Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pork Tenderloin and Tomato Relish

Last night we tested another recipe for Cook's Illustrated.  This time it was for pork tenderloin, tomato relish with couscous.  It was a healthy recipe to be prepared in a crock pot.  Right off the bat I felt this was not a good recipe.  Why use a crock pot for meat that will cook quickly in the oven or on a grill?  But we made it anyway.

The last bullet point worried me,  "be sure to spoon the tomato relish over the pork before seving or else the pork may taste a bit bland."  Was I about to waste two tenderloins on a bad recipe?

I decided to also make Southern Green Beans to go with it.  At least part of the meal would be fabulous.  Just stating the facts, folks.  My beans are killer!

Beans ready to snap

Bacon grease, bacon, salt ( No Salt at our house), minced onions, and love.

Ingredients for the meat dish.  Tenderloins are ready to be trimmed of fat and silver skin.

Meat rubbed with seasonings, fennel one of them yuck, and in broth to cook.

Set for two hours on low

Meat resting and couscous in crock pot.

Tomato Relish: wine vinegar, basil, cherry tomatoes, garlic, salt n pepper, olive oil
This was really really good.

This, not so good.  Color is awful, no browning, just gray.  And they were right, without the relish, very bland except for strong fennel taste.  People, fennel and pork does not work well.  Marty loves fennel, me not so much, and he didn't like the combination.  

If you cover the meat up with relish and couscous, not a bad looking plate.  

We will salvage the left over pork and make sandwiches.  A little mustard or BBQ sauce will make it better.  I would make the relish over again.  It would make a nice tangy salad.  

Pork tenderloin in a crock pot, why?  It should have been browned first, and then maybe different seasonings.  Yes, you can throw stuff together and leave it cooking for a couple of hours.  But it wasn't good.  I could have cooked it in the oven better and faster. And I have. I love a crock pot, but they are not for all things.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

And More Weddings

There are a couple more weddings from Monday I want to share with you all.

I had first, a sighing bride. Dictionaries usually define a sigh as a cry, relief something is over, or even sadness.  This sigh was  tender, happy, full of love.  After the bride said her vows, she gave this sweet sigh .  It was the most heartfelt, happy, loving sound I have ever heard. 

The next couple had a large group.  I asked is everyone here.  And of course,  the answer was no.  But this time I wasn't upset.  Grandmother had gone to the bathroom, and since she is 98 she takes a little longer.  We waited and then we all started laughing.  Here came Grandmother rushing toward us pushing her wheelchair.  They got her to sit in the chair and they pushed her onto the elevator.  This wedding was already fun.

The bride wore a white lace knee length dress.  It had cap sleeves and a scoop neck. The skirt was a lined lace semicircle.  The bride's jewelry was stunning.  She wore a mother of pearl and turquoise necklace.  The turquoise was set to look like little leaves between each oblong mother of pearl part.  Her earrings were Mother of pearl. 

The bride cried and the groom wiped her eyes and hugged her.  She was so happy and so emotional.  After the ceremony she asked if she could hug me.  Of course she got to, hugs are my big payment for volunteering. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Weddings, we have weddings!

Monday I was beginning to think no one wanted to be married.  Then about 10:30 it got busy.  From then until 12:30 I did 6 or 7 ceremonies, and there were two foreign language ceremonies.  Not a huge number, but a lot was done  in 2 hours.   The pink wedding took forever to sort out.

My first two couples were witnessing for each other.  You would have thought they were close friends the way they interacted.  One couple was in their 20's and the other in their 50's.  The older couple were African American and dressed in a light shade of orange and in white.  The other groom also had on an orange shirt.  The older bride had on a white "brocade" dress.  Except it was a heavy cotton with a linen orange stole.  Beautiful outfit.

I asked the older couple if they had their own vows: he said no and she said yes.  Big worry lines on his face, "Do I have to create something right now?"  I told him he could do the traditional vows and she could say what she wanted to say.  Well they both said their own thing, and made me tear up.  He began with, " I can't imagine my life without you . . ."

Then we had the pink satin wedding.  The groom and all the little boys wore black slacks, black vests, and Pepto Bismol pink satin shirts.  The bride wore the same pink colored satin blouse with a white lace skirt.  The little girls wore pink and black dresses.  The bride and groom were each 21 and two of the children were theirs, the oldest was 5 or 6.  Babies having babies.  The ceremony was lovely, everyone was happy.  I took the license in to be recorded and it all hit the fan.

The bride was changing her name to his, except it was his middle name (Smith), not his last name.  The law won't let you do that.  ( I had never been told about this particular law.)  His ID showed his name as John Smith Doe, as did the marriage license.  Their children had the name, Smith.   He told us the ID had been wrong for years.  Why didn't he correct it years ago?  He said his birth certificate had John Doe Smith on it.  The Marriage desk clerk told him to take the birth certificate to DMV and they would tell him what he needed to do.  I am not sure what name the bride ended up with.  I had another couple to marry.

More weddings later this week.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weight loss, how did I do it?

I am asked all the time, how did you lose so much weight. And I tell them no Cheetos for breakfast.  They think I am kidding, but I'm not.  I gave up a lot of good tasting stuff:  Cheetos, sugar, ice cream, salt, caffeine, wine, Bourbon, and on and on.

Before all the drama, I made half hearted attempts to lose weight.  But I yo-yoed for years. Now I am serious.  Diabetes, A-fib, high blood pressure, bad knees and hip, blood clots; trust me that will give you religion.  I was terrified.  Kiss the bad eating good bye.

How about a before picture.  Not that I am proud of it, but I am proud it isn't me anymore. Yes, I knew I was big as the side of a barn, I just wasn't motivated.

81 pounds ago

In September when I came home from the hospital I was too weak to walk over a couple of minutes.  Every day I added another minute or two to my exercise time.  I would walk 5 minutes and rest 30.  I was one sick chicken.  But I got up to 30 minutes, and I was walking faster and taking longer strides.  Then I added in our 20+ stairs and jogged down them and ran up them.  I was working hard.  I exercised in some form every day for at least 30 minutes.

Now to my diet.  I am not allowed salt, sugar, or many carbs or fats, also I had to watch out for cholesterol.  We read labels anytime we bought processed food.  We found low salt food doesn't mean squat, no sugar doesn't mean low calorie, low calorie. . . compared to what.  You need a Master's degree to shop at Safeway.  Thankfully Marty took over and found/made good foods I could eat.  He made soups, broths, whatever I needed he found or made.  We ate a lot of chicken and pork chops.  I ate peanut butter on a half of piece of bread with almonds on the side.  I made tomato soup and sauces from the tomatoes I had put up.  No salt in them.  I watched Marty make fudge and bourbon balls and only ate one piece.

Small portions were key to losing weight, so we used smaller plates so it looked like more food.  If we ate out I ordered the best I could and skipped the fried food, sauces, bread and cheese.  I was careful, if I ate a rich meal I had really healthy meals for the rest of the week.  Also I never said never.  I allowed myself the right to eat anything I wanted.  I just rarely did.  Knowing I could have it let me wait out the cravings for lovely bad food.  Even my doctor said one meal won't kill you.  Just don't have too many one meals.

Wine and liquor can really mess with one of my medications.  Plus alcohol is empty calories.  So I rarely drink anything except water.  No caffeine or sugar eliminated most soft drinks and fruit juice.

November 2013

February 2014

April 2014

June 2014

This has been a difficult process.  No one loves rich food more than I do.  And Bourbon, mother's milk to a Southern Belle.  I have succeeded because of the support from friends and Marty.  His support is huge, cooking and shopping.  And he drives me to Kaiser Emergency often.  I am not scared of A-Fib anymore.  It disrupts our life, but we know it is treatable.  The other problems are scary but controlled most of the time.  

I wrote this because Marty asked me too.  He said it might help others with similar health issues. I hope it will help others.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Please be in the picture

Because we were on vacation last week, I didn't go in to do weddings.  The Monday before I had several ceremonies to perform.  I wrote about the one couple who was special.  Now for a little recap of that Monday.

The clerks were selling licenses for later weddings.  I did 5 ceremonies, and there were Spanish and Chinese ceremonies too.  It is June, love is everywhere.

One wedding was as if it were a business deal.  They had had a cultural wedding and this was strictly for the government.

Favorite groom's name ever, Romeo.  And he was as cute as his name.

The question Is everybody here? You all know the answer, NO.  They are waiting for a guest.  Why don't they just tell the clerk and we hold the license?  Oh well.  They were a fun group after all arrived.  Lots of guests, lots of laughing, lots of love.  All were thrilled this couple was, and I quote ". . . finally you are married."  The couple had been together 12 years.

After all the paper work was finished, I took pictures of the whole group.  Well, except for one woman.  She didn't want to be in the pictures, the bride and groom kept asking her to join them and she wouldn't.  So bad me turned around and took pictures of her anyway.  The bride wanted pictures of everyone, and what the bride wants she gets.

Friday, June 13, 2014


October 27, 2008 I posted my first blog.  I felt a need to write and knew I wasn't good enough or disciplined enough to write a book.  I was going to write for me, and hope to entertain a few people.  I have not picked up lots of readers, but that is OK.  The ones who read me seem to like what I am doing.  And I enjoy writing.

I have posted pictures of events we have gone to, testing recipes, parties, building a storage shed, hospital pictures, and updates on weight loss.  I have written rants on bicyclists with a death wish, some political views, and mostly about weddings and first graders.  I write what's happening to me or mine.

This is to show you a picture before A-Fib and diabetes changed my life.  I was just a little fluffy.  This is from an anniversary celebration for Marty and me year or so ago.

This picture was taken last weekend in Monterey Dunes.  Marty and I are on the left,  Hank (Little Brother) and Ann are on the right.  I'm not quite as fluffy as the picture above this one.

One Thousand posts, that is writing about a lot of stuff.  My readers probably know me better than some family members.  That's right, some family members don't read my fabulous blog (the non-readers are not immediate blood kin).  Their loss.  I will continue to write as long as I am able.  If you remember I have posted during the great drama of multiple diagnoses, selling a house, and moving. I keep on writing whatever is going on. There will be drama, humor, sadness, happiness, I will tell you about my life as a youthful senior citizen.

I hope you will continue with me, maybe you'll even share my posts on Facebook.  Yes, I am vain and want more readers, more likes, more comments.  If you have questions about what I do , like, support, tell me and I will try to respond.  If you want to, share the date of your favorite post.  I think that would be interesting to know.

Thank you for hanging in there with me.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If it can go wrong, it will.

The last week or so there have been many problems when we have bought things or been in a restaurant.  I bought bras at Macy's at a presale.  Marty went to pick them up, and they had lost them, and many other customers items.  After a week, they mailed me bras.

The next night we went out for my birthday dinner.  Reservations made on Open Table with info that it was a birthday celebrations.  This restaurant is a favorite, and they blew it.  They are known for asking is this a celebrations, nope.  Plus did not tell the server it was a celebrations.  The server was great, and when he asked if everything was OK, I said no.  Told him not his fault, but it would have been nice if someone had said Happy Birthday to me.  He was livid because the front people hadn't told him, and he has to share his tips with them.  He went straight to his manager and told her.  She called corporate, yes I do cause trouble, and they told her how to apologize and to give us a $20 gift card, and promised to retrain the front people.

Little Brother took us out his last night to a lovely restaurant. The appetizers were great, but they brought the cheese tray with no bread or crackers.  Ann is ready to order lamb, they are out.  It is not 7:00 and they are out.  She and Marty then order salmon in a caper and dill sauce.  It comes and they are out of capers. It was supposed to be  a caper sauce! No flavor at all.  They send it  back and reorder.  They then plunked my meal and Henry's down and left.  They should have waited until the other dishes were ready to bring ours.  Ok, after we finish they finally bring the other two dishes.  The food tasted good, some real good.  But the kitchen is making a mess of things.

We order dessert.  And guess what they come back and tell Marty they are out of what he ordered.  I went all diva drama queen on them.  I said I wanted the chef to come out and apologize for the mess of running out of everything so early and making the servers look bad.  And he finally came out and did his I am the king of this place and then threw the servers under the bus. (That really ticked off Ann and she explained a few thing to King Chef.)  Most people they serve eat earlier.  I told him he had our reservation and 6:30 is not a late dinner.

We explained a few facts of life in a kitchen to him.  He realized his attitude didn't work with us and tried niceness.  That worked a little better.  He apologized, told them to comp our meal (including wine) , gave us a gift card for 4 meals and his business phone number to call him anytime we are coming in. 

It sounds as if we made out like bandits.  But no meal in a very special restaurant should have the servers saying I am sorry for half the evening.  And I shouldn't have to tell a server, and I quote, "tell the chef to get his ass out here and apologize for messing up our meal". 

This Southern Belle got a little edgy.  I was sorry for my brother and Ann.  They wanted to do something really nice for me, they loved this place and it was just a mess.  But we did have the best table and the best view of Lake Merritt.

PS:  Henry gave the servers a very nice tip on our free meal. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Monterey and Moss Landing

Friday we drove down to the Monterey Peninsula, one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I had rented a house in Moss Landing  (check out the pictures on the link).  The house is right on the water.  My brother, Hank, and his wife, Ann are with us.

This was what we saw when we walked into the house.  Worth every penny for the cost of two nights here.  

Ann, Marty on the left, Hank on the right as they walk down to the beach.

Some of the wild flowers on the sand dunes above the beach.

Walking the beach

The tide is coming in and bringing with it: sand dollars, crabs, jelly fish, drift wood.  

We drove into Monterey for lunch and to walk around.  This was what we saw from our lunch table.  Sea lions and brown pelicans.  Above them is where the tourists who have been fishing have their catch cleaned.  The unwanted parts drain into the area where the pelicans are.  Fun watching them be fed.  The sea lions bark, push, and shove each other off the remnants of a dock they have taken over.

Two views off the end of the wharf.

We have had a lovely day. We came home and read, watched the Belmont, took naps, and watched the waves crashing on shore. We will go out of dinner tonight.  We are thinking Thai.  Tomorrow we have to check out of the house in the late morning.  But we will load up and then tour some more before we go home.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Love in the Room

I had several weddings on Monday, but one, on my word . . .

The groom was 68 years old and the bride was 61.  They beamed with happiness and love.  He wore a white on white shirt with tan slacks. She wore a long white dress that was fancy but not a true "wedding" dress.  She  had gardenias in her hair and carried a bouquet of calla lilies.  They looked just like everyday people.  But they were just a tad different.

They had been deaf since birth and were limited in their speech.  They read lips and did American Sign Language. They could read my lips and understand the ceremony and their friends signed questions I needed to ask them.

The couple had written their own vows. They signed and spoke them.  This was such a sweet touching ceremony.  The love radiated through out the room from the couple to the guests, from the groom to the bride, and from the guests to the couple.  I had goose bumps the whole ceremony.

The best part watching this couple, the bride was a bouncer/ laugher.  She grinned ear to ear, she laughed, joy was her middle name.  The groom could not stop smiling.  They were the happiest couple I have ever married. 

Happy, fun, sweet, and so much in love.  I asked if I could have a hug after the ceremony.  I really really enjoyed meeting this special couple.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to me

Today was my birthday.  I have had a lovely day.  Marty took me to lunch and then I had my hair cut and fluffed.  We ran errands, and we went to dinner.  The best part of the day, we were together.  All day. 

I received phone calls wishing me a happy birthday, my brother and his wife even sang to me.  I received lots of texts, e cards, cards via snail mail, and Facebook good wishes.   I really do feel loved, cared about, and lucky in my friends and family. 

In my family we celebrate more than one day.  As a friend says, we celebrate the birthday season.  Thursday Little Brother and Ann are arriving from Kentucky to take me out for a birthday dinner.  This may be the most expensive meal I have ever had if you factor in their transportation costs.  They will be here until Tuesday, lots of partying will happen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Another Happy Place

Friday I went back to Kaiser School to see my first graders.  I hadn't been to school since the first part of March.  And I had really missed working with the children.  Just pulling into the school made me happy.

Ms. H and I both got teary eyed and hugged a lot.  The children were so excited to see me, which made me feel great.  It was pretty emotional for all of us.

Ms. H asked me to explain to the class what was going on with me that prevented my volunteering.  I told them their hearts beat steady and go ba bum, ba bum, ba bum, ba bum around 70 times a minutes.  But mine at times goes babum, babum,             ba  bum,   ba . . . . . . . . .bumbum,  ba bum, babum babum, around 190 times a minute.  I compared it to them playing tag/ running races and being worn out after 30 minutes.  My heart ran those races for days.  I carefully told them it was treatable, I just was so worn out I wasn't strong enough to come work with them.

They seemed to understand on a simple level that I was sick, tired, but going to be OK.  Then they told me things they had done the last 2 1/2 months.  Paper Mache globes were made, the ducks hatched,  they had field trips, one little boy got a "baby" dog, one little girl had spent time in Turkey visiting family.  Lots of adventures were shared. 

The class had all made me big hearts with sweet notes on them.  Before they left for lunch they all gave me hugs and again made me cry.  This class has been so sweet, trouble at times, but sweet.

Even if I cried, this was a visit that made me really happy.  Keep your fingers crossed that in September I will be able to commit to working with the next class of first graders.

I need this happy place.