Share Your World, August 13, 2018

Just typing the title of this post, I feel like I’m creating a time capsule that I’ll visit years from now to reminisce.  Anyone can participate – just visit Cee’s Photography and subscribe.

A class I wish I had taken?  Art!  I pursued academics at the exclusion of art, and dearly regret it.  Creativity sparks intelligence – wish I had nurtured mine more.  That said – it’s never too late – and I can still learn.

Afraid of heights? Yes, terribly so.  It’s why I have very little photographs looking down.

Am I a good cook?  Definitely not a chef, but I am confident in the kitchen (have been cooking for crowds since I was fifteen).  Not afraid to experiment.  Love to make soups, or stews.

What did I appreciate this week?  I am loving my new home.  I appreciate all who helped with the move.  Friends came from over an hour away to help us – a wonderful and unexpected boost for a wearing task.

(Photo is the downtown area of our new town.)

Salmon Intentions or Battle of the Can

A single onion, its papery crisp coating still intact, sits on a small cutting board, signalling intent.  Beside it, a sharp-edged knife, and an unopened can of salmon.

thIt is the salmon can that has turned this scenario from an action shot to a still-life.

I had planned to have it for dinner last night – a plan that started early in the day, when energy and clarity of thought of was still available.  I even thawed a gluten-free English muffin with the intention of spreading the salmon salad on the freshly toasted halves.  It felt like such a simple, yet healthy, option.

But then I went to the hospital, visited my now-on-the-mend husband, had my driver stop for a Starbuck’s on the way home, and ended up curled in a fetal position on the bed, feeling like I’d been thrust into a sudden-onset flu.

They must have put milk in my tea, was the only explanation I could come up with.  A couple of hours of close contact with the toilet, and I faced the ever-present dilemma of what to eat.  Could my stomach still handle the salmon?  I set it on the countertop while contemplating, selecting a small-sized onion and, well you know the rest of this picture. I considered the salmon over the next couple of hours, even picking the can up in my hands and trying desperately to will myself to continue.

In the end, I boiled an egg and ate that with muffin.

I’ll have it for lunch instead, I decided this morning, realizing that dinnertime is too late in the day for such momentous adventures.

It takes three attempts.
At 11:30 am, feeling somewhat energized (always a relative term with ME/CFS), I look at the onion, and the can, think about the effort it will take to open the can and then sort through the bones and skin – which I detest – and decide to rest instead.

12:12 am.  It’s not going to make itself, I realize, and I do need to eat, so I add a small glass bowl and the can opener to the setup, but still cannot see my way through to completing the action.  I lie down again. I could just nuke a cup of chicken broth.

1:38 pm.  This is ridiculous! The salmon is not going to make itself!  By now I can taste the salty fishiness of the desired repast, know it will be a gift of nutrients to my body, have convinced myself of the need.  I start with the onion, cut through the outer shell, discarding the unusable bits and finely chop half, placing it in the bowl.  That’s enough, screams my body, but I push on, opening the salmon, draining the water, and with a fork, begin to pick through the contents.  I just need to get enough meat to make this meal, I tell myself, discarding probably more than I should have.  Mashing the salmon and onion together, I add a dash of salt and pepper and a squeeze of mayonnaise (something I know I will regret later).  Done!

I sit to eat this masterpiece, afraid that I will not be able to manage it in bed, where I usually dine.

I spread the salad on thin rice cakes, savour the deliciousness with each bite, can no longer determine how hungry I am, or if I’ve eaten enough, settle on saving half of the mixture for tomorrow, and return to bed.

“What did you eat today?”  a well-meaning friend asks later.

“Salmon salad.”

“That sounds good – an easy meal.”

“Yes,” I respond, stifling my impulse to laugh at the irony of it all.

Who would believe that just contemplating a can of salmon could be such a battle?


Could Menu Planning Save Us?

If there is an award for lazy and unorganized my husband and I would be in the running.  Especially when it comes to meal planning.  Typically, we begin to plan our evening meal well after our day’s energy has been spent, about twenty minutes before we are ready to eat, and so we end up finger cooking. th-1

The trouble with takeout is that the food is usually high in fat, and the portions much larger than either of us needs.  If we are honest with ourselves, our weight and health issues will not be resolved if we continue this habit.

So, I have taken it upon myself to change the pattern, by attempting to meal plan in advance.  I’ve spent the past few days going through my cookbooks – many of which I purchased with a healthy regime in mind, but have never opened.  Using coloured tabs –  green for breakfasts, pink for lunch, red for dinners, and purple for healthy snacks – I went through and marked any recipes that I determined to be doable and appealing to both our palates.

Two of my favourite cookbooks:
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Since we already have two meals a week sorted out thanks to Chef’s Plate, I just needed to come up with a few extra dinner ideas.  Amazingly, it is not that difficult when you put your mind to it.

To make it easier, I typed up and printed out any necessary recipes for the week, so that the student we have hired to help us can do any prep work, or cook for us.

Planning ahead also made creating a grocery list much easier.  I have a feeling we have a lot less waste this week, and hopefully, that our grocery costs are less.

If this goes well, we may not qualify for that award after all.

Here’s a sneak peek of some of what is on the menu:

Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup (Vegan Yum-Yum)th-4

Rigatoni with Grape Tomato Sauce
Brown Rice and Coconut Rice Pudding (The Gluten-Free Vegan)

(Note:  While I have never been a practicing Vegan, I do need recipes that are dairy-free, and both of the above mentioned cookbooks deliver with delicious, easy to make meal ideas.)



Meal Planning Mayhem Managed

We have a food dilemma.  My body is so sensitive to what I put in it that  every time I make poor choices, I suffer.  While the solution may look simple from the outside, it is not.  These are the challenges we’ve been facing:

I prefer a vegetable based diet, with legumes or beans as my protein.  I love international dishes and go for a satisfied palate rather than a full stomach.  Dairy, gluten, and shellfish are no-no’s for me.

My husband is a meat-lover, despises beans, thinks of vegetables as a side (after starch) and is adverse to curry.   Apart from bell peppers he has no food intolerances, and likes high fat, high sugar food. He’d eat hamburgers daily.

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He does all the shopping, and most of the cooking, due to my current state of health.  Did I mention that he is also mobility challenged, and apart from looking after me, runs a full-time business?  Meeting both our needs has been a problem.

Our former solution was to order out most nights, usually with leftovers the next day – not recommended!

Over time, we are learning to cope by implementing a few changes:

  1.  thWe’ve hired a teenager, who comes to the house two afternoons and chops vegetables, and other basic prep.  Some days, with my supervision, she will make soups, or simple meals, which has been very helpful.  Otherwise, she leaves chopped up produce in small bags in the fridge so that we can use them for smoothies, or cooking. This works if there are groceries in the house, and I have planned ahead.
  2.  th-1Loblaws, we have discovered, now offers online shopping.  For a $5 fee, we can select our purchases from the comfort of home, and pick up the filled order at a location and time we specify.  This has been a great help for my husband and allows me to participate in the process.  (Ontario, Canada)
  3. 1455205163_Vietnamese_Noodle_Bowl_WEBChef’s Plate is a food service that delivers meal kits (up to three per week).  The meals come packaged with all that you need to cook your own dinner along with a step-by-step recipe card.  Meals are selected a week in advance, and there are choices that accommodate food sensitivities, which is very helpful for me.  We usually choose one for his palate, one for mine, and an agreed upon meal.  The meals are healthy, tasty, and always satisfying.

Meal planning can be difficult at any stage of life, whether single, juggling parenthood and work, catering to different food needs/tastes, or aging.  Add disability and dependence on others to the mix, and it becomes an all-consuming (pun intended) problem.

Happy to say, we are making headway.