Odds and ends

I don’t have enough news for one whole blog post, so here are the briefs from the past couple of weeks.

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Rudy’s foot has healed up nicely, and he is 100% back to normal in every respect. He was mighty happy to get that cape off at last.

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I have managed to mow my lawn four times so far this year and yet have mentioned it on social media only once. But the season is still young and this is Going Forward, so …

lawn-mowing-posts

😉

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A couple of my readers are keenly interested in knowing this: I am averaging more than 7 hours a night on the CPAP machine, with no real problems to deal with. It’s amazing what one can get used to. When I first started with the CPAP, the mask caused pressure sores around my nose, the pressure blew my mouth open all night long, the air flow dried everything out, and I could not find any comfortable position in which to sleep other than flat on my back. I usually ended up tearing the mask off after less than an hour.

Now, I put the mask on, turn on the machine, roll over and go to sleep, and it’s still on my face when I wake up 7 or 8 hours later. I hardly notice it anymore, even when I sleep on my side, and it leaves no evidence of its use in the morning. The air flow coming into the mask is equivalent to a small hair dryer on a low setting—no wispy draft, in other words, but rather a brisk torrent—yet as long as my mouth is closed, I don’t even feel it. I was not sure this thing was ever going to work, so I’m grateful to have finally made peace with it. I don’t (yet) feel any different when I wake up in the morning, though, and have no way to gauge whether it’s helping me or not. I guess I have to assume it is!

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When I visited my parents several weeks ago, my mother sent me home with several goodies, including her last African Violet plant, which was not doing well since she’s been unable to take care of things around the house as well as she used to. It was a pale, droopy, sick-looking thing that hadn’t bloomed in living memory. I repotted it as soon as I got back to my house, and have been fertilizing it every week with African Violet food. It’s doing great!

african-violet

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I’m on a Mexican food kick lately, and I found an inexpensive molcajete (stone mortar and pestle) at the Big Box Store a few days ago that I just had to have. The care instructions say it needs to be “seasoned,” meaning you have to essentially sand off all the loose grit by grinding up a few batches of uncooked rice in it before making, say, guacamole. I tried that and got nowhere—rice is a heck of a lot more abrasion resistant than you might expect—so I went to the internet to find better instructions. The Mija Chronicles told me what I needed to know, although I didn’t like it a bit. This is how she says to season a molcajete:

Note: This is going to take a few hours, so make sure you’re well-nourished and rested when you start.

Gather about 1 cup each of dried, split corn and dried beans, and 1 1/2 cups of dried white rice. In Mexico, you can find these things at almost any mercado.

Toss a scant 1/4 cup of ground corn into your molcajete. Grind until it turns into coarse flour. You don’t want it too coarse—I’ve found that just when you think you might be done, you should grind for another 20 minutes or so, just to get a better texture. When the corn is done, scoop it into the trash. Repeat with the next round. Do this four times.

Repeat with the dried beans, which will also be ground four separate times, until they’re completely dissolved and flour-like. On the third turn of beans, start soaking about 1/2 cup of your white rice in water.

When you’re done with the beans, move on to the dried rice and grind it four separate times. Then grind the soaked rice three times. When you’re done, rinse your molcajete under water and use a little brush or small hand-broom to clean it. Turn it upside-down to air dry.

It took me an hour to get through three batches of beans before my arm pretty much just fell off.

Turning this…

molcajete-with-beans

into this …
molcajete-with-bean-flour

is some hard work. You can pound on those beans for 10 solid minutes and there will still be dozens in the batch that look as though they have never been touched by a human hand, let alone a stone pestle. And the worst part is that even after three rounds of grinding dried pinto beans into muy fine flour, thank you very much, the damn thing is still gritty. I learned too late that cheap molcajetes sold in big box stores are often made with (relatively soft) concrete and never lose their grittiness. Yay. We’ll see how my first batch of guacamole comes out before deciding whether to keep this thing.

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The first anniversary of my mother’s stroke came and went at the end of April. She was apprehensive about it, but I encouraged her to mark the day by celebrating all that she has accomplished since the morning she woke up in the hospital and could barely move. She couldn’t even sit up straight without assistance for weeks and couldn’t walk for months. Now she gets around her house quite handily with a walker and wheelchair (and has walked with a cane with her rehab therapist), is able to handle all the washroom chores on her own, and helps with meal prep, washing dishes, and many other household tasks. She and my dad have started going to the rehab gym at the hospital and working out three days a week, she’s able to get up and down the entryway stairs and walk with a walker from the house to the garage, and she’s even taking a t’ai chi class and talking about driving again. She’s a remarkable model of strength, courage and perseverance. She doesn’t consider herself brave or in any other way remarkable, though. She just sees herself as playing the hand she’s been dealt as best she can. Well, we’re proud of her anyway.

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And finally, I have for you a fantastic recipe! Big Oven makes a Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce that will knock your socks off.

chicken-in-basil-cream-9

It is by far the best thing I’ve cooked all year, and I am looking forward to making it again tomorrow night. I followed the recipe for the most part … I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper before breading it because otherwise it’s always too bland for my taste. Also, I used Peppadew peppers instead of pimentos because they’re easy for me to get and OMG-so-delicious: sweet and just a tad spicy. Try ’em if you can find ’em!

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Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and Happy Mothers Day to all the moms! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Odds and ends

  1. Do you have huge arm muscles now? 🙂 I’m glad Rudy is all better, and I’m sure you are, too. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since your Mom’s stroke – she sounds like a fighter so I can see where you get your fortitude. Your African Violet looks great. I had several of them in our old house that were great bloomers. Their home was a shelf in a south facing window in the laundry room. When I brought them here to the new house, they didn’t do well at all as there just wasn’t enough light. So I had to find another home for them. I miss them.

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