28 February 2009

Lakewinds Deli Pasta

This has got to be the best pasta salad around. When I got the recipe I was told it was originally from the Lakewinds Deli. Lakewinds started out as a food co-op up in Minnesota back in 1972. This is similar to, but not the same as the recipe they have currently posted on their site.

Lakewinds Deli Pasta

1 pound gemelli or other pasta of choice
1/2 cup chopped oil packed sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
3/4 bunch sliced green onions
3/4 cup pitted, halved kalamata olives
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp shredded fresh basil

1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Cook the pasta and cool by running it under cold water. Drain well. Combine the pasta with the sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, green onions, kalamata olives, Parmesan and basil.

Combine the dressing ingredients (olive oil, garlic, balsamic, lemon juice, and salt) in a blender and purée until emulsified.

Combine the dressing and the pasta mixture and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Bookmark and Share

Artichoke Salad with Watercress & Figs

Served in a tangerine Fiesta bowl with the figs and watercress freshly gathered at the farm.

Artichoke Salad with Watercress & Figs
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into thin half moon slices
kosher salt
1 1/2 cups deli artichoke salad* (or marinated artichoke hearts - add a few slivered oil-packed sundried tomatoes with these)
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into thin ribbons

juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ume plum vinegar
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
freshly ground black pepper, to taste - I am generous
kosher salt, to taste

2 bunches watercress, stem tips trimmed, left whole
8-10 fresh figs, split lengthwise
2-3 fresh green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Place a small amount of oil, pine nuts, garlic and onion in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté briefly. Stir in artichoke hearts and red pepper ribbons and sauté just until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together lemon juice, oil, vinegars and maple syrup, adjusting seasonings to taste.

To plate the salad, arrange watercress on a platter (or in individual bowls) with figs around the edges. Spoon sautéed artichoke heart mixture over the top. Sprinkle with green onions and drizzle lightly with dressing, serving the remaining dressing on the side for those who want to use more. Serve immediately.


*1. The artichoke salad I get has artichokes, sundried tomates, and garlic - in a marinade. I just chop it all before adding to the skillet.
2. I gather watercress out of the creek at the farm and eyeball it for the right amount.
3. Mike paid me the nicest compliment the first time I made this salad. He said it was things like this that made foodies different from other people. We have a vision to be able to tell that seemingly unusual things will taste great together.

Bookmark and Share

Poached Salmon in Courtbouillon

As I've mentioned before, salmon is a favourite food at our house. This recipe for poaching it originally came from a friend on a foodie board. I've made it many times as it is so delicious. Plus, when I poach a whole side of salmon I get to use my lovely fish poacher.

Courtboullion in the fish poacher:

Salmon added:

Fish is cooked:

And served with steamed rice and sautéed fiddleheads on a vintage Harlequin plate:

Poached Salmon in Courtbouillon

1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 onion, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
4 springs fresh parsley
1 tsp dried dillweed
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 1-inch thick salmon steaks or filets (about 1-1/2 pounds) or a whole side of salmon

Combine the wine, water, onion, lemon, parsley, dillweed and pepper in a large skillet or poacher. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer ten minutes. Add the salmon;; cover and gently simmer until salmon flakes easily. This might be as few as 8 minutes or as long as 20 minutes depending on the thickness and size of the salmon. Do not overcook. Remove from poaching liquid and serve.

Bookmark and Share

26 February 2009

Vote for Sophie

This is Sophie - the cutest dog on earth.

Sophie is Abbey's baby and she is in a contest. Please click here and vote for Sophie.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday Medical Update

Today's neutrophil count: 0.6. Hooray. That's enough for me to go out in public. Actually, I went out in public yesterday. We finally left the hospital about 3:00 and Mike took me to Rosie's Cantina. I had a shrimp quesadilla and premium margarita. Boy were they good!

So I saw my doc in his office this morning. He called the Sarah Cannon Institute while I was there. My appointment is with the head of the transplant department at 11:00 on Monday morning. That's good, cause I can have the whole weekend to make my list of questions. Also, they told me to come prepared to stay overnight in case they need to go ahead and do some tests then. They're going to fax me all the paperwork this afternoon, so I will have it ready when I arrive.

One side effect from being in the hospital that I wasn't expecting. The hospital windows all have dark coating on them. My windows at home are not coated. And our bed is right by a window wall that has no coverings. It's really bright in here. I think I'm going to have to wear my shades for a bit. Weird.
Bookmark and Share

25 February 2009

Wonderful Wednesday Medical Update

Neutrophil count: 0.45

Yea!!!! I am going home. My hematolgist has released me. We're just waiting for my infectious disease doc to come and give me prescriptions to take home. I go see my doc in the morning and will get platelets if I need them. While I am there he will call the transplant team at Sarah Cannon and see if I can see them on Friday. We are on a roll.

Yesterday afternoon my sister brought me a huge bouquet of daffodils from her yard. They smell so wonderful. I'll be glad to see how mine are blooming. DD#2 came by after school to visit and brought me Mardi Gras beads to wear. And last night Abbey and Donnie came to visit and brought me Bang Bang Shrimp for dinner. I'm sure all that special TLC is what got me well enough for the docs to let me leave.
Bookmark and Share

24 February 2009

Mardi Gras Medical Update

It's the Mardi Gras Mambo, mambo, mambo,
Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo,
Mardi Gras mambo-o-o-o, down in New Orleans.

Well, I might not be able to Mardi Gras Mambo in NOLA or even bake our king cake here, but I do have good neutrophil news. 0.35! Yea! I'm excited!

The neupogen shots they're giving me are making me feel crummy, but I now see hope of getting out of this place. My psyche needs it, if nothing else. Mike says our daffodils are all blooming. I need to see them.

Bookmark and Share

23 February 2009

The HAT ~ I ordered it!

I love hats. I think I've mentioned that before. This afternoon I decided to cheer myself up and order Aretha's inaugural hat - in red. Just my colour. They say allow four weeks for delivery. I can hardly wait!

Bookmark and Share

Monday Medical Update

Well, what is with these neutrophils? Today's number was 0.12. Technically I'm stable, but I really need to see that number getting higher. I feel a lot better today and I want to go home. My lung doc says as far as he is concerned I can be released. My infectious disease doctor is going to consult with my hematologist and see what we can work out. Frankly, I'm less likely to catch something at home than I am here. Lots less people coming into contact with me.

So faithful blog readers, visualise neutrophils and think positively for me going home!
Bookmark and Share

22 February 2009

Sunday Evening Medical Update

Well, I'm sorry to say I haven't felt so good today. Ever since they woke me at 2:30 this morning to take blood, I've just been blah and droopy. And I had a spell where I nearly blacked out. Wound up sitting on the bathroom floor for a bit to get OK again. The doc said it's likely too much Lasix. I was also very low on potassium this morning. The pills didn't get it back up high enough so they gave me an IV dose as well.

Neutrophil count: 0.16. Maybe I can blame that on the Lasix as well. Probably not. But I'm trying to do a good job of visualising more and more of them. I am so ready to go home and they need to be a lot higher than this to get out of here. So think positively when they take blood @ 2:00-2:30 that mine will just be swimming with neutrophils.

Mike has spent the afternoon with me, but I mostly slept through the early part. I had to get red blood today and am still on all the anti drugs, oxygen and breathing treatments. So we hope tomorrow's count is better.

Bookmark and Share

21 February 2009

Saturday Medical Update

Today's neutrophil count: 0.19. Slowly, but surely, still going up! I thank you all for your continued help in the visualisations.

Because my neutrophil count is rising, my doc is letting me have fresh fruits and vegetable again. I can't tell you how much I've missed those! Last night I had fruit and today for lunch I had a chef salad. It was so good!

They all say they are waiting for my count to get to 0.5 for me to go home. But I'm still on all the meds and oxygen. I have to wonder are they keeping me on those until I get to 0.5 and then take me off of them to see how I do? That occurred to me this morning and of course, all the regular docs are off for the weekend. That will be a Monday question.

So I am feeling better and my psyche is feeling better too. It's a good day.
Bookmark and Share

20 February 2009

Friday Medical Update

Today's neutrophil count: 0.17. Good news because that is double from yesterday!

I still have pneumonia, but my breathing is sounding better. I'm still on all the anti-drugs (biotic, fungal, viral) and the associated meds to keep me from getting sick from those. Yesterday afternoon, those somehow got off schedule and I had an episode of severe nausea, throwing up, etc., but have been back on track since.

This morning I woke up feeling better and had been awaiting platelets for several hours. When they finally sent some up, they were from an A+ donor. My blood type is O+. Type is not supposed to be an issue with platelets, but we have noticed that I have reactions to A and B platelets at least half the time. Today, of course, I had a reaction. And it started within 5 minutes of the transfusion starting. Before when I've had a reaction, it's been near to the end of or right after a transfusion. When I have a reaction I turn red and big welts appear all over me, particularly my face, arms, and legs. Mike stopped the platelets while I was calling the nurse. I had been premedicated with Tylenol and Benadryl, but that didn't help this time. They gave me Solumedrol and monitored my vitals for an hour.

All this was about 10:30. I'm pretty much back to normal now and they have ordered ABO matched platelets for me. It's now 3:00 and they just started the new transfusion. I premedicated again, this time with 50 mg IV Benadryl. I am begining to get very sleepy. They'll be doing something called HLA matching, but that won't happen until next week. In the meanwhile I will keep my fingers crossed for Os.

So now for the bigger news. It's official. I am definitely on the path to a bone marrow transplant. My hemotolgist has talked with the director of the transplant unit at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute. and as soon as I am well enough to get out of here, I will see the transplant guy and proceed from there.
Bookmark and Share

19 February 2009

Thursday Morning Medical Update

Today's good news is that I woke up feeling better after sleeping well most of the night. Also my neutrophil count is 0.08. I'm excited to see that's going in the right direction again.

I'm still on oxygen and still running a fever, but overall have to say I think I'm improving.
Bookmark and Share

18 February 2009

Wednesday Afternoon Medical Update

Sorry to take so long between posts, but I just wasn't feeling up to writing anything. Yesterday I wound up sleeping most of the day and actually did a lot of that today, too.

Well, as usual, there is some good news and not so good news. Yesterday's neutrophil count was 0.07. Today the count was 0.05. This could be because I am finally making enough that they are going off and fighting the infection I have. We still don't know what it is. I still keep having fever. I still have pneumonia. Yesterday's bronchoscopy didn't turn up anything (that's good), but I was finally able to breath a little better after that.

So I am still trying to get my neutrophil counts up. Still trying to get over the pneumonia. Still on antivirals, antifungals and antibiotics by IV. I appreciate everyone's prayers, good thoughts, etc.
Bookmark and Share

16 February 2009

Monday Medical Update

Good news and not so good news. While I would have liked to have seen it keep moving up, maintaining is not uncommon to see.

First the neutrophils maintained at 0.17


Red counts and and platelets are both down. I'll be getting red cells today, but don't know about why no whites.

The not so good news. I'm still having a very hard time breathing and keeping my oxygen levels up. The Breathing Treatment Centre came over and assessed me. They determined I need to be on oxygen when ever I'm in the room

Last night they took me to have a CAT scan. You lay down flat and they put you in this machine that looks like some out of the future appliance. My infectious disease doctor says a lung doctor is going to come see me in the morning, put me quasi to sleep (such that I don't remember anyway), take a sample, wash out my lung, etc.

...Lung doctor came while I was typing. I felt comfortable with him. They will do the procedure (bronchoscopy) at 10:00 in the morning and I will have to get platelets beforehand. He says the best thing to happen would be for him to find nothing. I have improved since getting here and it could be it is just taking a while for the meds to completely knock it out. Please think positively with lots of good healing thoughts. All this is somewhat worrisome.
Bookmark and Share

15 February 2009

Sunday Medical Update


Oh those happy little neutrophils. Today's absolute count is 0.17. That's enough of an upward trend for me to be excited.

My red count is down, so I will be getting one unit of red cells as soon as the blood bank sends them up. Platelets are OK until tomorrow. My infectious disease doc took me off one of the antibiotics. Not sure which one, but it was the pretty pink pills, rather than one of the IV ones. Still getting Lasix in the mornings so that I can have use of my hands for most of the day. They've also put me on breathing treatments. I've had two of those so far and think I will ask for another soon. They are helping.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday Scenery

Old Hand Pump Well
Lincoln County, Tennessee

I like to go driving around in the country when I'm able, just enjoying the scenery and looking for things to photograph. One day last summer we were out for a leisurely drive and passed by this old well with a hand pump. I would have liked to have gotten out and tested it to see if it still worked, but such pumps usually need to be primed and calmer minds (that would be my spouse) prevailed. I'd like to think it still works.

Sunday Scenery is a great meme! It was started by Lee over at Tarheel Ramblings. Check it out if you get a chance.

Bookmark and Share

14 February 2009

Saturday Medical Update

My doc's PA just came by. He and the infectious disease doctor had spent some time chatting. They are ordering some nebulising breathing treatments for me. Also Phenergen for the nausea, as the Zofran doesn't seem to be working so well right now. Whites and reds are OK for today, but I will need those transfused tomorrow. As I wasn't going anywhere anyway.... LOL.

Neutrophil actual count is 0.11. That is almost double of what it was yesterday. Thank you all so much for helping me with the visualisations! It's working!!!


Bookmark and Share

Berries on a Cloud

I found the original version of this recipe many years ago in a Betty Crocker cookbook. In it the meringue was shaped in an 8" round and the topping was canned cherry pie filling. I do not care for canned pie fillings. They always have a metallic taste to me. And we all love fresh strawberries. Thus, Berries on a Cloud was born.

This is our traditional Valentine's Day dessert. As a matter of fact, it is probably our all time favourite dessert. A couple of years Abbey wanted this instead of a birthday cake. Who am I to argue? If you want to have individual servings, that works, too. Just shape the meringues into small rounds or hearts before you bake them.

This year will make year 32 that I will have made Berries on a Cloud for this holiday. And although we're not having it today, due to this sojourn in the hospital, I hope to get sprung sometime this week and will plan our Valentine's meal on the next day that I feel like cooking.

Many of you know I collect art deco. In the collection are various pieces of chrome. Chase, Farber and Revere all made their own novelties and electrics. This Heart Set by Chase is perfect for Berries on a Cloud.

I use the tray to draw the shape for the meringue, thus insuring a perfect fit for a perfect dessert.

Berries on a Cloud

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 dash salt
5 drops red food colouring
2 cups strawberries

For Meringue: Heat oven to 275ºF. Cover baking sheet with heavy brown paper or parchment paper. Use heart shaped cake pan to draw a pattern on brown or parchment paper. (I use the Chase Heart Tray for serving, so I use that to draw my heart shape on the paper.)

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar till foamy. Beat in the sugar 1 Tbsp at a time; continue beating till stiff and glossy. Shape meringue into heart on the paper, building up the sides. Bake 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and leave meringue sitting inside for another hour. Remove from oven and finish cooling away from draft.

For Filling: Blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. In a chilled bowl beat cream till stiff. Gently fold cream and marshmallows into cream cheese mixture. Pile into meringue shell, again building up the sides some, and chill at least 12 hours.

For Topping: Mix sugar, cornstarch and water. Cook till thickened, stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice, salt and colouring. Cool. Gently fold in strawberries. Just before serving put the strawberries on top of filling.

1. This dessert needs to be started a day ahead of when you want to serve it.
2. Depending on the size of the strawberries, they might need to be halved or quartered.

Bookmark and Share

Photo Hunt ~ Nautical

PhotoHunt #149: Nautical. Oh there are so many different ways to have gone with this theme. Ideas are still twirling through my mind, but I decided to be whimsical.

These funny looking vehicles were amphibious landing vehicles from WWII. They can drive on streets, then off into the water and become boats. Since then they have become the centres of tours in several places, but the Boston Duck Tours are the most famous. Give one a try if you get a chance. I thought they were fun.

PhotoHunt is hosted by TNChick. Check it out!

Bookmark and Share

13 February 2009

Friday the 13th Evening Medical Update

Whilst in the little window between taking Lortab and Codeine, and them actually kicking in, I'm going to do today's update. This morning I had low reds and low platelets, so I got a transfusion of each of those today. Still nothing from Mayo Clinic, so I am staying on the same mega doses of anti-drugs (biotics, fungals, virals). It's really too bad that those keep me so nauseated. But I'm getting Zofran as needed. Today the doc upped my dose of Lasix to 6. Finally I can see what my fingers are supposed to look like. The original rash is slowly fading away. All these things are good things.

I know you're all on pins and needles about the neutrophils. I certainly was. Today they were 0.06. Slowly but surely. Slowly but surely.

My infectious disease doctor ordered another chest x-ray and I haven't heard back on that yet. She'll let me know in the morning. In the last couple of days I've also started having coughing fits. By mid-morning I just could not stop coughing at all, so they called my doc. That's where the Codeine is coming from - mixed in the Robetussin. Today, for the first time since being in here, I actually got about four hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was great. And once my dinner tray gets here (big saga that I will post about later). I'm going to eat and go to bed.

Friends, I want to thank you all so much for your continued help with the prayers, good thoughts, healing karma and visualisations. I know our combined efforts are having a positive effect. Now that I have some neutrophils, I'm going to work on them increasing exponentially.


Bookmark and Share