Monday, April 2, 2018

Eating Iowa....Milk and Honey

We went on a lark this weekend, motoring to Manning Iowa to visit a retail shop we both liked on Facebook called 'The Marketplace'. It was nice drive out to the country about an hour and a half long.  The town of Manning is a sleepy little burg of about 1500 people in the heart of Iowa just along Highway 141.

We visited the shop, spent a little money and looked around Main Street before heading back home. Jill offered us a  few places to stop and eat. One of them was 'Milk and Honey' in Harlan Iowa. About 40 minutes from Manning in a westerly direction, the little café sits right off the town square that is  dotted with some specialty shops and historical buildings.

You walk in basically right to the kitchen and place your order at the counter then take a seat after grabbing your own water and place setting. I had a cheeseburger with a side salad and Brenda ordered a sweet and spicy chicken sandwich. As we waited for or order we looked around the sleepy little town. Not much activity this Saturday morning but a regular crowd shuffling in and out of the café which boasted reasonable prices and some unique fare for such a little joint.

My cheeseburger came, obviously handmade, and heavy with melted cheddar, lettuce and fresh sliced tomato. The side salad had thinly sliced beets atop arugula and mixed greens with a side of ranch dressing. Honestly, the salad was delicious and simply fresh and tasty. The burger was large and the bun was fresh with a brioche quality. It was very good also. Brenda's grilled chicken was moist and flavorful with an onion jam and a bit of heat. The home fries on the side were crispy and tender in the center. Not your usual fry. The tab was only $16. Such a bargain for a delicious afternoon meal. We were that much closer to home after stopping that the trip back to Omaha seemed much quicker than embarking on our little adventure. Great way to spend a Saturday.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

Before you start in on me, we did not fast fully this year for Lent as my recovery required a fuller protein intake that I cannot get fasting typically. We modified our fast this year to a few days a week to ensure I lost no more weight and actually gained a few pounds to promote healing. We limited our meat intake as we usually do during our weekly regiment.

I had some flour street taco tortillas and a lot of cheese in the fridge. I found a can of enchilada sauce I forgot I bought  and so I was in business.

Firstly, the sauce.  I like authentic enchilada sauce and usually make my own. For a canned sauce,  I look to make sure no tomatoes are listed in the ingredients, just peppers.

Here is my brand of sauce and if you like authentic taste, this is your sauce. It tasted exactly like my homemade sauce but so much less work.
I started the enchiladas by cooking my chopped onions just till softened slightly. A medium size onion was plenty. I had all kinds of cheese, mozzarella, cheddar and gouda. I grated a good amount of all and mixed a few cups with the onions, reserving some for topping. I added about 1/4 cup of chopped, pickled jalepenos too.

I poured some of the sauce in a flat bowl and soaked the tortillas before filling with a few tablespoons of the filling, rolling and placing seam side down in a greased casserole. I like this street taco size tortilla, just big enough for a serving of 2 for a meal. Once the pan was full, more sauce was ladled over then topped with cheese. Baked at 350 till bubbly and then served with sour cream and salsa. Yum. Even better the next day.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

I Owe You an Update....

I am back to work now, my second week back actually, full throttle. I have a desk job with a lot of walking about so its no big deal really. Everything is in place, I have a routine down and am experiencing no issues with any surgery or recovery related problems.

I am writing this because today one of my sales reps stopped by to see how I was. Apparently he is from a small Nebraska  town, Yutan, and his prayer group was wondering about me.  Well Yutan, I am great. Still down a few pounds and trying to keep it that way. So great in fact we booked a trip to Cancun in October with all the kids and others just to feel normal again and have something to anticipate besides Ben's upcoming nuptials.

I guess this should not have taken me aback as earlier,  before my return to work, I ran into another sales rep at Target and he introduced me to his son as the 'Tom' we've been praying for every night. Wow. How powerful is that? It is really humbling. So thank you one and all. I am so happy that all your petitions on my behalf worked and am thankful to actually be able to attend Ben's nuptials in December.

Thank you work, for missing me. I must contribute something though most days I just feel like I'm in the way. Thank you one and all for the prayers and thoughts as I embarked on my journey from all the folks I never met (especially in Yutan) and Roseville, CA and anywhere I happen to reach people with this silly blog or through acquaintances.

Happy Pascha everyone. We celebrate Palm Sunday this week so we are a week behind America but I am looking forward to a nice leg of lamb, family and friends gathered at the table and a cancer free life ahead, God willing.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Dinner with Old Friends

Friday night dinner with salmon in the menu and a semi Lenten feast with Western Rite Orthodox friends.  I have known Tari and Mike Choiniere since the early eighties as Tari and I worked the Cath Lab together for a few years till we moved to Cedar Rapids in '87. While we don't see each other often we decided recently to reconnect and meet every month or so.

 I wanted to make some nice Mediterranean style appetizers with some large shrimps. I started with 2 pounds of 16-20 size shrimps cooked and peeled. To this I added 1 tin of calamari with about half the sauce.

I love this calamari for its texture and smokey taste. Its cheap and delicious too.
To the seafood I mixed in some olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. A bit of parsley, some sliced pickled garlic and ground pepper rounded out the main ingredients. So light and tasty.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Eating Omaha...Via Farina

Yesterday was a busy day. The weather was amazing and we set out for an adventure which turned out to be an all day affair.
Firstly, we went shopping, of course. Hit all our major spots and I found another pair of smaller slacks for work. A few hours of that was about all I could do so we went home to rest up as we had plans to hit Lauritsen Gardens about 230. Stopped by Mackenzie's house to deliver a ottoman we picked up for her at Homegoods on the way down.

We walked through Lauritsen for a few hours and enjoyed the gardens in the green house then on to the Old Market for quick refreshments at M's Pub. While there, since no tables were available and bar seating was uncomfortable, we decided to dine at Via Farina on 10th street.

We started with a few appetizers including toasts with burratta and prosciutto, a crowd favorite. Then some fried cauliflower and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad.

All of this was followed by a delicious pepperoni pizza, thin, chewy crust with charred spots and dotted with fresh mozzarella. So tasty, definitely a spot worth visiting again and again.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My ‘Alive’ Day...February 22

Today marks the 20th anniversary of my heart attack. A strange thing to celebrate perhaps but the event had a significant impact on my family, especially the kids.

My folks attended the Scout ceremony since I was laid up in the hospital.

That Saturday night, we had been in the hot tub before going to bed. I was restless and went downstairs to experience classic symptoms of wrist, left arm, shoulder and then jaw pain. I had been working in the Cath Lab for 20 years by then and my current position at Immanuel was particularly stressful and I managed a very difficult staff. Being on call was taking its toll on me as well as the late hours and everyday struggles. 

I went upstairs to awaken Brenda and ask her to take me to the ER. She smartly refused and called the squad instead who showed up to find me writhing on the floor in the family room. Brenda was making arrangements for the kids and the neighbors were awoken to the squad parked in the circle where we lived. One of our neighbors was the EMT on duty that night. The started an IV and applied patches and a BP cuff. I have been in enough of these situation to realize the ECG was not good and my pressure was through the roof.  Everyone was trying to calm me down but I knew this wasn’t good. I just wanted to get moving.

When the squad asked where we wanted to go, Brenda said Immanuel though Methodist was much closer. So we went to Immanuel which later proved to be somewhat of a mistake to have my own staff work on me. As it was the moment we arrived, I coded and required resuscitation, being shocked several times back into rhythm. Procedures these days are much different as squads are trained now to respond in more expeditious ways to these emergencies. 

I was cathed that night after being administered tPa and being intubated to find the clot in my left anterior descending was resolving but a blockage persisted. I was brought back on Sunday to place a stent. Today, tPa is rarely used and most stents are deployed during the initial Cath. In the world of cardiology, the last 40 years have been very fluid in terms of treatments and studies for what preserves the most heart muscle. I was dismissed from the ICU to home  on Monday. 

On the following Friday, I suffered a second heart attack and was recathed and stented yet again due to acute closure of the original vessel. I did not code this time but extended the damage to my injured heart. I attended rehab faithfully, quit smoking and joined the YMCA. I went 5 days a week for years. I felt reborn somewhat, alive again. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Valentine's Dinner

This year, as in years past, Mackenzie came over for our traditional Valentine's Day feast. We had our usual dinner of filet, lobster tail and asparagus with bearnaise sauce for the steak. I ate very little because I over estimated my stamina and wore myself out. I really ate only bites but the dinner was delicious and the leftovers made a delicious pasta with Alfredo on Saturday night.  The rest of the week has been better and my appetite has been much better since. We have made frequent short trips out to shop for groceries and smaller clothes. Each outing gets a nap afterwards but I'm really doing better everyday.

Milk Bread Rolls

Rather write out the recipe for these amazing rolls I made I thought I would simply give you the link. Not sure why but this worked like charm. Tender, perfect texture and flavor.

Fresh out if the oven...they look commercial.

After the last rise and brushed with egg wash.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Special Requests

Meatloaf. Who knew? I have had several requests for the recipe of this meatloaf I made.

So, normally I don’t make meatloaf except on Brenda’s birthday but I wanted an easy, high protein snack for my recovery and my tastes since surgery have been rather unusual to say the least.

I generally make meatloaf stuffed with something and free form so the grease drains away.  This time I had leftover ricotta, provolone and an open jar of Rao’s pasta sauce.

3 pounds ground beef at least 80/20.
1 pound ground pork
5 slices white bread soaked in milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 tbls Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
I used the Kitchen Aid paddle attachment to mix this into a cohesive mass.
I lined a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap and spread the meat in an even layer.
Apply the toppings which  could have included a bit of leftover charcuterie I had on hand but forgot about it.
Use the wrap to tightly roll the whole thing into a tight spiral. Line the pan now with parchment and position the meat in the center. Shape and compact. Remove all the plastic wrap.
Bake at 350 to an internal temp of 165 degrees. Towards the end I like to glaze the loaf with a 3 T ketchup, 2t Dijon, 2 T brown sugar mixture and bake it on till shiny. Enjoy.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Two Steps Foward, One Step Back

We gave it our best shot and tried to remain home but the nausea got the best of me despite doses of Zofran. I pretty much brought forth three days of home living and attempts to eat. So muchso that Brenda became alarmed and called the surgery team on call and was instructed to come directly to the ER. Ben was awoken and headed over to package me up and take us to the ER.

Once there, a quick NG was inserted followed by more vomiting, a cold tip to the CT scanner and the admitted back to Werner for therapy, more contrast studies and IV nutrition. No food, no water and a great hunger. i am now empty, really empty.  
I am not sure I have ever desired food or drink more in my life but fear the result if I take it in.
Meanwhile everyone has been kind, coming to visit or texting me. I have been able to get some rest, pray privately for relief and be bored to tears. I hope the worst is over. I feel everyone pulling for me. Nothing left to do but get better.


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