Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Healing Goes On

I've been remiss in my updating duties, it seems, so I'll try and put in as much as I can here.

Firstly, my abilities to post, read e-mail, get any work finished, do laundry and shower have been limited, at best. The house and I aren't exactly grungy, but a little attention certainly wouldn't hurt.

That, I guess, will come later. The most important thing right now is to attend to Marty's needs and help him to rest, eat well and stay relatively happy so he can heal and to make sure the kids are well cared for.

Wednesday last was another surgery for Marty's arm, and although we really thought it would be the last, we found he needs one more small procedure before he can be considered "done" on that front. He had 4 of the 6 pins in his arm removed and was put in a soft cast. This will remain until October 9Th when we need to travel, yet again, to Philadelphia to have 2 very small pins taken out and then a decision made about casting or having a removable splint put on.

When he was under anesthesia this last time his wrist was manually manipulated to see if he will have movement at all. They got some limited range and we realize he will never have full use again, but it is certainly better than being stuck in a permanent position. He has several fingers that he is not able to feel yet, but they hope they will start to come back as he progresses in physical therapy. At this point he is passively moving his fingers and attempting some active movement. He has a long road to go with the arm.

His pelvis is healing well and we hope to hear that he will be 50% weight bearing on his left leg after the next appointment. It's not much, but it will allow him to put his foot down and get started on walking again. I was told this last time that the pelvic break was also one of the worst the doctor had seen, but the arm was so bad that the pelvis break was really secondary. I finally have copies of the films pre and post op and the breaks are very severe. It helps me to help Marty if I know exactly where he was hurt and how the breaks occurred.

Anyone bored yet? There are some issues from the pelvic bleed that need to be addressed and Marty has begun to fall into some depression--which is also being dealt with, but is very hard to see and deal with on my end. It's hard to not be able to help someone when they are hurting so badly. Prayers for Marty on all issues would be greatly appreciated!

I'm behind on all of life, it seems, and I could use prayers for myself, that I can get things accomplished and bills paid etc. I'm not able to leave the house during the day, which is when things really need to get done, since Marty needs care 24/7. He does small things for himself, but can't be alone at all. I walk the kids to school in the morning, and that's it. That takes about 10-15 minutes total and it's hard for me to leave him alone even for that short period of time.

I'm having a small situation with transportation right now--our van is very sick and needs more than $1,000 worth of work, so I have a car that I've been using. Suddenly, that's become an issue and the money it would take to purchase the car just isn't there. I won't go into details, but it's not something I'm comfortable with at all and feel very pressured about. I need a vehicle, there's no doubt about that--I am the one who takes Marty wherever he needs to go and there's not another option. Prayers there, too if you would!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking

If I were to use one word to describe Harumi Kurihara's second cookbook, Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking, it would be, "essential". It is 160 pages of bliss. Ms. Kurihara's writing is clear and concise, enabling even the most novice cook to delve into the realm of Japanese cooking with the greatest of ease and complete success.

Harumi Kurihara has become an icon in Japan, and it's easy to see why. Her detailed techniques and stunning photographs convey her love for cooking and draw the reader in.

The book begins with Japanese cooking techniques to help you get started, (and leaves me wanting a ginger grater) and is rounded out with a glossary at the end. Throughout the book there are Harumi's Hints, Ingredients Notes and Menu Planning tips as well as a full section on menu planning at the back of the book and a short, but very informative, section on Bento-or Japanese lunch boxes. There is nothing this book doesn't have to set you on your way to creating beautiful Japanese meals in your own home.

Beyond the miso soup variations, my personal list of must-makes includes Japanese Green Tea Risotto, Pork in Crispy Breadcrumbs and Grilled Salmon "Yuan" Style.

Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking is available in stores on October 2; don't miss the chance to pick up your own copy!

This is one of the many wonderful recipes you'll find in this book:


½ lb. fresh salmon, seasoned with salt and grilled until cooked
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
6 tablespoons of toasted black sesame seeds
1 ¾ cups hot cooked rice
Ikura (salmon roe)—to taste (can be found at Japanese grocery store)
Chopped spring onions or chives to garnish

Discard any skin or bones on grilled salmon and break it apart into small “flakes”
Transfer the salmon to a small pan and pour sake on top. Put on stove top on medium heat and cook until warmed through. Flake into finer bits and add the light soy sauce.
Turn of the heat and add the sesame seeds. You can either mix them in or just sprinkle on top.
Put the cooked rice into individual bowls and divide the salmon flakes on top of each bowl. Add a spoonful of sesame seeds and garnish with chopped spring onion or chives

Serves 2-4

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges

Jean-Georges, prolific restaurateur and cookbook author, has written yet another tome. His newest book, Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges, focuses on a cuisine that he has so well mastered and shares recipes from his restaurants--Spice Market, 66, and Vong.

I love the website devoted to his many restaurants; the photos are fabulous and each makes me want to travel the world simply to dine at these locations. Don't be fooled, though, by the larger-than-life image painted by his success; he is a self-proclaimed "country boy at heart"--just my type of person. He certainly hasn't lost himself to fame.

Jean-Georges' blog, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chronicles his life, his work and his thoughts on food. It's a wonderful read so far, and I look forward to many more installments. Please give it a read, and don't miss his book, in stores on October 23rd and something I most definitely want to get my hands on.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Food Remembered

Nothing evokes memories for me quite the way that food does. It has the ability to transport a person to another time and place. The ability also, to resurrect loved ones long since departed.

Just the aroma of my great grandmother Barnes' Brown Sugar Cookies transports me to her tiny kitchen in her tiny house in Tipton, Indiana. Visions of her working at the table with her large stoneware bowl dance in front of me with surprising clarity.

A single bite of chili, the way dad made it, takes me back to the dining room in the house at Harbor Beach, and calls back my father to the head of the table.

Parmesan flavored popcorn, provided by my Uncle Joel and Aunt Sherry, belongs on Route 25 in Port Hope where I watched fireworks as a child on my summer visits to dad’s home .

Just the mention of Colby cheese puts me at the large oval table in my grandmother Sharp's kitchen with the sounds of locusts and crickets chirping outside the windows on a hot summer night as I sit, surrounded by my brothers, having a late-night snack.

Rice, plain old Uncle Ben's rice, whisks me back to the home of my Uncle Earl and Aunt Mary Jane on the south side of Allentown. Never have I had better rice, and I don't know why ... it must have been the atmosphere.

Chocolate and cinnamon, reminiscent of my grandma Foster's famous chocolate cake, sets me down in her small kitchen in Bad Axe, the scent of Sweetheart soap filling my nostrils and the sound of happy family filling the air. The smell of Tollhouse cookies baking transfers me to Harbor Beach where grandma passed off a just-baked batch to my father for our trip to his new home in Davenport, Iowa.

My mother's fried chicken is the taste of home. In an instant I am a teen again, filling my plate to the chatter of my loved ones and friends on Christmas Eve at mom's buffet-style celebration.

The enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from eating something I love is magnified when sharing it with someone else, and the memory left is a result of that sharing.

This then is my simple truth; food shared is food remembered.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Garlic, How I Love Thee

"Do not eat garlic or onions; for their smell will reveal that you are a peasant."
Cervantes, Don Quixote (1614)

Peasant I am, then!

When I was in culinary school, we were taught to start nearly every savory dish with the almighty trilogy: clarified butter, garlic and shallots. We would spend countless hours peeling and mincing garlic by hand, most often with our chef's knives. I would go home, reeking of garlic, and hoping my husband and two small daughters, wouldn't mind.

"No one is indifferent to garlic. People either love it or hate it, and most good cooks seem to belong in the first group."
- Faye Levy

Once our class took over running the restaurant, we would encounter specific requests from customers--no sauce, no salt, leave off the olives--and things of that nature. One night, however, the maître d' walked in and inquired of the chefs on the line which dishes were made without garlic. The normally bustling kitchen came to an immediate standstill as we all turned to stare, open-mouthed, at this ludicrous notion. Our professor looked confused for a mere moment then turned abruptly and started barking orders. Whatever this customer would get, it would be fresh--but sadly, to my palate--tasteless.

"There are many miracles in the world to be celebrated and, for me, garlic is the most deserving."
Leo Buscaglia

I cannot imagine asking for a dish without garlic; in fact, there is hardly a savory dish I make--no matter what the recipe states--without the addition of garlic, and when I realize it is absent from the recipe, I always wonder why. It is fundamental to cooking; it is both complex and simple, making it a truly indispensable food. Food? Yes, FOOD; not herb, accompaniment, spice or seasoning. Garlic is, in and of itself, a highly desirable and much loved food. Italian, French, and German food would be nothing without it. Aioli would cease to exist. The travesty that the world would be without garlic is unfathomable. A day without garlic is like a day without air…if you don’t agree, that’s OK, I’ll forgive you. After all, we can’t all be right, can we?

“It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking.”
X. Marcel Boulestin

The history of garlic dates back to anywhere between 4000 and 6000 years ago, depending on which source you are using. I would love to think that garlic was growing right alongside the tomatoes and olives that I dream were the first vegetation planted by God. It may be a relative of the onion, it may not have been eaten at first (some wouldn’t touch it beyond medicinal purposes), and some may think it to be “stinking” (poor misguided Henri Leclerc). I, however am of like mind with Louis Diat.

“Without garlic I simply would not care to live.”
Louis Diat (1885-1958)

I’ll not bore you with details of the full history--you can find that for yourself in a simple Google search--I will, however, share a recipe and a few more quotes with you.

Garlic Soup with Chicken

Ready In: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8
Printable Recipe

1 whole chicken - about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, cut up
2 carrots peeled and diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 large onion diced
2 heads garlic - peel 10 cloves and set aside
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Freshly cracked pepper and Kosher salt
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour

1. Put vegetables in the bottom of a large soup pot and add chicken, unpeeled garlic cloves (a little more than 1 head of garlic) and herbs. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2. Remove chicken and garlic cloves and set aside.
3. Strain broth and return to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by about one-third.
4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
5. Squeeze softened garlic from skins and add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Mash into a paste (a mortar and pestle works well for this) and set aside.
6. Heat butter in a small skillet over very low heat. Add the 10 peeled garlic cloves and cook until cloves just begin to brown. Remove cloves with a slotted spoon and add to mashed garlic and mash these together as well.
7. Add flour to butter and whisk until a paste forms. Add mashed garlic to flour and butter and whisk until well combined. Add all to chicken broth. Heat until slightly thickened and add chopped chicken back into the pot. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

*(posted in several forms all over the 'net!)

“Provençal cooking is based on garlic. The air in Provence is impregnated with the aroma of garlic, which makes it very healthful to breathe. Garlic is the main seasoning in bouillabaisse and in the principal sauces of the region. A sort of mayonnaise is made with it by crushing it in oil, and this is eaten with fish and snails. The lower classes in Provence often lunch on a crust of bread sprinkled with oil and rubbed with garlic.”
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine

"The rabble who had joined the people were overcome by greed, and the Sons of Israel began to wail again, 'Who will give us meat to eat?' They said, 'Think of the fish we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic! Here we are, wasting away, stripped of everything: there is nothing but manna for us to look at."
- The Bible (Numbers 11: 4-6)

“There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic.”
Louis Diat

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Home Again, Home Again ... and All That Jazz

Well, Martin has been home for two weeks tomorrow, and I haven't had moment one to breathe, eat, think or type. You'll have to excuse the absence and lack of updating. Marty was sent home from the rehab hospital for lack of rehab-ability--if that's a word. He was not really well enough to be home, but also isn't able to bear weight at all on his left leg, so there was nothing for the rehab hospital to rehab.

They sent him home without even 48 hours notice (I'm still fuming over that one) and to a hospital bed (read about that story over at my blog), walker, wheelchair, cane, commode ... you get the idea. Our living room is now Marty's hospital room for at least the next 8 weeks ... probably longer.

He has many needs since he's not mobile and I, of course, am the 24 hour nurse. This has proven rather difficult with all of the kids' needs and my own needs. We're not into a schedule just yet, but hope to be soon.

We spent the day in Philadelphia yesterday with Marty getting x-rays and seeing the docs about his progress. He currently has his wrist in a "beer can hold" position, which we were told was the easiest for an arm to be "stuck" in if he was to lose motion there. The bones in the wrist are fusing together since there wasn't anything large enough for them to pin together. He also can't feel a few fingers and we have no idea if that will be permanent or not.

He has severe neuropathy in his left foot at the present and it could be from a stretched or "nicked" nerve and the fact that they may be healing. Healing is great, but the pain involved for this type is nearly unbearable. So, there are medications (17 prescriptions to be exact, given at 6 different times throughout the day) for all of this, but nerve pain is so hard to get under control that we will most likely be off to a pain management specialist soon.

The kids started school, Cassidy is enjoying college, but a little scared about the recent murder there. Us, too. We're praying that she stays safe on campus.

That is not really all of what is going on, but all I have time for!