Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One Year

Today it has been one year. 

One year since I flew home in a panic, fighting back the tears but not the nerves, ripping at my cuticles and picking off my nail polish. A year since I stood at my mother's windows seeing and yet not seeing the beautiful sun set over my home town.

Beautiful summer sunset in the Boston suburbs | www.BakingInATornado.com

It's been a year since we said "love you" as she began to get sleepy. Since we memorized her assigned number, 763, a number I will never forget. Since we sat in that waiting room staring endlessly at the board. Watched the words by 763 go from "in pre-op" to "surgery started" to "surgery ended" and finally to "in recovery" and knew we could almost breathe again. Almost.

Hospital update board | www.BakingInATornadolcom

It's been a year since we waited to be allowed into the recovery room, then were caught sneaking in, then waited some more and tried to sneak in yet again. Since the nurse had pity on us and allowed us to just see her for a second, then told us emphatically to go get something to eat, we could meet her in her room in an hour.

Since the cocktails that followed. 

Cocktails in Kenmore Square | www.BakingInATornado.com

It's been a year since we looked on in shock as she got out of the transport bed and walked to her hospital bed. Walked. And no, it wasn't those cocktails. Since we sat with her and witnessed her complete comeback from the drowsiness of the anesthesia. Since we asked the doctor and the nurse endless questions, and since at the end of visiting hours we turned her TV on and asked if she needed anything.

"How am I supposed to know what's on? I need a TV guide." 

Quickly exiting her room then, we looked at each other, not a word was said, we were both thinking the same thing: "she's baaaaack."

On our way out, without pausing or missing a step, my sister threw the ball into the nurse's court "she needs a TV guide." And with that we pushed our way through the double doors and giggled.

Yes, it's even been one year since that first post-surgical laugh.

It's been a year since we brought her home. Since my heart broke as I endlessly emptied the drain and changed bandages and heard over and over "it's so ugly, how can you stand to look at it?" Since I answered that all I saw was strength.

It's been a year since I fielded phone calls, went to follow up appointments, critiqued endless clothing options, served meals and afternoon tea to more friends and family than I can count.

A year has also passed since that bittersweet day came when she declared herself self-sufficient, even made me her famous lobster salad, and sent me back home.

A year since I cried on those flights, knowing that the next assault would be chemo. That she was not allowing me to come back for it.

I have never lost a body part. Still have my tonsils and appendix even. But I watched it happen, a year ago, so I know that celebrating that loss, even knowing it meant life, would feel just so . . . insensitive. 

So as there tends to be with most anniversaries there will be no balloons, no gifts, no "surprise" yelled into a room full of friends and family. 

And yet, that horrible wonderful day was about early detection. It was about health and about hope. It was about strength and determination and the will to overcome. It does need to be marked, acknowledged in some way. 

I'll spend the day today more relieved. Way way more relieved than the way I spent this day in 2016. I'll have a quiet dinner with my family. And after much thought I've decided that there will be cake.

Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake, an angel food loaf infused with blueberries and raspberry liqueur then frosted with flavored whipped cream. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert #cake #blueberries
Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake
Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake, an angel food loaf infused with blueberries and raspberry liqueur then frosted with flavored whipped cream. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert #cake #blueberries

Because there is, in fact, something that I am celebrating.

One year.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake         

1 box (3 oz) Berry Blue jello
OPT: 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur
1 10 oz (8 X 4) Angel Food Loaf, cooled
1/3 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup whipping cream

OPT: additional blueberries for garnish

*Dissolve the jello granules completely in 1 cup boiling water. Mix in 1/4 cup cold water and 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur (or you can use cold water if desired). Place half of the liquid jello in the fridge while preparing the rest of the cake.
*Cut the Angel Food loaf in half lengthwise about halfway up from the bottom. Place the bottom half onto a serving plate. With a chopstick, dot this cake loaf half with holes. Do not go  through the bottom of the cake. 
*Gently press half of the blueberries into the holes. Carefully pour 1/2 of jello not refrigerated over the cake. 
*Dot the second half of the cake loaf and insert the remaining blueberries. Place onto the bottom half on the serving plate and pour the remaining unrefrigerated jello over the top.
*Carefully, using a paper towel, remove the excess jello from the plate around the cake. Refrigerate.
*After about 1/2 hour (you want the jello in the fridge to just start to thicken but not completely gel), beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks hold. Remove the jello from the fridge and beat into the whipped cream. NOTE: if the jello has thickened too much, whisk in a little hot water. 
*Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Carefully remove the top layer and spread a very small amount of frosting onto the bottom layer. Replace the top and frost the entire cake with whipped cream. Decorate with additional blueberries. Place unused whipped cream into a sealed bag in the refrigerator to dollop onto slices when serving.
*Store cake in refrigerator.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kicked by Karma: Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 8 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

When College Boy is home, I like to bounce recipe ideas off of him. Not only is he a good sounding board, but he almost always figures out what a recipe needs when I feel it's not quite done. 

I had an idea for a lunch recipe and since he was home was excited to share my thoughts with him before I made it.

Me: Want to hear my latest recipe idea?
College Boy: Sure.
Me: It's a take off on, well, inspired by
College Boy (interrupting me): Tiramisu?
Me: {{blink, blink}} Huh?
College Boy: Just putting it out there . . .

So much for my lunch idea.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

PurDude was about 3 weeks into his internship in Ohio. They're putting him up in a really nice, fully furnished 2 bedroom apartment. He's never lived alone before so, when he called I asked him all those mom questions.

Me: You're changing the sheets on your bed, right?
PurDude: Yes, Mom.
Me: And you're keeping the place clean?
PurDude: Yes, Mom.
Me: What are you eating for dinners?
PurDude: I'm buying frozen breaded fish filets and throwing them in the oven. Chicken dishes too.
Me: So you're not cooking at all, just reheating.
PurDude: Yup.
Me: Are you buying any fruit or vegetables?
PurDude: I've been eating a lot of bananas.
Me: Good. They're healthy. So . . . I guess you don't need me after all.
PurDude: No, not at all.
Me: Umm, son? I'm not sure that was the right answer . . .

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

It was a Sunday afternoon and Hubs was in the kitchen looking for some lunch.

Me: There's plenty of deli in the fridge.

I walk into the kitchen a couple of minutes later and he's finishing making a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Me: You didn't want the deli?
Hubs: I did, I made peanut butter and jelly.
Me: I didn't say jelly. I said deli. Deli. I bought you deli meat for lunches.
Hubs: Oh, I thought you said jelly.
Me: You thought I was telling you to eat jelly?
Hubs: Umm, yeah?
Me (mumbling under my breath): Whatever you do, don't get your hearing checked.
Hubs: What?
Me (speaking up a bit): Exactly.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

We had bought a new grill and I was using it for the first time.

Hubs: This grill does a great job. The chicken is tender and juicy.
Me: Ahem.
Hubs: What?
Me: A smart man would say that the cook did a great job with the chicken.
Hubs: Well, we just got a new grill.
Me: AHEM! I marinated the chicken and I cooked it.
Hubs: The cook did a great job with dinner tonight. I'm sure the grill had nothing to do with it.
Me: That only took you 3 tries.
College Boy: You can "ahem" all you want, I'd rather have a steak.

Why do I even bother?

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I was cut to the core recently, kicked in the gut, taken down by an offhand comment. It still hurts.

I have an art gallery in my stairway that leads down to the basement where I proudly showcase my boys' earliest artwork. Anyone who goes down to the basement can't miss it. This includes the young man from the heating and air company who came to replace some vents for our new furnace.

Family stairway art gallery | www.BakingInATornado.com

He walked down the stairs, looked at the artwork and said to me "do you have grandchildren"?

Grandchildren? Ouch. How old do I look? Don't answer that. Ever. Ever. 

I always said that I put those pictures there out of pride. But as the boys got to be teenagers and were embarrassed every time their friends walked by them, I kept them there out of sheer evil joy. Moms don't get many opportunities to get back at their smart-mouthed teenagers, you learn to take them where you can.

And apparently you also eventually learn that karma truly is a bitch.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

It had been a long day. We had storms pass through the night before and the sump pump in the basement had stopped working. Until Hubs could get it working again, we'd been on a bucket brigade. 

Fortunately I'd made my SW Ranch Picnic Salad the day before, so I decided to throw burgers on the grill and call it dinner. College Boy was here and he loves burgers and anything with a bit of a kick so I knew he'd be happy with dinner.

Of course he had to say something snarky at dinner, it wouldn't be us if someone didn't. I reached over to flick his arm but couldn't reach. Pushed forward a bit and tried to swat him and still couldn't reach, and I was just too tired to move.

Me: Come here.
College Boy (pushing away and laughing): No.
Me: Just come here for one second.
College Boy: Not gonna happen.
Me: I need to tell you a secret.
College Boy (laughing): I'll pass.
Me (feigning anger): I'm your mom and I said get over here and listen to my damn secret!
College Boy: Yeah, I don't think so.

Everything was so much easier when they were little.

SW Ranch Picnic Salad, a side salad perfect for any cookout. Quick, 4 ingredient dressing for this make ahead side dish | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #SideDish.

SW Ranch Picnic Salad
SW Ranch Picnic Salad, a side salad perfect for any cookout. Quick, 4 ingredient dressing for this make ahead side dish | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #SideDish.

We had a new furnace, a/c unit and dehumidifier put in the house. In the mail we'd gotten a card from the installer with all the info we needed to go online and sign up for the warranty. I talked to my husband about it at dinner.

Me: At some point this weekend we need to go online and fill out the warranty info.
Hubs: Or you can do it over the next few days.
Me: Well, it doesn't matter who does it, it just needs to be at some point this weekend.
Hubs: What I was saying was, if you have time, we don't need to wait for the weekend.
Me: Well, it's Friday now.
Hubs: It's Monday.
Me: {{blink, blink}}

Yup, it was Monday.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Hubs: How do I shut off the automatic timer on the coffee maker and just turn it on.
Me: Press "auto" to shut off the timer, then just press "on".
Hubs: Press "auto", OK.
Me: You won't remember.
Hubs: Maybe not, I'm getting old.
Me: Yes you are, sometimes I surprised when you remember the way home after work.
Hubs: Ouch.
Me: Too far?

Hubs: Little bit . . .

 Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

was writing a poem that I posted earlier this week, it was in honor of Cow Appreciation Day. Yeah, that's a thing, google it.

I wanted to mention the patty but College Boy and I both were concerned that it might seem as though I was talking about the kind of patty you eat . . . way different from the kind you step in. We googled (what would I do without google?) cow patty to see if there was a synonym I could use. I'm reading them out loud . . . cow pie . . . manure . . . cowplop . . . crap . . . 

Of course College Boy stopped me there. Crap. That's the one.

Umm . . . back to cow patty. Maybe I'll just add a visual to avoid confusion? Maybe not. 

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

It's no secret I keep trying to get College Boy to write me a guest post. He's passionate and persuasive when it comes to politics and legalizing marijuana. I keep asking, he keeps refusing, I keep trying.

What if I skip the "will you or won't you" portion of our program, assume he will and just start a conversation about topic?

Me: So . . . are you thinking of writing about politics or marijuana legalization?
College Boy: I'm thinking about writing about not writing a guest post.
Me: OK. We can go with that.
College Boy: And I intend to lead by example.

Yeah, you can bet that means what I think that means.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Menopausal Mother 
Searching for Sanity 
Go Mama O 
Spatulas on Parade 
A Little Piece of Peace 
Never Ever Give Up Hope 
Bookworm in the Kitchen 

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

SW Ranch Picnic Salad
12 oz tricolor rotini
1 (2 oz) jar pimentos, drained
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cooked chopped bacon bits 

1/3 cup ranch salad dressing
2 TBSP Italian salad dressing
1/2 tsp chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes

1/3 cup French's crispy jalapenos, crushed

*Cook the rotini al dente, drain and rinse 2 - 3 times with cold water. Drain well. Place in a medium sized bowl. Gently mix in the pimento, green onion, corn kernels, black beans and bacon bits.
*Whisk together the ranch dressing, Italian dressing, chopped cilantro and dried red pepper flakes. Pour over the pasta and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight, mixing once or twice.
*To serve, mix again and top with the crushed crispy jalapenos. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ode to the Cow

I'm doing a second poetry post this month and here's why: each month the poetry group participants suggest, discuss and choose a theme for the month. The proposals are diverse, but some are thrown out there just as a joke. A member may google that month and find some interesting tidbits, especially since there's now a day set aside for pretty much everything.

Jules suggested Reflection. Lydia put out a number of serious themes, but also added that July has a Cow Appreciation Day. I jumped on that and I wasn't alone. With my vote we were tied. Of course we were. I abstained and we went with the theme Reflection. But I really, really wanted to wax poetic about my appreciation for cows. Turns out a few brave friends did too. Today's the day.

Humorous poetry in honor of Cow Appreciation Day. | www.BakingInATornado,com | #poem #poetry #MyGraphics

I've actually written about cows before believe it or not (well, their male counterparts anyway), about four years ago. But since Full of Bull is about my having learned of the mortifying practice of eating . . . well . . . their private parts, I'm not sure that one really falls into the realm of cow appreciation. 

Let's correct that now.

Ode to the Cow

Mrs. Cow, to you I vow,
appreciation, here and now.

It's your day, and may I say,
amazing, what you do with hay.

Milk you share, nothing can compare.
Drink, cook, bake, use it everywhere.

Chocolate Berry Cobbler, chocolate cookies mixed with fresh berries baked with a chocolate topping. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #berries #dessert

Chocolate Berry Cobbler
Chocolate Berry Cobbler, chocolate cookies mixed with fresh berries baked with a chocolate topping. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #berries #dessert

(What? You were expecting a beef recipe?)

Kids delight at the sound of "moo". Friendly, love to pet you too.
Calves at your side, gentle nature shows through.

So, Mrs. Cow, to you I vow,
appreciation, here and now.


While we're chatty, not to be catty.
Please? . . . less production of the patty. 

'Cause I want to visit you. But I'm sorry, no can do, 
in a minefield . . . dodging piles of poo.

Before you go, click on these links to more poetry by some of my friends: 

Dawn of Cognitive Script shares Udder Appreciation

Diane of On the Border shares Ode to the Purple.

Lydia of Cluttered Genius shares Thanks, Cows.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Berry Cobbler         

2 # strawberries, cleaned, dried, hulled, sliced
6 oz raspberries, cleaned and dried
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
15 oreos
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg 
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP orange juice
1 stick butter, melted 

OPT: Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8 X 8 baking dish. Layer the bottom rack of your oven with tin foil as this may bubble over while baking.
*In a food processor, grind the oreos to crumbs.
*Mix together the strawberries, raspberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and 3/4 cup of the oreo crumbs. Spread into the prepared baking dish.
*Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and remaining oreo crumbs. Mix in the egg, vanilla, orange juice and half of the melted butter.
*Dot the dough over the berries and pat down gently. Drizzle with the remaining melted butter.
*Bake in the center of the oven, above the rack with tin foil, for 35 to 40 minutes until top is browned and berries are bubbly.
*Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.