Monday, September 7, 2009

Favorite Lunch

I love summer foods! The photo above demonstrates what has become my favorite lunch lately, and going to my local "Farmers Market" my favorite Saturday morning activity of late. Lest you think the color a little 'off' on these tomatoes, it is an orange tomato. I have not yet met a fresh tomato I didn't like. I'm completely off of grocery store tomatoes right now. I don't quite understand why they don't use local tomatoes when available, but they are still carrying the same flavorless tomatoes they carry all year long... don't get me wrong..come December I'm thrilled they have tomatoes at all and I buy them, but now there are local ones - why aren't they selling them? They really taste better!!

Also, at my Farmers Market is this fantastic bread from a bakery not conveniently located to me. Besides their retail, they sell to local restaurants -those which don't do their own baking, so I've sampled their wares previously. But this summer is my first opportunity to buy their bread by the loaf and have it around the house... dangerous.

Side note about bread if you are following my 'eating plan etc' and my weight loss: I feel about bread the same way I do about brownies... which is - (here lies the official credo, get ready) "If it's not the very best, and fabulous, why bother? It's not worth it!" Or something similar. The wording is a little loose for an official credo, I do admit. So this bread is up there with excellent, but still I only use in small portions and note the sandwich is 'open face' so as to not overdo it. Also, note this is prepared on a salad size plate, not a dinner size plate. If I use a large plate, I'll fill it.

Oh, you want the name of the bakery? Only helps if you are local, but it is 'Shadeau Breads.' They are at 1336 Main St in downtown Cincinnati. On Saturdays they often have a line out the door waiting to get their breads and pastries. During the week things are a little more leisurely and you can enjoy a slice of foccacia or some homemade soup also. They close at 4 pm...

Isn't it cute?

Anyway, back to the favorite lunch which was the impetus of this posting, a slice or two of excellent bread, a drizzle of excellent olive oil and some fresh ground pepper, the tomato slices-fresh tomatoes!, some crumbled goats cheese - I buy the little log of it and then I crumble it- it tastes better, fresh basil (from my garden! I actually grew something!), another drizzle of olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of kosher salt, little more pepper. By the way, health tip, the health value of a tomato is increased greatly by the drizzle of olive oil on it, seriously. The lycopene in the tomato is already great for you, but the olive oil increases the antioxidant absorption by your body! Double Bonus, congratulations!

Heaven will surely have lunches like this, right?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake -Texas Sheet Cake

(Photo courtesy of Cathy Dean)

We just came off the terrific Beth Moore simulcast. Beth talked about 'The Desires of Our Heart' from Psalm 37. Desires not being Chocolate cake! But she talked about how much her Grandchild loves her chocolate cake which she is known for within her family. Apparently Texas Sheet Cake is well known in Texas, (Duh!) it is well known to my friend, Debbie Ruehlman, who was up early Saturday morning of the 2nd day of the retreat and whipped up a recipe of it. Debbie was kind enough to share the cake, but also this recipe with her notes in parenthesis!

I regret not getting a photo of the cake before it was devoured, so instead the above is a photo of (most) of my great Team who worked tirelessly to make the event a terrific success at AHUMC. It also went on at 515 other churches in 46 states and in 7 countries! 95,000 women participated in the simulcast in addition to those present at the Live event in Green Bay, WI!

Beth's Texas Sheet Cake (from Beth Moore's internet blog)

Here's the recipe from the simulcast, and also my notes for the cake I brought on Saturday. I've had this recipe since the 1970's, given to me by my best friend's mother, Anna Mae Paul.

Texas Sheet Cake

Grease a 9 x 13 sheet cake pan. (My recipe calls for a jelly roll pan, basically a cookie sheet with sides. More people can sample it too.)

Sift: (I didn't bother to sift)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar

Bring to a boil:
2 sticks butter (real butter please, not margarine)
1 cup water
4 tbsp. cocoa

Pour over dry mixture and mix in: (I did the opposite, added the dry ingred. to the pan of boiled stuff. I don’t like to wash messy pans and one was enough.)
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (who has buttermilk around at 6:30 am?!?! The substitute is 1 Tb vinegar per 1 cup milk)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon (my recipe omits this, but I've had it both ways.)
1 tsp. vanilla (or more, you can never have too much vanilla)

Bake at 400 degrees, 20-25 minutes. (for jelly roll pan, 350 degrees for 20 minutes or less, watch it.)

Make the Icing while the cake bakes.
Heat: (bring this all to a boil and take off the heat, then add the pwd. sugar)
1 stick butter
4 tbsp. cocoa
6 tbsp. milk

Add anywhere from 1/2 to 1 box of powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency (Beth prefers close to 1 box) (I used 4 cups which is a normal box)

and 1 cup pecans. (all I had were almonds, also good with walnuts. Throw a little coconut in there and it’s heavenly!)

Spread on cake while it's hot.

Debra Chisolm Ruehlman

Since a few of the team were missing in that top photo they are included in this other photo of my Hospitality team below:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I haven't posted in a while so here is just something for fun.

This is a photo of my new favorite flower. I didn't even know what these were. My sister Sue tells me they are 'Coneflowers.' Now I see them everywhere I turn. I took this photo with my CELL PHONE one day while Dick and I were out on our walk.

This photo has not been edited, except I cropped it slightly. I haven't even adjusted for brightness. I think that's pretty good. I love this pic, so much it's my computer background right now as well as my cell phone screen background....

You may enlarge it by clicking on it. You can make it your desktop by right clicking on it and selecting 'save photo as' or 'set as background.' That's if you have a PC. If you have a MAC, I'm sure you know how to save a photo on a MAC.

I give permission to use my photos for your personal pleasure and enjoyment and any NON-commercial use. Not to be used in any publication. Thanks. BLE

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fine Art Friday

Wow! Truly Remarkable. This is 7 minutes long and you will enjoy all of it. Go get a cup of coffee or BOYC (Beverage of Your Choice) and enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Asparagus by Request

The Best Rendition of Asparagus I've had in a while!

This is not my recipe. I had this lovely dish on Father's Day at Susan's home. Our son-in-law, Chuck's, beautiful daughter Christy, is a true Italian, and cooks like one! This is just one of her great dishes.

She was kind enough to share this recipe with me. The recipe, as given by Christy, calls for steaming the asparagus prior to prep. But as you already know I prefer all my vegeatables GRILLED when possible. When not possible to grill, let's oven roast them. I'd say a secret to success in this recipe is to not overcook them, however you choose to proceed is up to you!

This photo, and this recipe was prepared by yours truly, for the occasion of the previously documented Lobsterfest. My sister Terry requested this recipe, and so here it is.

Since this photo, I have served this dish other occasions and have put cherry tomatoes around the edge of the platter for an even more festive touch!! I put the cherry tomatoes in a plastic bag with just a touch of olive oil to let them get coated first, then put around the tray. I wanted to save the dressing of this recipe for the asparagus, but didn't want the tomatoes to be dry!

Quantities are also tricky in this recipe. It's all 'eyeballing.' We agreed really big asparagus would not be good. Christy had 4 medium to slim asparagus in each bundle so that is how I did it.

To feed a crowd I purchased three bunches of fresh asparagus, medium toward thinish.
One log of goat cheese, the larger size. I did not quite use all of it, about 3/4 for the two bunches.
Fresh chives. (I had them in my herb garden - thanks again, Marge) If you don't have them on hand, it's almost not worth buying a bunch for, you use such a tiny amount. How about a sprinkling of dried onion flakes?
1 lb of the best Proscuitto Ham available, no substitutes, sliced thinly. I trimmed any excess fat as I went, though from the photo it doesn't look like it.
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar (Christy uses Red Wine vinegar, you choose)
Pepper (fresh ground, always)

Process is simple:
Snap off any tough ends of asparagus and prepare according to your choice, as discussed above. Do not overcook. Allow to cool. I use a small amount of olive oil on them in cooking on the grill. No other seasoning is needed. (Proscuitto and the dressing we make will take care of that)

Mix some chives and some pepper into the slightly softened goat cheese and dab a small amount onto your four, cooled, asparagus which you have laid adjacent to one another like a raft. Lay that dab about mid raft. (Dab=approx 1/2 teaspoon size?)

Take your proscuitto* and carefully wrap your asparagus at the level of the goat cheese all the way around so it is completely covered and wrapped thoroughly. There is NO NEED to secure the proscuitto with a pick or anything. It will adhere to itself, just wrap it securely and tuck in any stray ends. Be sure no cheese is extruding.

If my asparagus are not the same length I trim them with a sharp paring knife at this point to make them look uniform, then lay in serving tray or storage container and move on to next until all asparagus, goat, and ham are used up!!

*A note about the proscuitto, if you haven't worked with it before. Usually the slices are oblong with a thin line of fat running horizonitally across the center. I pull that little piece of fat out and I let that spot be my dividing line, to cut each slice in half. So I have two long slices from each slice of ham. These are perfect size for wrapping around the asparagus rafts.

The only thing left is the dressing. I wait to put the dressing on until right before serving. By the way, serve the asparagus at room temperature. If you've made it ahead of time, pull out of frig at least an hour prior.

The dressing is equal parts vinegar (red wine or balsamic) and good olive oil with a grind of fresh pepper, mixed together, prior to drizzling over the asparagus. I have one of those nifty Pampered Chef salad dresssing mixer containers, but a good old whisk will do the job. Even for a fairly large number of asparagus bundles you probably only need about a half cup, in total, of dressing. A little goes a long way, as they say!

Here's the info on my nifty Pampered Chef thingy:
Kitchenware: Measure, Mix, & Pour™
#2265 $11.50
Helps you quickly prepare homemade salad dressings and beverages. Four salad dressing recipes printed on container

Enjoy! Wrap up and save leftovers! This stuff is even good for breakfast... chop them up and put them in some eggs... seriously.

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sing it Paul!

Just for today: My new favorite color is PINK!!
Have to post this! Some of you know I'm no longer a Letterman fan and do not watch his show.
But I can watch pertinent clips on YouTube the next day, right?

Editors note:
Correction one - the aforementioned video is no longer from the Letterman show, they pulled all copies. But if you do get a chance to see it with Paul and band performing atop the marquee, do.
Correction two - my favorite color of the day is now - red.

Oh, this was my second post today, don't miss that one below:

Pasta Primer Principles!

I Love Pasta Salads!!

Pasta Principles
(Recipe Below)

Now don't take this the wrong way, but I usually love mine best! Oops, I did it again. Sorry, but some people aren't keyed into the "Pasta Primer Principles."
And mainly that's cause I'm just writing them down right now for the first time, but here we go....

Principle #1 - Cook those vegetables... or grill them, or blanch, or steam… But to bite into a raw, very crunchy, chewy, or hard vegetable, well it's just too much hard work. This is a picnic or a side dish, it's supposed to be easy. Let's make it easy to eat. So whether it’s a red or yellow pepper, or onions, or broccoli --Let's get them heated up, and cooled down, to soften them up before adding them to our pasta. I love, love, love grilled vegetables in my pasta. But don't overdo-it either. Grill, steam, or blanch to al dente. Save some bite for the pasta.

Principle #2 - Hold the mayo... It's fatting. It's dangerous at outdoor events, and it’s too heavy of a taste. (I know I'm going to get sued.) This is all just my opinion. Pretend I'm writing 'in my opinion' at the beginning of every sentence so 'Best Foods' doesn't come after me, please. As a sauce for your pasta I recommend using olive oil and an acidity of your choice. 'Acidity' can be a flavored vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, salsa... I don't suggest balsamic vinegar (which is normally my fav. for everything), it will discolor your pasta and is too heavy of a flavor. But make the ratio of oil to acidity lean much more heavily to the oil. It will be a softer flavor!

Principle #3 - I use whole wheat pasta. When I say 'whole wheat' I actually mean the kind where it says made with '100% whole wheat.' Not 'whole wheat blend' or any of those tricky things they are doing these days to make it look like you are getting whole wheat. In my local grocery for the type of pasta shape I wanted to use, in the 'alleged' whole wheat variety there were 6 choices. Only one (1) was actually 100% whole wheat, non-enriched flour, pasta, and it was the store brand pasta. Which is just great with me, to save myself reading all those labels again, I bought several boxes. I know I'm going to be making pasta salad a few more times over the summer.

Principle #4 - It's always better with cheese. Usually that's a soft cheese. I like goat, but feta is good. Many others work also. I'd keep it a soft crumbled or cubed cheese. Some of those come ‘seasoned’ and I'm not opposed to those. ‘Feta with herbs,’ etc. It's a great way to add flavor to the pasta.

Principle #5 - Do not overcook your pasta, and be sure it stops cooking when you think it does. I cook it till the minimum amount of time allotted on the box. It's really important to shock it with lots of cold water to stop the cooking process. Really! I feel all the way through the pasta to make certain it is all cold to the touch and there is no warmth left at all. Seriously, if the pasta gets wimpy now, the rest of the salad is going to be sad, sad, sad. Then I kinda pat the pasta dry and put it in a larger temporary bowl (meaning a bowl other than the serving bowl) for mixing.
*Edit - My husband says I have to explain this - well at least I know he reads this, right? To 'pat the pasta dry' yes, I use very clean paper towels, sometimes several. But I buy the most reputable of paper towel brands (Brawny) and am assured of their purity and lack of shredding for this purpose! Alternately, one could use clean, dry, absorbent dish towels and achieve the same result. Which is, I want DRY pasta for this step:

Next step is to add the olive oil. I do that and mix it well before adding any of the other ingredients. I also salt and pepper at this juncture, this way you know you are seasoning your pasta well, before the rest of the assembly gets in there. Don’t overdo the rest of the ingredients, I like to keep it simple. Here is my current favorite pasta recipe.
I promised my friend Amy, I’d post it:

Betsy’s Favorite Pasta Salad
1 box (12 oz) 100% Whole Wheat Pasta – Rotini
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, chopped
1 small can chopped black olives, drained. (Omit if my sister Kathy is there)
1 jar roasted Red Peppers, drained and chopped
Handful fresh basil
Olive oil
Lemon Juice
Salt (I use coarse kosher salt, always)
Pepper (I use freshly ground)
Crumbled Goat Cheese, about 9 oz.
Cook pasta to al dente and shock it so it stops cooking. Drain well and pat dry. Coat with olive oil, season with S&P, sprinkle generously with lemon juice. Stir. Adding remaining ingredients except basil , and stir. Check for seasonings. Adjust as needed. If you will be serving in the next few hours, add basil. If making ahead, wait to add the basil until an hour or two prior to serving. Take out of refrigeration an hour before serving, stir and possibly add more olive oil, noodles tend to absorb oils as they rest.
I add cooked chicken, tuna, or salmon to this for a great lunch also!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

21 Years!

The Bread Basket at Nicola's in Cincinnati

Is this the best bread basket in town? I say YES!

Dick and I went to dinner Thursday night to celebrate 21 years of marriage! Nicola's was the obvious choice having had such a fantastic meal there in May for my birthday. Could it live up to that memory? Sometimes restaurants are never quite as good the second time around... never fear. It was every bit as good, and better. And isn't that the best bread basket?

Also we got a little bit of a floor show. The restaurant had prepared a 'salt-encrust Char.' This was ordered by diners at another table, but we were front and center for the grand presentation. They brought the still encased (we're talking at least 2" of hardpacked salt) whole fish, which they flambed and carried around the dining room. It smelled heavenly! Then with a chisel and pick, Nick proceeded to disrobe the Char from it's casing. Wow! It was steaming and fragrant and looked beautiful. (The diners who ordered it kept on talking and paid no attention at all to the work or fanfare on their behalf, but did seem to enjoy the Char.)

Our dinner was equally as delicious and we had the same gracious (and adorable) server we had for my birthday, and had a very nice time. We each had the 4 course tasting menu because we couldn't decide what to have and this way had some of just about everything. No regrets!!

Happy Anniversary Dick, it doesn't seem like 21 years, but I'm so happy to have spent them with you! It has not been 'cartoonish,' but I couldn't resist posting this cartoon-style photo of Dick and Eliot, because I love the effect. (Sorry for the bad pun)


Thursday, July 9, 2009


Happy 4th of July!! Oops! Am I late? Did I miss it? No, I really didn't. It was rainy here on the 4th anyway. So we really celebrated the 4th on the 3rd and the 5th, just to be really confusing. On the 3rd, Eliot was home from his job working at a summer camp. So we grilled out some shrimp and went to watch a great local fireworks display at Old Coney. Eliot had to be back to work when our larger family convened for Lobsterfest...

On the 5th we had our Annual Lobsterfest at my sister Terry's house! This is hosted by my sister and brother-in-law and generously sponsored by our Aunt Elaine, who's birthday we also celebrated that day! Our cousins from Indianapolis and California were also in town for their Mother's birthday and of course, for Lobsterfest!

My brother-in-law, Bob, has the grilling the lobsters thing down to a science now. As you might be able to tell these were tails only. One year we did whole lobsters and did them in turkey fryers. That worked pretty well, but it just happened to be your more typical July weather, and it took a lot longer to get the water boiling in the turkey fryers etc. and well, everyone was boiling by the time the water was ready. This method is better. Also, we had steaks for those who just aren't of the lobster inclination. (not that I get that..) And, of course the usual accompaniments of beautiful summer salads and side dishes. I love those too.

As good of a crowd as this is, this is about half of our family. Even some who are usually here, were away and now some live out of town. The beautiful Shelby, front row - white shirt, is the lone representation of that generation, at this event. Though Ryan, our nephew-in-law, stopped by to eat and get some lobsterfest-to-go to take to Emily at the hospital! Their daughter, the next gen, Susanna, was in the hospital for a mysterious infection. She is fine now. Shelby's other sister Steph, and her family would normally be here, but they were all visiting her husband's family in Poland. Brian lives in town, but was away for a wedding. The remaining cousins all live out of town. Ashley and Sara in L.A. and Zach in New York. I already said Eliot was back working at camp, missed the good stuff.

I'm going to just post this since I have other posts already swimming around in my brain waiting for their turn.

Happy Independence Day!

Here's the whole group except myself and my Aunt:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael

One of my favorites, great 'moonwalking!':

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Say What?

Really? I mean did you see that? If this stupid thing had arrows on it, I’d point up there and show you what I mean. But look up there at the top under the name and it says what this whole blog thing is suppoooosed to be about… and right there it actually is written ‘And really cute photos of our dog, Bailey!’ Hello!!!

Sure! I mean really, when was the last time you even saw a picture of me on here? It was something like March or something. And that’s only because I’m supposed to be Irish and I got to write the St Paddy’s Day message. Otherwise you wouldn’t even have seen me then. I’m telling you guys (and ladies, I don’t mean to leave anyone out) you are NOT getting your money’s worth here. I mean I literally just had to take over this ding dang thing to get in here tonight and write this.

And what is up with my Bro’ Eliot? I mean he is gone all year in that big city, my parents make a big deal when he comes home and are all excited, and now he isn’t here again!! What is that about? (Well, don’t tell him but I was kinda excited when he was home too, but I don’t want him to know or he’ll act like the big cheese even more.) He’s at this camp, some sort of counselor or something, and comes home on weekends. Like just the time I get used to being ‘top dog’ he comes round and knocks me off the pedestal. It’s just too much! And he won’t let me sleep when he comes home. Talk about annoying. I’ll be taking one of my 10 beauty naps per day and in comes the Bro’ sneaking up on me, scooping me up like I’m some sort of-----don’t make me say it--- some sort of c-a-t, or something! How humiliating, how rude is that? How am I supposed to get my rest? I just don’t get it. And then I lick him for about an hour. It makes for very very busy days when he is here. You can see how the pace can just be unbearable.

And then my Mom is such a nut. When Eliot isn’t here, she plays his music! What? I thought he was home, I hear these tunes, they’re good, and it was just Mom, she said it makes her think of him. That is just so gross! Like when I’m not home, maybe they play Alpo commercials or something! Hey, I wonder if they do? I know, I’ll have to get Lucy (a.k.a.- Great White Death) from next door to come over and listen in next time I'm at the Groomies! Maybe Mom does listen to Alpo songs or something so she doesn’t miss me…. Yep, I bet she does. I know she loves me just as much……………hmmm.
All of a sudden I’m tired.

Now, when does that Eliot get home again? How many days? I think I’ll just wait right here and watch for him.

Well nice talking to ya. Who knows when you'll get to see me next?

Love to ya all,

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my Dad!!

He taught me (us - my sisters, too) many lessons.

He was a 'take charge' guy. Never one to blame others for his circumstances or difficulties. If he had any of those, that is, it would be hard to know, as he was not a complainer. He was a 'whistle while you work' kind of guy. I really liked that he walked around the house, or the yard, boat, or wherever, whistling a song while he worked on whatever project he decided to pursue that day. We also learned all the old songs that way. I knew the names and composers of all the 'Big Band' and Swing hits when some of my friends had never even heard of Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey. He was an Engineer at heart and an Engineer, in fact! He put himself through night school after he came home from World War II. He was great with his hands and always had a project he was working on and he whistled his way through every one of them.

He taught us about camping, boating, and river navigation. When we bought a houseboat as a family he took a Coast Guard water safety course and made sure we knew all the navigational and safety factors in boating. And he made no secret it bugged him a lot that 'any fool with a few extra $$ could buy a boat and plunk it in the middle of the Ohio River without any thought to learning or observing the basic rules of water safety and etiquette.' (I didn't say he was a diplomat) He often told those same folks what was on his mind as they passed too closely in front of our boat or if we met up with them in a marina or gas dock. He was intimidated by nobody and nothing! Sometimes it was pretty interesting.

So if any of my friends noticed any 'outspokeness' in me, or in any of my sisters, we may have come by this trait naturally. 'Wallflower' was not his favorite word or something he was trying to teach. Actually, he could be quite diplomatic when it was called for in a situation. He just decided when it was called for and when it was not! Those boating situations, I guess he didn't feel required that diplomacy. Despite those moments of exteme honesty when he encountered 'fools' on the river, he made lots of friends everywhere he went and had lots of fun.

A terrific and steadfast Dad, who raised us well, and was always proud of his family!

Happy Father's Day!


P.S. - He was a great dancer! Apparently this ability skipped a generation.

I'm surprised by the lack of comment by my sisters! This photo was taken on the occasion of the 'undercooked turkey!' Such a memorable holiday!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Warning - potential boredom alert! If you've never needed to lose weight, particularly never more than 15 lbs, this topic may hold very little interest for you. Please visit another time. Thanks!
~~ Sustainability ~~

What do you think when you hear the word? Does it put you to sleep at the sound of it? Or do you, like me, know it can save your life? Up and down, Off and on, new and interesting, may be more exciting and might give one more to talk about at lunch... but it does not really, reallllly provide for a consistant way to reduce weight (note the lack of the 4 letter word) and keep that weight reduced. Really. So decide, do you want drama? Something to talk/complain about? Or do you want to just deal with the problem?

I knew when I choose what plan I would utilize for how to lose weight it had to be, HAD TO BE, something which could be sustained, even at the risk of being less glamorous. It needed to be a plan which would work when I traveled, ate in restaurants, changed my plans at the last minute, was too tired to cook, wanted to make a gourmet meal, was cooking for the family or dining alone. You get the idea, it had to work in all the variables of life and in all the times which previously could have foiled a girl (or guy) trying to follow a specific eating plan. (Again, we save use of the word 'diet' for times such as referencing what alligators consume in their natural habitat. As in, "...subsist on a di+t of tourists and gym shoes..." ) But I digress...

I am not a fan of any plan which systematically eliminates any food group or color of food. According to people who are smarter than me all the food groups provide a function in our bodies and are needed for nutrition - here is the important part - some are needed more than others, some in greater quantities and some in far lesser quantities than others. The secret might be in the previous sentence. Therefore no 'all protein' plans, or no 'all carb' plans, or all grapefruit one day and watermelon the next. Also, and here is a biggie but it fits in the first catagory, it must be real food, not purchased from any special entity other than a good old grocery store. (be able to travel, eat in restaurants, change my plans...)

So one day, my friend Marge says to me, (thanks Marge) someone named Dr. Oz is on Oprah and he is talking about the liver!! I turned on that show, Amen! He not only was talking about the liver, he was holding up a (cadaver) organ which most of you have probably never heard of called the omentum. But I knew of it right away and I knew this was destiny! The omentum is the organ which hangs loose from below your stomach and traps fat after food is digested and it is gross!!!! It also effects how much fat spills into your liver. Long story about why the omentum is important to me, but before I was a Mary Kay Sales Director, I was an xray technologist and if you want to get stomach xrays correctly, you better know about the anatomy of the omentum. I did know, and I felt like Dr. Oz was talking to me that day.

After he showed the omentum and how it spills fat into the liver. (I kinda do hope this grosses you out) he proceeded to talk about healthy eating and a book in which he layed it all out, "YOU on a Diet" Sorry, Dr. Oz doesn't have the same compunction about using that four letter word. The content is great, if not the title.

Basic idea is reduce your waist size and eat healthful real foods. And to start moving your body, as in exercise! More on that in a second. He uses the 4 letter word in his title but clearly agrees with me about the harm that '@ieting' does. It's an 'all or nothing' attitude. The carrots or the filet. Success or failure. Up or down. And the whole time thinking about food. Also, it makes food the enemy. (last sentence is not from Oz, but me)Food is not the enemy, our (mis)use of food is the problem. Food, like money, is an inanimate object. It's up to us if we let it get the best of us. But back to Dr. Oz.

His reccommendations, which I've embraced wholeheartedly because they make sense:
Do not eat anything fake. As in, eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup from your diet. HFCS is a manufactured product made from corn but far removed chemically from what real corn is. There is a link to an article concerning the harm of HFCS on the front page of my site (Mercola) and Dr Oz addresses this topic well in numerous columns and publications. Two mains points about HFCS are it doesn't turn off the receptor in your brain which tells you when you are full, so you keep eating. And, it has lead to an overall increase in Type II diabetes in this country since it's widespread use in products too numerous to name in this blog. Check your bread, catsup, salad dressing, and of course, those soft drinks.

Eat nothing which has sugar or salt or any of the 'banned items' in the first 5 ingredients on the label:
Banned items: Get rid of partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, HFCS, enriched or bleached flour, all added sugars, limit alcohol consumption to no more than 1 alcohol beverage per day. (Oh Bye, I just lost 3 dozen people)
Do eat 100% whole grains, lean meats and proteins, vegetables and fruits, dairy and low fat milk.

Of course when I read the 'do eat' column it seemed sort of boring and scary and limiting and I'd just built this new house, with this really pretty kitchen, designed so the whole family could cook together. Would we ever cook together again? Or would I be reduced to low sodium pablum, while the rest of the world spins by? No, actually by this time, I was over that feeling. Dr. Oz, made me feel like I could do it, and I already knew there were delicious foods out there which didn't have to be processed, high fat, high sodium... you get the idea. There are great things to cook with real food which tastes much better and is much better for your overall health and that of your family than anything that is already prepared and boxed in the grocery. (But which I had come to rely on on busy nights when the family was going in different directions)

Dr Oz's book also gives recipes and suggestions for emergency hungries. I keep a dish on my counter with raw almonds and cranberries in it. This really fills me up and helps me to not reach for other, much worse for me snacks, while I'm fixing dinner. Here's another tip if you think you are going to snack or graze while somewhere, put a Listerine breath strip in your mouth. You won't be able to eat a thing, it will clash with the minty breath strip. I use two for the overall too powerful minty approach, it works!

I eat very few things marked 'low fat' because the fat has usually been replaced with fillers, chemicals or even HFCS. So I'd rather eat less of the real thing than more of a 'mystery' item. One exception is I do purchase and love 'Fat free Feta cheese,' crumbled, I sprinkle this on my salads for a lot of extra flavor. I do not recommend trying to cook with it or trying to melt it on anything, it won't work.
Also, I purchase very few items which even have labels anymore. Most of my shopping occurs around the perimeter of the store with the exception of Tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Dr. Oz recommends 10 T. of tomato sauce per week for heart health. Read labels carefully, HFCS can hide in your tomato sauce too, sometimes different varieties within the same brand can have very different ingredients.

This is just a quick overview of the suggestions in the book. The thing which helped me the most overall is that when I didn't know what to do or where to start ~~ I started walking. It really helps I have a husband who is a dedicated partner, he walks with me and encouraged me, esp. in the beginning when I couldn't walk all that far. But whether you do, or whether you don't, have someone to walk with, walking is something almost everyone can do! And while I recommend wearing supportive walking shoes, walking is excellent because no special equipment is required!

So while your 'thinking about' getting started on Dr Oz's plan, or giving me a call for more information, take a walk - it can only help!

Betsy5aLive Why?

I thought this was a pretty photo which didn’t get included from a previous blog entry.

Edited: 6/26/09

Why ‘Betsy5aLive?’It's a funny name for a blog.
Thanks for asking. I’ve been meaning to answer that question and think it’s time to do so before it changes.
Changes? Why is it changing? Some of us here in the blogosphere are resistant to change….
Well not you, I’m sure, but the reasons for the change will have to be saved for a future ‘post.’ Suffice it to say the name and location of my blog will be new in the coming days or weeks. Hopefully, the transition will be seamless and you won’t even feel the change, but will only notice the increased beauty and style!!! (She said hopefully…)

So, what’s in a name? A lot. In fact, I believe words have power, obviously, and I try not to use words for, or put power to, something to which I do not wish to give power. I’ll explain that in a sec.

The first part of my blog name is easy. It is my name, Betsy. Although, unfortunately, not as easy as one would think. Apparently, there is a segment of the population who has difficulty sounding out names and therefore incorrectly spells Betsy. Really. We are not talking about a variation of Betsy, such as an ‘ie’ ending, as in Betsie. Or as one friend, until set straight spelled my name, Betzy. No, we are talking about putting the ‘s’ before the ‘t.’ As in Besty. Therefore they can’t find my website, hmmm. No further comment.

The ‘5’ represents the number equivalent of the first letter of my last name. My last name starts with ‘E’ the 5th letter of the alphabet. Previously, I had a personalized license plate ‘’Betsy5,” not because I was the 5th Betsy in Ohio to seek personalized plates but for the aforementioned reason.

But the more important topic: aLive! aLive as in not dead. (Sorry I don’t intend to be morbid). aLive as in living life ‘one day at a time’ but living, not *d*i*e*t*i*n*g* which you might notice has the word DIE buried in it. (The buried pun is intended) More on that in a sec. And aLive as in LIVE(r) liver, liver, liver, my liver isn’t getting me. I’m alive, I’m not just my liver and whatever diseases it may, and does, hold. I’m more than that and I’m bigger than that disease, metaphorically speaking.

So back to the “not *d*i*e*t*i*n*g*” and the power of words and what we tell ourselves. This is actually the blog post I intended this blog to be about originally: What happened when I learned about my liver disease and how I lived through it, with the thought that if it might help even one person get through anything similar, I’d be gratified for having shared and helped.

So I believe we act on what we tell ourselves. Good and bad. This is why children who grow up in non nurturing environments have deficits of personality. They’ve not been developed and have been given messages of lack, etc. (a different blog post.)

(Note to reader: if not in the position of needing to lose more than 15 pounds you may stop reading now. Have a nice day! Bye Bye)

But speaking of lack, that is the approach of a …. I’m going to say it the 4 letter word that I don’t want any of my posts to be about… diet. See the die. It’s about self imposed denial of something (perceived to be) good. And what we deny ourselves we end up...what? You got it, wanting it more! And here is an insight into me: please do not deny me anything. Okay? Don’t tell me I can’t have that, can’t go there, can’t eat that, am not invited. You can call that spoiled, vain, self-centered, youngest child syndrome, or analyze that anyway you want to. But the fact will remain, that if ‘I’m on a die& ,’ and told I can’t…..---I WILL, I just will, I've proven this. And I’m not alone.

I’ve proven this theory for more decades than I care to name. And if you care to look around you at all the people you know who are ‘*ieting” have “&ieted” are “professional 8ieters” and look at all the businesses which are associated with this industry, you will see it is an ongoing, but largely unsuccessful entity. (But profitable for purveyors of..) Oh, I’ve lost weight on *iets, I bet you may have too. That is not the measure of a *iet, the true measure is how much is gained back 30 days after it’s over, then 60, and 90 days, then the results can be meaningful. (By the way there really is a reason I’m not using the word, in addition to the fact I don’t like it. So bear with me.)

So, now let’s address all those of you who are saying, "what is wrong with you, have you no self control?" "What do you mean? You can’t be told ‘no.'" Well, right. It has to come from me. It has to be a plan of my making, my choice. These might be just semantics, but they are some very important ones, because as I said, words have meaning and power. If you tell me I can’t have it, I will feel deprived and WILL make up for it. If it's an eating plan I've chosen, to eat to LIVE, IF I DECIDE that for my health and well being, I chose differently, I’m okay with not having….. whatever it is. I also say (borrowed from AA...) 'Just for today' I'm not eating chocolate brownies. Maybe tomorrow I'll chose differently. (probably not, I still don't want to die of liver disease tomorrow. Oh, you can substitute heart disease, if you can't relate to the liver disease thing. But have your liver enzymes checked if your interested enough to still be reading this). But just for today, no chocolate brownies. If I said never ever in my life again will I eat a chocolate brownie, that might be a little extreme. Because truthfully, I've had a choc. brownie since all this started. But here is another secret. I wouldn't stoop to eat just any choc. brownie out of convenience, frustration, boredom,...... you name it. I won't stoop to that. IF I'm going to do it.... I've got the brownie picked out. And I've had it. It HAS TO BE one from Bonbonerie bakery in Cincinnati on Madison Rd. There really isn't any other brownie worthy of my time. Do you get it? If I'm going to veer from 'the plan,' it's a 'controlled situation' of my choosing, not by circumstances or outside factors. And certainly not by unworthy brownies!

How did I get here? Discussing semantics of weight loss? Almost three years ago, a Dr. who happened to be much more overweight than I was at the time, but a well regarded specialist in liver disease,told me I had (and still have) end-stage liver disease. The only way to reduce pressure on my liver is to lose weight. A lot of weight. Of course he had few, if any, suggestions as to technique. And he was telling me to do what I had so far not been successful at yet in my entire adult life. I’d been successful previously in other arenas. I knew how to make a goal and reach it. I’d become a Sales Director in Mary Kay cosmetics (top 2% of company) and earned two Pink Cadillacs (top 1% of company), I knew how to reach a goal. But not one so personal as weight loss and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not personal.

It’s not just numbers. The reason we eat, what we eat, when we eat, who we eat with. It’s all personal and the habits are all formed for personal reasons. The sooner we acknowledge the personal, and many times emotional, nature of our eating habits, then we can work to debunk those which have served us poorly in our past. You know the ones of which I speak.

This blog entry is about to become too long, I pledge to make a next step series to tell you what I did next to make my plan, which did not include *ietin&, but did include losing and keeping off 86#. Okay? I know the front of this website says 88#, I have to fix that, it’s really 86, sorry.

Oh, that last part of the web address. Blogspot. It’s the reason for the season. The season of change, that is, you can also call it 'leaving Blogspot." The new address, well I don’t want to tell you till it’s as pretty as it wants to be, but coming soon…

This photo is unrelated but speaks loudly, don’t you think?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tomatoes & Potatoes!

But not in the same recipe!

Tomatoes & Potatoes
Don't you love this photo? Will it gross you out if I tell you I think they look like little eyeballs? But they are so cute! Actually, I'm not even going to give you a recipe for this. I'm going to give you 'assembly' instructions. Ingredients are Cherry Tomatoes, shredded cheese mix - 4 cheese or Italian cheese mix variety, fresh herbs - fennel and/or basil, S&P, capers - important- do not omit capers.

Slice off top of cherry tomatoes. Using a sharp knife, or I use a serrated grapefruit spoon, scoop out the inside of the tomato, leaving shell intact. Add the fresh herbs and S&P to the cheese (to taste) and working over the cheese bowl, stuff the tomatoes with the mixture. It is important that you push as much of the mixture into the tomato as possible. If not, there will be little dents when they are baked. So make certain they are well packed. And then the Caper as the finishing touch is a ‘must!’

I’m learning many people have aversions or are apathetic to capers or thought they were, but are pleased when they bite into this combination of tomato, cheese, fresh herb, and just right saltiness from the caper. So having said that, let me remind you to go very light with the ‘S& P to taste’ instruction above so the other flavors come through. While I’m making my editorial comments, I’ll also say I’ve had more people who original thought they didn’t even care for tomatoes, really, really enjoy this nice light appetizer. (Except my nephew Brian who took a long time to get through one little tiny cherry tomato. But thanks for trying it anyway, Brian) Oh, to finish the recipe: after adding the caper, place in an oven proof baking dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees until cheese is thoroughly melted! Serve and enjoy.

Now on to Potatoes, because I promised my friend Terri I would post this recipe. I really don’t use exact measurements for this, but I’m going to try to put some numbers with this. Just know you can adjust these to your taste.

Gorgonzola Potatoes
Preheat oven to 375.
New, red potatoes. I buy them in the small netted bag. (about 2.5 lbs)
½ stick butter
2 T. Olive oil
2 T Dry Mustard (I particularly like Coleman’s brand dry mustard and use it for lots of recipes. It’s in a distinctive yellow tin can.)
½ C Parmesan cheese ( I use that grated stuff by Kraft in a plastic jar for this one, but the real thing would be great too.)
S&P to taste
6 oz. Gorgonzola Cheese – crumbled
Wash and halve the potatoes. (If making ahead of time, I keep in a water bath with some lemon juice to keep the potatoes from turning brown. Be sure to dry off well before resuming with recipe.) If any pieces are particularly larger than others, cut in half again, so even pieces result.
Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and stir until well coated. Season with S & P. Turn into a rectangular bake-ware dish large enough that the potatoes are mostly in a single layer. Mix half the parmesan and all the mustard into the melted butter and drizzle over potatoes, it won’t cover each and every potato, that’s okay. Sprinkle remaining parmesan on potatoes. Sprinkle crumbled gorgonzola over top.
Place in oven and bake 35 minutes, turning once about half way through. Sometimes I broil them at the end of the cooking time to get a crusty edge on the cheese….. yum.

Eliot is particularly fond of this dish, too. If you have a seasoning at home called 'Lemon Pepper Marinade'-it's a dry seasoning in the spice aisle, this is also good sprinkled on prior to baking.

That's all I've got today, it's the recipe edition of Betsy's blog. Enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday!!

And so another year goes by!! And people I love helped me to recognize the occasion. Girlfriends took me to lunch and feted me with gifts and flowers, others dinner too. Dick and Eliot took me to dinner over the weekend. And the rest of my family got together on another occasion for a big family get together which included recognizing my day. Happy Birthday to me! It's fun to celebrate life!
Here is my favorite rendition of the Birthday song, by my preferred artist:

Here are some more beautiful flowers I received from my Aunt Elaine, thank you Aunt Elaine, your note especially touched me and was very timely:

Oh, by the way, my birthday was more than a week ago, I'm just really really late getting this post up. With Eliot home from school, well it's hard to say how that has changed the rhythm of the day. We never got used to him being away, and now that he's home we are trying to figure that rhythm out too. But we are glad he's home.
Dick took a snap of Eliot and me at my birthday dinner last weekend. Then we turned the flash off so as to not attract undue attention as I proceeded to photograph every course which came out, so the rest of the photos are a little dim:

The food at Nicola's (Cincinnati) is beyond divine, I recommend it.
Carpaccio of Bresaola with Mascarpone cheese, local gold rush apples, 15 years old balsamic vinegar and micro arugula. Bellissimo...

This is actually Dick's Entree, more photogenic than mine, Lobster and Ricotta Ravioli, yum...

Full Disclosure, this really isn't the Cappuccino from Nicola's. This is the one I had at a favorite restaurant in New Jersey from when we picked Eliot up from school. This picture turned out better than the one from birthday dinner night and both were excellent. And it is Decaf, are you kidding? I'd be up all night.

I wish had I thought to photo the bread basket. Truly the most creative and delightful combination of little breads we've sampled anywhere. Really. I've never seen an assortment this great and every one delicious. We had fun trying them all. Only problem, definitely no room for dessert after everything which came before!
But it was a great night, putting a cap on a great week. Thank you to all my friends and family who helped to make me feel special and remember my day and week without reminding me I'm %@ years old!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Family Dinner Finale

Three Generations! My sister Kathy, Eliot, My aunt Elaine!

Here’s a news flash: Being a Mom isn’t easy. Wow! Send that to the presses. And when you get something right and can get an 18 year old to say so, unsolicited, well savor that…. Because that’s a moment in time. And that’s what I’m doing this morning. I’m savoring the moments of our ‘Family Dinners’ from this past season.

You may recall.. .Shortly after the New Year we instituted…Family Dinners. My friend, Pastor Mike, was speaking about what Sundays are really supposed to be for and about: Family, Family time, unstructured time. So I immediately combined those and structured it to Sunday Family Dinners! Okay, so I got the ‘unstructured’ part wrong, but the sentiment right! These filled several needs for me as I LOVE to cook great food, love to be with my family, and was still feeling the effects of our son having gone off to college for the first time. It was pretty quiet around here.

Well, last night was the last of the dinners for this season. Next week we move family gatherings to my sister Terry’s house for Memorial Day, Father’s Day, summer birthday’s, etc. (8/11 of the males in our family have June birthdays.) And it’s just time to truly have unstructured Sundays again, the cooking a simple meal for 12-20 each week gets more difficult as the weather calls us to be outdoors.

Eliot is now home from college, so last night was the first he has been able to attend. He was here for the ‘prep’ time. He scooped out the tomatoes for a great new appetizer I was trying out on everyone. And he sampled the tomato sauce on the Lasagna, ‘just to be sure it was up to standards.’ He was out when I made the Vegetable Lasagna, so that was a new one to him when I served it last night. He helped Dick get the house ready a little bit, too. So he knows we prepare for the family to come over, it’s a big part of our week, but it’s very casual too. For the family it’s ‘come as you are.’ Whoever can make it. Not a big deal. We want this to be easy, no obligations, nobody has to bring anything, unless they want to.

All I want to say is, I think Eliot got it. As the last of family was leaving last night from the front porch we watched as Zane, the 5 year son of my niece (my Great Nephew?) was zig zagging out our driveway to his waiting car and parents, waving ‘Bye, see you next week.’ Eliot smiled. ‘This was good, Mom’ He wasn’t talking about Lasagna, and I knew what he meant. Newsflash! Amen!

One of the 4th generation, Zane:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Julie & Julia

OMG! It's not even out yet... I've only seen the trailer... And it's already my favorite movie. I love Amy Adams. I love Julia Childs. What a perfect movie.. Gosh, I hope I'm not setting myself up for a let down here. But it looks great! Oh.. Meryl Streep? She's pretty great too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

”We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present” ~~ Marianne Williamson

We had a ‘Celebrating Women’ event at our Church this past Friday evening. I chaired the event, but it only went off well because I had a great team of women around me. Mid stream we switched our theme and made these flowers our logo, and based all of our décor and design elements around it. This mainly occurred because these flowers make me happy.

One of my favorite days in preparation for the retreat was sitting in my office, all windows open, with a cup of coffee and a pair of scissors cutting around these flowers. We had decided at the last minute to make nametags with the flower motif as the background… pure bliss. I am not the least bit crafty, but even I could master this job, what a way to while away a morning, in my jammies yet! I’m not sure anyone else at the event was as happy with how darling those nametags looked, but I sure loved them.

As I said, this was a night to Celebrate Women… what about them? Our speaker touched on how women ‘Influence, Affirm, Inspire, and Sacrifice’ for others OFTEN. And encouraged us to think about who had done that for us in the past. I think I touched on that in a previous post.

What I hope came out of the event, is the consideration of the ‘pay it forward’ theme… who are you ‘influencing, affirming, inspiring, and sacrificing’ for now or who might you be in the near future? There is also the very real truth (that’s redundant, I know .. real truth) we are always INFLUENCING by our presence, but what is that influence? That Influence has the potential to have within it affirmation, inspiration, and sacrifice and the opportunity to inspire others to want to emulate same… or not… I try to be a positive Influence wherever I go, I Affirm whenever possible and it is possible, …. Extending love in the present.

What we did not touch on in the event is the Mother’s role in doing those four things or the Mothers role in general. You see, this was not a Mother’s Day event, it just happened to occur on Mother’s Day weekend. But certainly as these questions were put to the women in attendance some were thinking of their Mother. Maybe some attendees had the kind of Mom for whom all of those things (influence –the good kind, affirmation, inspiration, sacrifice) came from her. Even so, they probably thought of other people too, because no one person can be all that for a person. We get our needs and our inspiration met as we go through life from a variety of places and people …. And that is good… Because there were other women in that room… who didn’t think of their Mom when those questions came up or they did, but her name wasn’t the correct answer to the question. They thought of other women who stood in and provided same. … Again, for a variety of reasons. And maybe it made them sad, that they couldn’t name their Mom. Or maybe it made them so grateful..for the women who stood in…

That’s a photo of my parents, from a much earlier time. My Mom passed away when I was 18, but I really lost her much earlier than that. She became ill when I was in my early teens. I know she loved her family fiercely, including me, our timing was just a little off. She still had her opportunity to instill many lessons, memories, and much love into our family.

Happy Mother’s Day!!! Especially to my three older sisters who stood in and sometimes still stand in, Happy Mother’s Day ~ Kathy, Terry and Sue!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Breakfast Daily!!

This is what I eat. Every. Day. Daily. Each Day. All the time. In the morning. Consistently. Rarely do I deviate from this. The ingredients don't vary either. AND I LOVE IT!!!!

I'm not much of a morning person. Really. I AM thankful to wake each morning with the gift of a new day and I do appreciate the beautiful sky and trees out my bedroom window each morning, etc, etc. If it's warm enough we have coffee on our screened-in porch, and we eeeeaaaassseee into the day on those when we have that luxury of not having to rush off somewhere, and I am grateful. Ever so so grateful.
And I can say that a source of my daily poor eating habits started right there in the morning for many decades. I didn't want to think a lot about what I was going to eat and then fix that thing, whatever it was. So if it was wrapped and in the drawer, and all I had to do was unwrap it and it tasted good, so much the better. How about a twinkie, anyone? Poptart?
Well, that only works for so long. And about two years ago, I figured out it wasn't working anymore. (Read 'about me')
So now this is what I eat. It's one cup of Non-Fat PLAIN yogurt! I start out with frozen blueberries, I buy a big bag at one of our local wholesale type stores and I use about 3/4 cup. I put them in a microwave safe bowl zap them for a minute to let them soften, then add the cup of NFP yogurt. I cut up one banana (I refrigerate my bananas as soon as they get ripe, I like them cold) into it, I had a few almonds* and a few dried cranberries, sprinkled on top are two cereals, just a sprinkling of each. Right now I'm using two different Kashi cereals. Kashi Go-Lean Crunch and Kashi Sunshine. I mix it all together and it tastes great.
The important thing is I'm not hungry all morning long. It really fills me up with the dairy, fruit, the cereal, the almonds. I don't get mid-morning munchies. This is really key for me as a lot of times I'm working around my house dangerously close to my kitchen....
Or my former temptation when I'm out during the day was to stop at Starbucks. I'm still a fan of Starbucks. But you know that pastry case they used to have in every store? You used to have to stand in front of it to get to the Barista to place your order... It is GONE!!!!!! At least in my mind. (I know they didn't really remove the pastry cases from S-bucks, I'm pretending they did. In my mind, they do not exist) In my former life stopping at S-bucks meant visiting that case too. Having a nutritionally sound full breakfast causes me to not have the ups and downs which crave the sweets they used to keep in that case....
About those *almonds I mentioned, I keep a small dish of RAW almonds and dried cranberries on my countertop. It is another of my favorite strategies to fight off the 'hungries.' Raw almonds are not roasted in oil and salt, therefore are much healthier for you. They are easy to find in most markets, I believe. I have not been able to find dried cranberries which don't have a least a little sugar in them. I'm told they use the sugar partly as a preservative and without it the cranberries would be hard little pebbles. I don't know if that is the case. But I'm risking a small amount of sugar in the cranberries because the ratio of sugar to cranberry and almond, can't be that high, and it still works. When I feel I need a little snack, sometimes when I'm cooking dinner, esp. if it's running late, munching on a few of those will hold me over until mealtime. This is a huge improvement over previous alternatives and I keep it readily available for emergencies, always!! It's also the same mixture I put in my breakfast above.
Remember to eat breakfast, it IS the most important meal of the day to get your metabolism going and start you eating healthfully all day long!
Okay, so now I've shared a few more of my new life-survival tips with you. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Daisies were my Mom's favorite flower. I'm certain it's not a coincidence they are one of my favorites also! I'm thinking about Mothers Day early for several reasons. I'll be traveling on Mother's Day this year. My MD present is to be re-united with our son, as we pick him up from his first year of college on Mother's Day! That will be quite a gift. I wonder if I'll have to carry any of the boxes since it's 'my day?'
Another reason for contemplation of this annual event for women is a Women's Celebration dinner I'm hosting at our church prior to retrieving my son. While we aren't talking about Mother's Day specifically that evening, what we will talk about, and celebrate, are the women in our lives who have made an impact in one area or another.
Who has encouraged us? Affirmed us? Guided and supported us in tough and good times? And have you thanked them? Have you considered what a privilege it is that we get to do that for one another? And who do you do those things for? Or who might you be being nudged to guide, support, encourage, affirm.... It's probably many people. I think we do it every day. Encouragement, guidance, support, is not a role reserved only for Mothers, but rather something we do as women.
Thank you to those women who always stepped in to fill those roles for me and to those who continue to do so. There are many. Happy Mother’s Day! It might seem early, but I'm thinking about it (and YOU, the women who..) all week. And it seems a good time to say thanks...I couldn't have done it without ya! Love, B

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What is your Vascular Age?


How old are you…really..? Do you know? Your ‘Vascular Age’ is the number which truly counts and you need to have a CIMT to find out what that is. Fortunately, there is a simple, painless, non-invasive procedure to determine that age. But it isn’t free!

CIMT* – or Carotid Intima Media Thickness provides a direct measurement of vascular disease, if any, even at its earliest stage before it causes any symptoms or starts to block blood flow. This is done via a quick, painless ultrasound of the carotid arteries (along your neck) and usually takes place in a Drs’ office, a medical lab, or other clinical setting. This is a look at the inner lining of your artery to determine atherosclerotic plaque accumulation. The carotid artery is a good indicator of what your other arteries look like.
Previously, the best/only way to determine your/my risk for heart disease/stroke was to assess the risk factors – family history, history of smoking, obesity, poor diet, exercise, cholesterol. Possibly you were put on medication if one or more of these were out of line. i.e. – high cholesterol. Relying on these factors as a determinate of future events is no longer recommended in light of current technology.
CIMT screening reveals the effect any of these risk factors may or may not be having on the health of your arteries and heart. That’s the important information. Not do I have a history? But is that history having an impact, taking root, causing damage, aging me prematurely, making me older than I am, causing me to have heart damage that I’m not feeling or of which I’m unaware? These are the important questions.
By the time we feel the effects of heart disease, the damage has already been occurring. Knowing about it in advance, gives one time to make those lifestyle changes or time to take the cholesterol medication that is being considered, or both.

Heart disease is the number one killer of American men and women. It is preventable or at least manageable if you have all the information.

Right now, most insurance companies are not covering CIMT! Don’t you love it? It is considered ‘preventative screening.’ Now my argument to the insurance company would be: certainly it would be less costly in the long run to pay for a test now to screen for and ultimately prevent onset of potential heart disease, than to treat me later if I develop full blown Coronary Artery Disease… but that is a different blog post.
The cost for my CIMT was $125. I paid cash, as was required by the company, which is ‘Midwest Imaging.’ Midwest Imaging visits my Drs. Office once a month and that’s where I had mine. If you are in the Cincinnati area you can call them directly and find out their testing locations. A Drs. order is not required to have a CIMT, but you will want to share the results with your physician. If not in Cincinnati, check with your physician or Google CIMT and the name of your town.
The results, which took several weeks to receive, are quite detailed and quite fascinating. You will learn your ‘Vascular age’ as compared to others of your race, age, gender, as well as your risk for a heart attack in the next 10 years. (Given in a percentage)
CIMT is not the only ‘preventative screening’ test out there for heart disease, but is considered to be the best option. There is no x-ray radiation with an ultrasound. CIMT gives more information about the effects within the artery itself.
The other significant test being utilized is a ‘CT for Coronary Calcium’ which gives a numerical risk for heart event based on the amount of calcium in the arteries of the heart. It is a CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography) of the heart and therefore x-ray radiation is utilized . Of course, many times, CAT scans are needed and valuable tools, and I don’t concern myself with the radiation of the CT when medically warranted. But my Dr. felt that for NO RADIATION we gain more information about my arteries by having this ultrasound CIMT. Other independent data supports her on this – more information gained at no pain, or risk by having the CIMT. The calcium score with the CT scan is not the whole story of the artery, but the ultrasound CIMT could detect plaque and well as determine wall thickness from aging, to tell a more complete story of your arteries, or mine!

*CIMT recommend for all those over the age of 40 regardless of presence of heart symptoms or history of heart disease.
I have no affiliation with any company or entity providing CIMT testing

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pansies on Fountain Square

Here are some more photos we took while visiting downtown Cincinnati on Saturday. I don't pretend to be a professional photographer or anything, but at least on my screen these look pretty good. Remember you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it. My sister, Sue, enjoyed the tulips enough to want them as her desktop background. You have my permission to do the same if you wish. Right click on any photo and select 'make this my background' and that will happen!

These photos were taken from a display on Fountain Square. The best vantage point for the display was actually aerial, as was shown on the local news. In lieu of that capability we stood on our tip toes...

A few years ago (2) Cincinnati went to great time, labor, and expense mostly, to move the 'Tyler Davidson Fountain' in our main square. They moved it, mmmm, a good 10yards, but seemed to feel that would totally renovate our downtown Fountain Square. I'm not certain it really looks that different, but I will say they've done a lot to utilize the new 'more functional' space. They've certainly held more functions there, so maybe they were right. In any case, the square is being used and utilized in a positive way. There is always something going on there at least most of the year. Plus, a giant screen TV where baseball games as well as political events are broadcast. Really, they're on the right track. We enjoyed it this day!

I grant permission to use photos from my website for noncommercial, personal use only.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Tulips

Easter is no time for argument.
Lilies don't argue; they bloom.
Springtime doesn't argue; it comes.
Music doesn't argue; it sings.
Beauty doesn't argue; it beckons and points.
Love doesn't argue; it outlives our griefs.
~Frederick B. Speakman~

Our son is home from college and we took some time yesterday to enjoy the beauty outside and be together. The above shot was one of many we took around town. This one is from a garden in downtown Cincinnati. It’s great to have Eliot home, nothing has changed yet everything has. He is growing up too soon and not soon enough. Maybe if you’re the parent of a college age (boy) you understand what I mean by that? Anyway, it’s great to have him home and I hate to see him have to go back to New York tomorrow. Of course, he can’t wait to get back to school, friends, and NY life. And I can’t blame him.
I’ll have no Sunday dinner recipes to share this week, we are dining out with the whole family for Easter as we do every year. I hope you have a great Easter and great week.
There is something so special about this time of year…. I claim not to have a favorite season but love how there is so much promise in the air right now. It’s in the blooms we are seeing on branches and in gardens and as the skies change and the air smells different, it’s Spring. It smells fresh. The message to me, of Spring, is the message of Easter~~ one of hope, renewal, promise….. Maybe I do have a favorite season after all!

Hey FYI!!! - You are able to click on any photo in the blog to enlarge it for better viewing! I didn't know either. These tulips look great enlarged.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whipped Butternut Squash

I realized I really didn't quote my source for this great recipe so I want to add this in. This recipe if I'd used the correct type squash is a direct copy of a recipe I read off the website. (that's not a typo. no 'e' in kitchen)but I made it from memory, I couldn't find the recipe or remember where I got it at the time I made it and wrote the blog entry. Just got an RSS feed update from them today and remembered that's where it came from. Great website, please check them out!

Well this might not be a summer favorite, but since it's looking like winter in Cincinnati today, (snow flurries, mid thirties, should be mid sixties!), I'll once again share what I fixed for family dinner on Sunday. Whipped Butternut Squash was the side dish. Actually it was more of a 'tasting,' there were 15 of us here this week. I didn't do too great on my recipe multiplication this time!! But we had plenty of the other items to fill in. So back to the squash, it's a compilation of a few recipes and a mistake! I really meant to make spaghetti squash and bought the wrong kind, twice! I don't know what I was thinking. I'm not good at identifying trees, flowers, plants, or squash varieties apparently.... So we went with the butternut, and it worked! Amen!
The secret ingredient and one worth noting for future reference is the roasted sage. Fresh sage when roasted is *the*most*heavenly*thing*... and worthy of finding other recipes for its use. I roasted more than I anticipated needing for this dish.
So I used the meat of two Butternut Squash. How you cook the squash is up to you. Many choices, It can be microwaved or roasted in the oven. I cut mine in half lengthwise, put olive oil on the cut sides, put cut sides down on a baking dish and roasted in a 375 degree oven for an hour. Test to be certain it is fully cooked/tender on inside, if so, let cool enough to handle. Remove and discard seeds and pulp, peel from skin. (I just take a large spoon and scoop it out of the shell)

Here is the ingredient list:
2 Butternut squash, roasted.
2 T. roasted Sage*, chopped
3/4 C Ricotta Cheese (low fat is a great idea)
Pine nuts (I toast mine in advance)
Grated Parmesan (not the kind in the green can)
Some heavy cream or butter, just small amount
Salt and Pepper (kosher salt, fresh grd pepper)

After roasting and removing the squash from the peel, place the squash in a mixing bowl, whip with a hand mixer. Add ricotta cheese, some cream and butter, S&P to taste, whip to desired consistency. Stir in (by hand) the sage, top with pine nuts and grated parmesan. Enjoy!!
Could drizzle with truffle oil and just be in heaven! Really.

*Roasting sage=slight amount of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place the fresh sage leaves in the oil and lightly cook until just slightly browned. Watch very carefully. May turn once while cooking. Remove from heat immediately and place on a paper towel lined plate to cool. Blot off before chopping.

So, Betsy, what else did you serve with that squash? Well, it really doesn't matter because that was the best part, but thanks for asking.
But I'm pretty happy with the Stuffed Red and Yellow Peppers also. I made those by request of my beautiful niece Shelby. She asked for them, so I was going to make them. But I never eat stuffed peppers because I've only been served them in the Green Pepper variety and I have to say those aren't my favorite vegetable, despite my love affair with the color green..... So I explored recipes and decided to stuff the yellow and red variety. Again, I combined 2 or 3 recipes...even though I've never made, and rarely eaten, stuffed peppers I just went ahead and experimented right there on my family. I mean, that's what they're for, right?! (That's okay they don't read this.)
So the peppers were stuffed with a combo of beef, pork, rice and chopped up onion and mushrooms, all pre-cooked. The best thing I did was pre-broil the peppers before stuffing them, I didn't want them to be too raw and I knew my meat was already cooked and wouldn't take long in the oven.... I topped everything with chopped (canned) tomatoes mixed with tomato sauce, feta cheese, and bread crumbs mixed with parmesan. You can let me know if you want that recipe. Most people liked the stuffed peppers, some people reallllly liked them. And a person or two didn't care for them, because they don't like stuffed peppers, not that MINE weren't good. (Sorry T., I'll have something you like next time, I promise, please come again.)
So, all in all, it was a good meal. We also had salad and rolls, and a good turnout of people, which is what it's about!! The peeps! (not the Easter peeps, the people 'peeps'!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brussels Sprouts

I'm particularly fond of green and particularly fond of Brussels Sprouts! No long blog today, just this photo! Happy April 1st! It's greening up outside too.
Coming soon: the photo and how-to for the brussels sprouts which I dream about and prepare several times a week! A favorite. I didn't start eating brussels sprouts till about two years ago so I guess I'm making up for lost time. In the meantime, lets just enjoy their beauty....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Roasted Tomatoes!

Is it really any wonder Italy's colors are Red, White and Green?
(They are, aren't they?)
This salad is the cure while we wait for really flavorful tomatoes to appear in markets and gardens around town. I made lots of extra tomatoes to keep on hand beyond what I used for this salad. They are quick and easy to prepare (well except for the two hours roasting) and keep well in frig. I got the tomato recipe straight from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) one of my favorite Food Network Chefs. I have all her cookbooks too. The photos are truly works of art! (You know you are a true foodie- when you check out cookbooks and consider it art.)
So this salad is two twists on your typical “Caprese Salad.” One, the tomatoes are roasted and two, it’s a spinach salad underneath.... But other than that... That's what this is.
So for the Tomatoes:
Plum or Roma’s work best. Wash and cut in half lengthwise. With your thumb remove the seeds and fibers from the inside leaving the core or spine. I also trim the part where the stem attached. I place them face down in a colander to make sure all juices have drained out while I continue cleaning out remaining tomatoes.
On a baking sheet which I prefer to line with parchment paper, place the tomatoes with their open sides up. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Also drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. This is all 'to taste,' but I've found the sugar is important to the flavor. (You’re not coating them, just make sure you hit each tomato with some each of the salt, pepper, and sugar) And, ta-da, you are ready to roast 275 degrees, for 2 to 2.5 hours. Let cool thoroughly before storing. They can be used slightly warm if going directly onto this salad.

The Salad:
Roasted Tomatoes
Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Worchestershire Sauce
Salt* and Pepper**
It’s really just a matter of assembling. I dress the spinach lightly with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, worchestershire. Mix lightly, taste. If you like it, place it on tray or in bowl. Layer in the mozzarella, tomatoes, basil. Drizzle a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, S& P over top and serve. Best served room temp for flavors to excel!!

*Salt – anytime I ever say ‘salt’ I mean coarse kosher salt.
**Pepper – anytime I ever say ‘pepper’ I mean fresh ground pepper.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pork Tenderloin Sliders

"Cooking is at once child's play and an adult joy.
And cooking done with care is an act of love"

~ Craig Claiborne

We had Pork Tenderloin Sliders this past Sunday! I was pretty happy with how they turned out. These are great for tailgates and picnics too, because they're great warm or cold. I served these warm with some of the warm juices from roasting on them and a white sauce on the side and a pickle for crunch! You can almost get 12 little sandwiches from one tenderloin. I use those 'Hawaiian Rolls,' available everywhere for these sandwiches. I promised my sister, Kathy, the marinade recipe.

Here it is:
1 or 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled then grated
1/4 C. Brown sugar, mix in with the ginger before adding the remaining ingred.
1/2 C. Catsup
1/2 bottle low sodium soy sauce
1/2 dry white wine
1/4 olive oil (whisk into the other ingredients)
Pour over tenderloins in a plastic bag or (non metal) bowl for several hours or overnight. I rinse and pat dry the tenderloins first and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This is enough marinade for one package of tenderloins, which generally has two within the pack, marinade is easily doubled for more tenderloins.
PS - I never throw away marinade. I boiled the marinade down and thickened with Wondra flour to make additional sauce to baste the tenderloins and for serving on the side. Roast the tenderloins about 45 minutes in a 375 degree oven until meat thermometer reaches 150 to 160 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes or so before slicing.

The 'White Sauce' is equal parts Hellman's Mayo, Sour Cream, add horseradish* to taste. Salt and pepper. Make ahead and chill before serving. (*Horseradish=a product in a jar usually in the dairy or possibly your meat area of your grocery. It is pure horseradish, never sauce, that's what we are making but this is better :-)

Vegetable is sauted sugar snap peas and asparagus with toasted almond slivers. My sister Terry brought the salad. The photo doesn't show what Sue and Kathy brought, but they supplied the appetizer and desserts. So this was a collaborative effort this week.
Thanks family for indulging my family get together whim each week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bailey's Irish Cream

Well, o course I'm a goona be wearin da green, I am Irish ya know! What are ye expectin affer all?
No, just kidding, I don't really talk like that, I have a really cute tiny voice!
But I am Irish, so I'm wearing my Dad's green shirt today. He doesn't even know I swiped it out of his closet, so he is gonna be surprised. He's got a real special way of folding clothes, my four little paws are never gonna get this shirt back in there the right way. So I might just curl up on it and go to sleep on it after I'm finished wearing it and celebrating all this St Paddys Day stuff.
My parents named me after the liquor of the same name. I know I look completely white in the photos of me, but I'm really kinda caramelly colored if you look real close. So my parents thought Bailey's Irish Cream was an apt description cause it kind of looks that way too, so they tell me. This also had some irony to it, cause my Mom wasn't gonna be havin any other Irish Creams in her life any other way.(Something bout her liver) So they thought this was a good way to keep a little Irish around.
I think that means they are going to keep me. Hope so, it's a pretty good life for me here. I mean I don't have to do too much except look cute and follow Mom from room to room and take walks with them when the weather is warm enough to walk outside. And they feed me really good stuff! I'd really like to stay, so if you're talking to my parents go ahead and put in a good word for me. You can even tell them you saw my picture and how cute I looked, that always gets em. But tell them to bring my brother back, he went somewhere where there is a BIG city and I never get to see him. So sometimes it's a little bit quieter here than it used to be, tell them to fix that! Eliot if your reading this, college can't be that great, Bro! It is? Oh! Well, see ya at Easter anyway.
Well, thanks for reading my first blog post! Happy St Paddy's Day! Luck O the Irish to Ya All!
Bailey's Irish Cream

Friday, March 13, 2009

Veggies are the Secret!!

(photo courtesy of Mirek Pajak)

I started this blog by saying I would share some of the tips to losing some of the necessary weight and keeping it off. The secret is in the vegetables! At any given meal we will have two or three vegetables when I'm just cooking for Dick and I. Usually we will just get one steak or chop or whatever meat we are having and split it. (and sometimes have some left over!) But we will have had a salad and two or three vegetables with it. I've really changed the focus of how my meals are centered. Last Sunday, for the weekly family dinner, I prepared Stuffed Shells. They were fabulo-so!! I ate two, plus some of that asparagus featured in the above photo. My sister Sue brought a great salad with spinach, strawberries, spiced nuts, and (fat-free) feta cheese in it. It was great too. However after that meal, I sent a lot of family members home with the shells, Dick had some leftovers throughout the week, but I was finished with the shells. They weren't really on my plan. I enjoyed them while I enjoyed them, no guilt! But then I was finished.... Now the asparagus on the other hand, leftovers of that worked in salads or eaten cold right out of the frig. Veggies are my friend!! There ya go one tip for how I'm doing it. One day at a time! But sometimes two veggies at a time!
A note on the family dinners: Everyone I'm related to is invited, every week. I have three terrific sisters and a 'second' Mom,a myriad of nieces and nephews, some married with children of their own, the daughters I mentioned in a previous blog and their children, and an aunt, all here in town!! We get a pretty big crew here sometimes. I really enjoy it. The above photo, as I've already notated, was taken by Mirek Pajak my nephew by marriage, to my niece Stephanie.