. I'm liberal (very). I love cooking, reading, bitching, movies, talking, long walks with the dog, board games, being silly...all of it. I'm generally happy, high-spirited, and friendly. I'm looking for a friend (or a couple) to simply hang out with, and if you have a nerdy significant other, then hooray, twice the fun double-date style.I wrote that and posted it on Craigslist. I know, right? Since I'm feeling better and thought I would have another companion other than Crohn's, I slapped that baby up on Craigslist yesterday. Look, I don't play around, and in two days I've made big strides on the friend front. First, folks have applied to ad. I am not alone, and feel validated that your late 20's can be a friend wasteland.
Second, today I invited myself to my co-worker's weekly Quizo game at a local bar. Courtney knows a lonely girl when she sees one, and after explaining that I'm not from this area, college friends are scattered about, and I'm just simply not that cool, she extended an invitation (I think willingly) to join her group next Tuesday to play some trivia game. Today I even watched college Jeopardy to bone up, and by golly, if I didn't know more than that Princeton contestant! So hopefully I won't embarrass her...too much.
I'll keep you posted on FriendGate.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
August 16, 2009
OUR nation is now engaged in a great debate about the future of health care in America. And over the past few weeks, much of the media attention has been focused on the loudest voices. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the millions upon millions of Americans who quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them.
These are people like Lori Hitchcock, whom I met in New Hampshire last week. Lori is currently self-employed and trying to start a business, but because she has hepatitis C, she cannot find an insurance company that will cover her. Another woman testified that an insurance company would not cover illnesses related to her internal organs because of an accident she had when she was 5 years old. A man lost his health coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance company discovered that he had gallstones, which he hadn’t known about when he applied for his policy. Because his treatment was delayed, he died.
I hear more and more stories like these every single day, and it is why we are acting so urgently to pass health-insurance reform this year. I don’t have to explain to the nearly 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance how important this is. But it’s just as important for Americans who do have health insurance.
There are four main ways the reform we’re proposing will provide more stability and security to every American.
First, if you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family — coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job.
Second, reform will finally bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, which will mean real savings for families, businesses and our government. We’ll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits.
Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today’s seniors with the benefits they’ve been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors. And our reforms will also reduce the amount our seniors pay for their prescription drugs.
Lastly, reform will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable. A 2007 national survey actually shows that insurance companies discriminated against more than 12 million Americans in the previous three years because they had a pre-existing illness or condition. The companies either refused to cover the person, refused to cover a specific illness or condition or charged a higher premium.
We will put an end to these practices. Our reform will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of your medical history. Nor will they be allowed to drop your coverage if you get sick. They will not be able to water down your coverage when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. And we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses. No one in America should go broke because they get sick.
Most important, we will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups, preventive care and screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end. It makes sense, it saves lives and it can also save money.
This is what reform is about. If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health care decisions but you and your doctor — not government bureaucrats, not insurance companies.
The long and vigorous debate about health care that’s been taking place over the past few months is a good thing. It’s what America’s all about.
But let’s make sure that we talk with one another, and not over one another. We are bound to disagree, but let’s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.
Despite what we’ve seen on television, I believe that serious debate is taking place at kitchen tables all across America. In the past few years, I’ve received countless letters and questions about health care. Some people are in favor of reform, and others have concerns. But almost everyone understands that something must be done. Almost everyone knows that we must start holding insurance companies accountable and give Americans a greater sense of stability and security when it comes to their health care.
I am confident that when all is said and done, we can forge the consensus we need to achieve this goal. We are already closer to achieving health-insurance reform than we have ever been. We have the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association on board, because our nation’s nurses and doctors know firsthand how badly we need reform. We have broad agreement in Congress on about 80 percent of what we’re trying to do. And we have an agreement from the drug companies to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. The AARP supports this policy, and agrees with us that reform must happen this year.
In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain. But for all the scare tactics out there, what’s truly scary — truly risky — is the prospect of doing nothing. If we maintain the status quo, we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. Premiums will continue to skyrocket. Our deficit will continue to grow. And insurance companies will continue to profit by discriminating against sick people.
That is not a future I want for my children, or for yours. And that is not a future I want for the United States of America.
In the end, this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods. This is about people’s businesses. This is about America’s future, and whether we will be able to look back years from now and say that this was the moment when we made the changes we needed, and gave our children a better life. I believe we can, and I believe we will.Barack Obama is the president of the United States.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I am 100%, down-and-out sick. Not Crohn's sick, but sore throat-stuffy nose-achy-tired-want to die sick. I've watched six movies in the last three days trying to pass the time (you would think I would try to read a book or something), and have developed an intense fondness for Chinese soups. When I'm sick, there is no chicken noodle hogwash, it's all egg drop and wonton. And god it's good.
This was supposed to be an opening for a potato and chickpea curry I made earlier this week, but obviously I am terrible at segways and being sick has nothing to do with this outstanding curry.
This is the working man's (woman's?) curry, as you simply spill everything into a pot, get a glass of wine and watch something along the lines of Wipeout (the 12-year-old in me loves Wipeout), and then bam, you're done. Nothing fancy pants about this one.
Also, as a note, this curry does not have curry powder in it. Nope, not all "curries" have the spice curry. Crazy, I know. Curry is defined as a dish seasoned with pungent spices. Well, pungent doesn't sound very appetizing, but let's ignore that for the sake of this dish, uh?
Chickpea and Potato Curry
- 2 1/2 cups veggie broth
- Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
- One 14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 red potatoes, diced --or-- 6 baby potatoes, quartered
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, dependent on level of spice)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Ironically, many of the people whom the article portrays as fuming over "socialized medicine" probably have state-sponsored health plans. Accordingly, if the protesters actually applied their anti-government rhetoric to their own lives, many of them would lose health insurance coverage or would have to spend a fortune to obtain it.
For the whole entry, please click here. For the author's own blog, you can visit it here.
Sorry, Sarah Palin -- rationing of care? Private companies are already doing it, with sometimes fatal results
By Mike Madden
Aug. 11, 2009 Reprinted from Salon.com
The future of healthcare in America, according to Sarah Palin, might look something like this: A sick 17-year-old girl needs a liver transplant. Doctors find an available organ, and they're ready to operate, but the bureaucracy -- or as Palin would put it, the "death panel" -- steps in and says it won't pay for the surgery. Despite protests from the girl's family and her doctors, the heartless hacks hold their ground for a critical 10 days. Eventually, under massive public pressure, they relent -- but the patient dies before the operation can proceed.
It certainly sounds scary enough to make you want to go show up at a town hall meeting and yell about how misguided President Obama's healthcare reform plans are. Except that's not the future of healthcare -- it's the present. Long before anyone started talking about government "death panels" or warning that Obama would have the government ration care, 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, a leukemia patient from Glendale, Calif., died in December 2007, after her parents battled their insurance company, Cigna, over the surgery. Cigna initially refused to pay for it because the company's analysis showed Sarkisyan was already too sick from her leukemia; the liver transplant wouldn't have saved her life.
That kind of utilitarian rationing, of course, is exactly what Palin and other opponents of the healthcare reform proposals pending before Congress say they want to protect the country from. "Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote, in the same message posted on Facebook where she raised the "death panel" specter. "Health care by definition involves life and death decisions."
Coverage of Palin's remarks, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's defense of them, over the weekend did point out that the idea that the reform plans would encourage government-sponsored euthanasia is one of a handful of deliberate falsehoods being peddled by opponents of the legislation. But the idea that only if reform passes would the government start setting up rationing and interfering with care goes beyond just the bogus euthanasia claim.
Opponents of reform often seem to skip right past any problems with the current system -- but it's rife with them. A study by the American Medical Association found the biggest insurance companies in the country denied between 2 and 5 percent of claims put in by doctors last year (though the AMA noted that not all the denials were improper). There is no national database of insurance claim denials, though, because private insurance companies aren't required to disclose such stats. Meanwhile, a House Energy and Commerce Committee report in June found that just three insurance companies kicked at least 20,000 people off their rolls between 2003 and 2007 for such reasons as typos on their application paperwork, a preexisting condition or a family member's medical history. People who buy insurance under individual policies, about 6 percent of adults, may be especially vulnerable, but the 63 percent of adults covered by employer-provided insurance aren't immune to difficulty.
"You're asking us to decide that the government is to be trusted," Gingrich -- who may, like Palin, be running for the GOP's presidential nomination in 2012 -- told ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. But as even a quick glance through news coverage of the last few years shows, private insurers are already doing what reform opponents say they want to save us from. (The insurance industry, pushing back against charges that they're part of the problem, said last month that "healthcare reform is far too important to be dragged down by divisive political rhetoric." The industry has long maintained that its decisions on what to cover are the result of careful investigations of each claim.) Here is a look at a handful of healthcare horror stories, brought to you by the current system. It took Salon staff less than an hour to round these up -- which might indicate how many other such stories are out there.
-- In June 2008, Robin Beaton, a retired nurse from Waxahachie, Texas, found out she had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy. Two days before her surgery, her insurance company, Blue Cross, flagged her chart and told the hospital they wouldn't allow the procedure to go forward until they finished an examination of five years of her medical history -- which could take three months. It turned out that a month before the cancer diagnosis, Beaton had gone to a dermatologist for acne treatment, and Blue Cross incorrectly interpreted a word on her chart to mean that the acne was precancerous.
Not long into the investigation, the insurer canceled her policy. Beaton, they said, had listed her weight incorrectly when she bought it, and had also failed to disclose that she'd once taken medicine for a heart condition -- which she hadn't been taking at the time she filled out the application. By October, thanks to an intervention from her member of Congress, Blue Cross reinstated Beaton's insurance coverage. But the tumor she had removed had grown 2 centimeters in the meantime, and she had to have her lymph nodes removed as well as her breasts amputated because of the delay.
-- In October 2008, Michael Napientak, a doorman from Clarendon Hills, Ill., went to the hospital for surgery to relieve agonizing back pain. His wife's employer's insurance provider, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthCare, had issued a pre-authorization for the operation. The operation went well. But in April, the insurer started sending notices that it wouldn't pay for the surgery, after all; the family, not the insurance provider, would be on the hook for the $148,000 the hospital charged for the procedure. Pre-authorization, the insurance company explained, didn't necessarily guarantee payment on a claim would be forthcoming. The company offered shifting explanations for why it wouldn't pay -- first, demanding proof that Napientak had tried less expensive measures to relieve his pain, and then, when he provided it, insisting that it lacked documentation for why the surgery was medically necessary. Napientak's wife, Sandie, asked her boss to help out, but with no luck. Fortunately for the Napientaks, they were able to attract the attention of a Chicago Tribune columnist before they had to figure out how to pay the six-figure bill -- once the newspaper started asking questions, the insurer suddenly decided, "based on additional information submitted," to cover the tab, after all.
-- David Denney was less than a year old when he was diagnosed in 1995 with glutaric acidemia Type 1, a rare blood disorder that left him severely brain damaged and unable to eat, walk or speak without assistance. For more than a decade, Blue Cross of California -- his parents' insurance company -- paid the $1,200 weekly cost to have a nurse care for him, giving him exercise and administering anti-seizure medication.
But in March 2006, Blue Cross told the Denney family their claims had exceeded the annual cost limit for his care. When they wrote back, objecting and pointing out that their annual limit was higher, the company changed its mind -- about the reason for the denial. The nurse's services weren't medically necessary, the insurers said. His family sued, and the case went to arbitration, as their policy allowed. California taxpayers, meanwhile, got stuck with the bill -- after years of paying their own premiums, the Denney family went on Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid system.
-- Patricia Reilling opened an art gallery in Louisville, Ky., in 1987, and three years later took out an insurance policy for herself and her employees. Her insurance provider, Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky, wrote to her this June, telling her it was canceling her coverage -- a few days after it sent her a different letter detailing the rates to renew for another year and billing her for July.
Reilling thinks she knows the reason for the cutoff, though -- she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2008. That kicked off a year-long battle with Anthem. First the company refused to pay for an MRI to locate the tumors, saying her family medical history didn't indicate she was likely to have cancer. Eventually, it approved the MRI, but only after she'd undergone an additional, painful biopsy. Her doctor removed both of her breasts in April 2008. In December, she went in for reconstructive plastic surgery -- and contracted a case of MRSA, an invasive infection. In January of this year, Reilling underwent two more surgeries to deal with the MRSA infection, and she's likely to require another operation to help fix all the damage. The monthly bill for her prescription medicines -- which she says are mostly generics -- is $2,000; the doctors treating her for the MRSA infection want $280 for each appointment, now that she's lost her insurance coverage. When she appealed the decision to cancel her policy, asking if she could keep paying the premium and continue coverage until her current course of treatment ends, the insurers wrote back with yet another denial. But they did say they hoped her health improved.
-- Additional reporting by Tim Bella
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Courtesy of Moveon.org.
Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!! The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill." What's the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.
Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!! The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options. Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down. If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them. But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.
Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!! The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.
Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage. And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.
Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!! The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits. Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.
Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!! The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy. Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses. Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.We're closer to real health care reform than we've ever been—and the next few weeks will decide whether it happens. We need to make sure the truth about health care reform is spread far and wide to combat right wing lies.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Don't get me started on Sarah Palin's ill-informed "death panel" comments regarding the Obama administration's health care reform policies. I love making fun of her (who doesn't?!) but her comments are dangerous fabrications and a blatant distortion on the truth, and it's terrifying her equally misinformed conservative followers believe these lies and have made health care town hall meetings screaming sessions, and are, in turn, halting any progressive health care reform.
(And, apparently, when I'm mad, I write in long, run-on sentences.)
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Does anyone else feel worse as the day progresses? I'm usually good in the morning, and then start my bathroom trips in the afternoon into the evening. At night, my abdomen often feels quite sore as I lay down. Of course, my digestive system has had a rest in the morning from the sleep the night before, and I suppose the PM BM breaks (oh lord, I'm so not witty at all) are because I'm eating again for the day (breakfast, lunch, and so on). It's just a daily vicious cycle.
Because you go to the bathroom a lot, are you hungry a lot? (I like to attribute my very manly appetite to this.)
This is a very rare breed of sea life. (I cannot vouch for accuracy.)
This is the entrance to the "Virtual Shark Cage". Basically, it was a room that shook a bit and has a video of a shark coming at you, just like you were underwater in a shark cage. This is a real overheard exchange: Man in front of us to boy working "the cage": "Is it scary?" Employee: "No, sir. It's mainly for small children." The man, still fearful, then proceeded to hedge his bets and left. This is when Matt and I gleefully took his spot in line. Anything for "small children" is right up our alley.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Madonna sort of scares me - all five feet of her. Have you seen those arms, lately?! But this song got me through the last 15 minutes of my workout on the elliptical. For that, Kate, I thank you.
Song: Hung Up
Album: Confessions On A Dancefloor
So, here are some super-duper quick lemon cupcakes that are perfect summertime treats. I augment store-bought whipped icing a bit, and it essentially hides any store-bought taste (but in my opinion, store-bought icings are making big strides these days). Feel free to make your own icing, of course. My new rule is that one should always add pudding mix to a boxed cake - it's fluffy and moist beyond belief, and if you have questionable morals like me, you can lie and say they're homemade. Instead, you dumped some box in a mixing bowl. Score.
- 1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix
- 1 (3.4 ounce) package lemon instant pudding
- 1 cup water
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 container WHIPPED white icing
- 2 T. butter
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- Lemon extract or fresh lemon juice (add to your desired specification)
- 2 T. marshmallow fluff (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat cake mix, pudding mix, water, eggs, oil, and lemon juice in large bowl with mixer on low speed until moistened. (Batter will be thick.) Beat on medium speed 2 min. Spoon batter evenly into 24 paper-lined 2-1/2-inch muffin cups.
- Bake 18 -21 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min.; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.
- Meanwhile, beat store-bought icing and lemon extract and/or fresh lemon juice (add as much as you like, about 2 teaspoons) in an electric mixer or with a hand-held mixer with sugar, butter, and fluff (if desired). Beat for about 3-4 minutes. Frost cupcakes.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Artist: Rogue Wave
Album: Just Friends (ug) Soundtrack (I do not endorse such movies)
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Today I'm completing a project at work and needed something a bit mellow to take the edge off, and I've been in a Bon Iver-ish mood since Matt and I listened to his album, For Emma, Forever Ago. It's the perfect music to listen to on a long drive home, with the dog asleep in the back, and when there is nothing left to discuss.
Artist: Bon Iver
Song: Re: Stacks
Album: For Emma, Forever Ago
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I saw my surgeon a few weeks ago for a follow-up. Upon him walking into the examination room, I said I was feeling great, this is all just a formality (right?), and what time is your last patient because you're looking ridiculously dashing today (fine! I did not say that).
A few minutes later, when he was inspecting my incision site, I mentioned I was feeling a bit crampy. "You just said you were great," he replied. I told him yes, I am, but sometimes I have cramps. He asked if I needed the Percocet. I told him it was nothing like that, just subtle. He laughed and looked at me. "You're fine."
This is the thing: I have minor cramping, and a lot of phantom pain. After every twinge of discomfort, no matter how small, I hold my breath and wait. Did it go away? Is it all happening again? Was my surgery for nothing? Is there some way to get a new immune system? My can't intestines regenerate like worms? (Well, I think most of these things.)
But I suppose that is no way to live; I'm neurotic enough as it is, why add this to the mix? I have better things to worry about, namely, what are we going to have for dinner tomorrow night, and what the heck is Matt doing now?
When I think of dishes my mom made during my childhood, I envision two beefy stuffed entities: stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers. Since I was a kid, I could have done without the cabbage and peppers (and often did), as I scooped out the savory insides of beef, rice, and spices from these Balkan delights.
This past week Matt and I found ourselves with an abundance of bell peppers, so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to make this comfort meal. And double win for me: I wasn't feeling well so Matt whipped it up. (He'll make anything if it includes beef.) I don't know how my mom made them (care to pipe in, mom!), but we found this recipe quick and easy. Actually, we make it a rule to avoid anything complicated, and this fit the bill. They were juicy and delicious.
Note: Due to my sensitivity to red meat from Crohn's, we buy the the leanest beef possible - usually 94% lean and organic, which really helps.
- 6 green bell peppers (We used 9, as ours were small.)
- salt to taste
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2/3 cup chopped onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup uncooked rice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
- water as needed
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Sprinkle salt inside each pepper, and set aside.
- In a large skillet, saute beef and onions for 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, 1/2 cup water and Worcestershire sauce. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper halfway with the beef and rice mixture. Combine the soup with a bit of water until it's a gravy consistency, and put a few Tb. of this in each pepper, and then fill the peppers to the top and add more tomato sauce. Place peppers open side up in a baking dish.
- Bake covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until heated through and bubbly.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Poor Man's Tuna Cake
- 2 cans (6 oz. each) light tuna in water, drained, flaked
- 1 pkg. stuffing mix (for chicken)
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1/3 cup mayo 2 Tbsp. pickle relish (I have used both dill and sweet)
Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate them for 10 minutes while you gussy up a salad or something for a side dish.
Heat a skillet on med-high heat. Spray with cooking oil. Use an ice-cream scoop to add 1/3 cup scoops of the tuna mixture to the skillet. (Or just a spoon like the rest of us poor folk.) Flatten the patties with a spatula and cook for about 3-5 minutes on either side. Carefully flip and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
I can legitimately say this recipe is award-winning. (Just like my apple pie recipe, which I won't share, because a girl has got to have SOME secrets!) On Friday at work we had yet another cut-throat cook-off of epic proportions (and by that, I mean twelve of us suckers cooked something and gathered in the employee kitchen at noon...HIGH noon, that is). The theme was summer BBQ, so I decided to make a Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad, which I've made no less than half a dozen times before. And, you know, I was really dedicated; I even woke up EARLY on Friday morning to cook this baby as I was at a concert Thursday evening (note to Nancy: Fleet Foxes was great, they sounded just as harmonious live, although I think every six-foot-plus dude was in our direct eye line, which is something odd for a 5'10" girl to complain about).
I managed to squeeze out a first place victory in the cook-off, and it was all pretty much on the up and up since I even withdrew my vote for myself (yes, I have very little integrity).
So this recipe is originally from squeaky-voiced Rachel Ray (thanks Rach, because now I'm going to call it my own!). This is why you should make it in lieu of your typical pasta salad: 1) it's prettier, and 2) it's healthier. Enter it into a workplace cook-off; let them know Kathryn sent you!
Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad
- 1 package tortellini (I use chee
- 1/2 pound fresh baby spinach
- 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts (any size)
- 1 red roasted pepper, drained and chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, cracked from skin
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves
- Black pepper
- A handful sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
Bring water to boil for pasta. Cook according to package (or until tortellini is floating). Drain and scatter the tortellini on a cookie sheet for quick drying.
In this photo, we see the tortellini bathing in early-morning light, waiting for their chance to be apart of this AWARD-WINNING salad.
Coarsely chop baby spinach. Combine with artichoke pieces, roasted red pepper and red onion.
Choppity chop chop.
Chop garlic, then add salt to it and mash it into a paste with the flat of your knife. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl and lemon juice and vinegar to it. Whisk in oil, thyme and pepper. Add pasta and sun-dried tomatoes to the salad. Dress salad and gently toss. Serve or refrigerate.