As someone who never felt like they “fit in” growing up, looking back on the moments in my life when I truly felt like I belonged, I realize how important that sense of connection is. We all seek it.
I’m thinking about this because of the pandemic this year, and the conscientious lack of social gatherings. Yet, there are many ways to be with family. And, Hanukkah began last Thursday night… although I’ve only recently discovered I’m part Jewish, it is encoded in my blood, and that knowledge has created a sense of peace. And a strong desire to cook latkes!
About two years ago my sisters and I joined Ancestry on a whim. We thought our maternal grandmother was half-Cherokee half-Irish, and that our Mom’s father was English.
We knew our Dad’s mother was Italian, through-and-through, (withstunning family names: Basile, DiNobile, and Sconamiglio!) And, our paternal grandfather was… well, he was missing, actually. A blank page in our book.
My Dad grew up without him, never even knew him, and like many people of that generation, it wasn’t a subject he was willing to talk about.
I may have been the one who instigated this whole quest, because from the first time I saw Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr’s “Finding Your Roots” on PBS I was hooked. And very, very curious about my roots. My sisters and I ordered our test kits, spit in a tube, and mailed them back.
Was I surprised to find out we had Jewish ancestry? Yes… we all were. But as my youngest sister said, “Wow, this explains a lot!”
First, it explained something very important about our missing grandfather – he was 100% Jewish. Who would ever have suspected that background with a name like O’Klock? And our 100% Italian grandmother, she of the beautiful names, was way more Greek/Albanian, and way less Italian than she knew!
The second equally surprising thing was that our maternal grandmother had no Native American blood, not a single drop, and no Irish ancestors, either. My Mom grew-up believing she was Cherokee and Irish, but it turns out Grandma was all Scottish. And my beloved “Grampie” was English, and German, and Swedish. He was the only grandparent I really knew. He loved me, and I adored him. He had exquisite handwriting, and he worked on the railroads and on his ramshackle little farm. I get my reverence for the land and for trains that cross it, from him. I happily lived in a cottage for thirteen years because it was just four houses away from the railroad tracks in South Austin.
“Hear that lonesome whippoorwill, he sounds too blue to fly. The midnight train is whining low, I’m so lonesome I could cry”
The more people explore their ancestry, the bigger the data base of DNA becomes and the more accurately results can be pinpointed. My map is an updated result for this year, and my Jewishness got “upgraded” three percent, which seemed somehow inevitable. I wanted to convert in high school – envious of my girlfriend’s Bat Mitzvahs (and nose-jobs) but my Father refused. And years later there was an almost-wedding and almost-conversion for Robby Cohen… who turned out not to be the “nice boy” I thought he was!
But mostly, that 29% explains the almost-religious experience I have every time I walk into a good Jewish deli. My blood knows!
Your Ancestry report is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and when it’s finished, it’s you! I could have easily put that picturetogether based solely on the foods I love the most: Greek food. Mediterranean food. Italian pastries. Scones, shortbread, and tea. Or, my all time favorite – an “everything” bagel with cream cheese, lox, red onion, tomato and capers with a wedge of lemon. And a cup of strong coffee.
But for tonight I think I’ll pick up some brisket and make another batch of potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce. Hanukkah isn’t over yet!
Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year! May this season be Merry and Bright, and may everything you eat be a delight! May we be grateful for our good fortune, and help those who are less fortunate. And let’s remember, we don’t need to be close…. to be close. Stay safe my loves!
I learned a long time ago that if you look, you can always find something to be grateful for. These days, we don’t have to look far at all. A roof over our head and food in our pantry. Health, both our own and that of our loved ones – be they near or far this year. And a couple of extra dollars to donate to the local food bank.
And gratitude for friendships.
Thank you all for being here – or out there in the Ethernet. Thank you for your comments, for your advice, support, for sharing this blog, and for reading; giving me some of your time. Wishing you a delicious Thanksgiving!
I’ve hesitated to write this because I’ve been extremely ill (feeling as if I’m in survival mode) for a couple of months, and I like to share good news that focuses on the bright side of life.
My mother always told my sisters, and me, to never air our “dirty laundry in public,” and by that she meant sharing secrets. But one persons dirty little secret may just be another person’s revelation!
I thought I was fully recovered from last year’s strokes, that they were a blip on the radar, then everything fell apart at the end of July. I went to the hospital again because of stroke symptoms, extremely high blood pressure, and arrhythmia. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, my sweetie dropped me off at the ER entrance and waved goodbye. Everything afterwards felt like I’d walked onto a movie set… It is odd being hospitalized in a dim and silent place. There was no hustle and bustle, with only a handful of emergency patients (myself included) for the mask-and-shield-clad nursing staff to care for. One night they played “Taps” over the loud speaker. The staff in the hallway froze in place. Intuitively I knew what had happened: a Veteran had passed away. I sat alone in my bed, hand over my heart and sobbed. Four days later, I went home.
These past twelve weeks have been spent adjusting to a new medicine routine and weekly virtual visits with all of my doctors, old and new. I’ve also had a LinQ heart monitor implanted in my chest right above my heart. It still hurts and makes we want to vomit when I think about it too much. It caused an auto-immune reaction, and I’ve been working to calm the resulting Fibromyalgia flare-up.
And rather than tell anyone about this, I’ve been crying it out in therapy.
My dirty laundry, the secret I’ve hidden, is that in November 2002 I had breast implants. After researching them, I chose the “new, improved, saline-filled, safe kind.”. My clothes fit beautifully. I felt womanly. It was the best birthday present to myself, ever. Or so I thought.
But, with my new breasts came insomnia, as if someone had flipped a switch, and weeks later, wired, exhausted, and almost hysterical, I was prescribed Ambien to sleep. A few years later I came down with flu-like symptoms, a UTI, intense kidney pain and gout-like symptoms. My feet and hands swelled so badly that I feared I’d never be able to wear my new engagement ring again. My Internist was shocked and immediately referred me to a kidney specialist and a rheumatologist for help. Thus it began. More illnesses, more doctors, more diagnoses.
Overcoming a laundry-list of chronic disorders became my “hero’s journey,” the years spent working my way back toward good health. I wrote the book, “Sick and Tired & Sexy… Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness,” about what I learned, the changes I made to my lifestyle, and the mindfulness practices that anchored my recovery. I felt that I had reclaimed my life… and it has been good for the better part of the last five years.
Then things went off the rails with the strokes, a TIA, and heart problems last April. I believed everything seemed well-managed again. I’d been doing everything right, and yet here I was back in the hospital. Why was this happening again?
A month or so ago I serendipitously discovered a group called Healing Breast Implant Illness . After reading the information, I immediately joined their group on Facebook “Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole.” Thousands and thousands of women have banded together to support each other by sharing their journey!
It had never, not even once, occurred to me that my breast implants were making me ill.
After researching everything – and I mean everything – about BII (Breast Implant Illness) I realized that I cannot recover when my body is constantly fighting the toxicity caused by the silicone in the implants. There is hard evidence that mixed-connective-tissue disorder and a rare type of lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) a cancer, have finally been linked to implants by the FDA. The latter resulted in an Allergan textured implant being recalled. Another problem is that this isn’t just happening to women like me, who did it for vanity… but also to women who have chosen implants for reconstruction after mastectomies for breast cancer!
People Magazine featured an article on Breast Implant Illness in its October 6th issue. The Doctors did an episode on BII. It’s all beginning to come out in public now.
Heart problems, blood-pressure problems, neurologic issues, kidney problems, sudden food allergies and intolerances, neck and shoulder pain, unexplained skin rashes, insomnia, thyroid problems, Sjogren’s Sydrome, chronic fatigue, connective-tissue disorders, Lupus, RA, Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s, panic attacks, anxiety, and feeling like you are dying are all common complaints from the 127,000+women in the group. And this is only a partial list.
“What I thought would make me feel better about myself [turned out to be] the gateway to Hell.”
Member of Breast Implant Illness group.
It’s good to know that how I feel isn’t indicative of a slow and unmanageable decline… my body is screaming to be heard. Healing will involve an Explant, a surgery much more complicated and specialized than getting the implants was. I’ve been speaking to all of my doctors, had an explant surgery consultation, and have another surgeon to interview.
I read a study just days ago that stated that 80% of the 700+ women involved in it felt better immediately after their explant, and their health continued to improve as months went by. That is very good news! The surgery is a risk, and an expense uncovered by insurance that I am willing to take. I love myself enough to know that good health is way sexier than boobs.
If you know of anyone with implants who is ill, please share this post with them. If you know anyone considering implants, please share this with them. If you have any questions for me, I’ll be more than happy to share any and all of my research and experience.
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
It is challenging not to feel the pressure of everything that is going on these days, and last week was a toughie for everyone I spoke to. And that was before the death of one of my heroines, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I don’t need to tell you about her, there’s plenty written already. I am excited to learn more: I just ordered a book from Amazon, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg: A Life.”
It is a constant challenge to control my thoughts… and I realize that they are the only thing I can control. Always and only, my thoughts and my actions.
We spoke about this in therapy group last week; letting go of things we cannot control. And for me, that includes being fearful, which robs me of the beauty, joy, and loving kindness still available in the world and in mankind. So, to counter feeling like I have no control, I do what I can: I tell people I love them. I write a check to the Food Bank. And I donate to PBS which has been a lifesaver for me during this time, and was a joy when I was raising my son.
And I read the Desiderata. I hope that it brings you some peace, too.
One of the sweetest things about our getaway last week was seeing the bunnies scurrying everywhere in New Mexico. They’re way too fast to get a photo of them – all you see is their little bunny-butts and fluffy tails!
Sick of being cooped up, sick of all of my doctor appointments, and sick of this blasted 100+ degree heat – we decided to take a road trip, and went to visit friends who live in Madrid, NM, (above) an arts community just outside of Santa Fe.
It’s been almost two years since we last saw them. We knew we could safely visit them and catch up, so we loaded our SUV, left early in the morning, and arrived at their doorstep just in time for Happy Hour!
Our plan was to spend a couple of nights at their oasis in the desert hills – then three nights at a newly built AirBnB close to downtown, which had the added benefit of a little café downstairs!
The next morning the guys left early on motorcycles to ride to Taos, and Denise and I decided to walk around town, then go into Santa Fe for lunch. Shockingly, it was almost as hot here as in Texas! Madrid had more visitors than I’d expected; people from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, especially motorcyclists, were looking for someplace to go for a drive.
New Mexicans are strictly adhering to a “masks everywhere policy,” and nobody was rebelling or complaining, people kept a respectful distance from each other, and everyone seemed happy and patient, which was refreshing. Most shops were open and lots of people strolled from place to place visiting.
It was a different story when we went to Canyon Road in Santa Fe later. The restaurants were all closed, except for the very few that have outdoor dining. We’d planned lunch at The Teahouse, a “quaint haunt with an eclectic menu,” but it was closed that afternoon. We headed instead to The Compound, a restaurant whose chef/owner won the James Beard Foundation award. Saying that our lunch, eaten in the patio below, was fantastic is a complete understatement!
After lunch we peeked in a few windows and discovered some stunning heads made out of fired clay bricks. There were very few tourists anywhere on Canyon Road, (which is the Yellow Brick Road of galleries). It is the first time I have ever seen it so quiet, or felt the heat here be so oppressive.
The next day Denise worked, so we wandered over to look at the work of sculptor and painter Jill Schwaiko. Link (here)
I find her work to be vividly spiritual. In the courtyard behind the gallery I found this beautiful old door.
It was time to head into town to check-in to our AirBnB rooms. Our suite was in a small complex built in an up-and-coming area, upstairs above lovely gardens and a restaurant. We planned to relax, stroll the Plaza, and go to the O’Keeffe Museum, but so much was closed. A bit disquieting, in and of itself, but there was also a large fire burning up on the mountain, which was making it very smoky and very hard to breathe. We walked to breakfast twice, very early while it was still cool, bunnies scurrying into the brush as we approached. We stayed in our rooms each afternoon out of the heat and smoke. Evenings we’d spend on our porch or down in the café gardens. I could live in this place!
“It was the best of times… it was the worst of times.” In spite of it all, we made the best of it.
We finally saw the “miraculous staircase” at the Loretto Chapel. This is only the second church I’ve been inside of in fifteen years (the other being the Notre Dame in Paris) and Loretto’s beauty didn’t disappoint. Built in 1873, it was modeled after the Saint Chappelle in Paris. The wooden staircase has two complete 360 degree turns with no supporting center pole! How the staircase was built, and by who, remains a mystery. There was no wait to get in, we got a Senior discount (LOL) and we were fortunate to be two of only eight masked guests there!
The night before leaving we drove into Madrid to say goodbye-for-now to our dear friends, and visited over appetizers and cocktails. It never feels long enough when we go to visit them, but it’s always great and I look forward to returning again very soon!
The best laid plans… I said I’d be writing more regularly last time, but the week after my post I was in the hospital again with stroke symptoms, arrhythmia, and shortness of breath. Sigh, just when I thought I was out of the woods.
I spent a few days there, having every conceivable test known to modern mankind, including checking for Covid-19, which may have been the worst one! I’ve been neurotically careful; mask and physical distancing when I must go out, so, of course it was negative.
The results: they think I’ve been having TIAs, perhaps because my blood pressure isn’t controlled enough by the meds I’m on. Perhaps because of one of my meds. Perhaps because some things are just unknowable. Bottom line: they don’t know what’s going on, so I was told to get off my hormone replacement therapy. Without the hormones I’m afraid I will feel like… well, Dorian Gray’s portrait hidden up in the attic.
I’ve always joked that you’d have to pry my hormone supplements out of my cold, dead hand… but sometimes it’s wise to stop and think, “Is this really the hill I want to die on?”
Speaking of old, I had the funniest conversation with my youngest sister, Elizabeth. I have a lovely silk spaghetti-strap top I bought last year and never wore. Now, I can’t see myself ever wearing it. I knew it would look great on her, so I sent a pic and asked if she liked it, telling her I’d feel like mutton dressed as lamb in it. Her response:
I’m sure most of this is in my head, because so far, I don’t feel bad at all except that I’m not sleeping. To counter this I’m maximizing foods that feed my brain and help handle depression, anxiety, insomnia and treat menopausal symptoms.
Like what? A Mediterranean-style diet, primarily of fruits, veggies, extra-virgin olive oil, real yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, Omega-rich seafood, whole grains, small portions of red meat, lean chicken and pork. The variety in this real-food diet provides our brain the nutrition it needs, regulates our inflammatory response, and supports the good bacteria in our gut.
Very often, what’s eating us… may be what we are, or aren’t, eating!
Speaking of good eats, our dear neighbor, Rich, loves to cook and brought me over a container of fresh Gazpacho. (I used to make Ina Garten’s recipe, but haven’t in years since my sweetie won’t eat cold soups.) It was absolutely delicious, and motivated me to make Anthony Bourdain’s Vichysoise to share, since I now had a fellow cold-soup enthusiast.
As a “thank you”, he gifted me one of Bourdain’s cookbooks given to him by a coworker he dislikes so much that just seeing the book on his shelf aggravated him. I’m still laughing over my good fortune!
I don’t know about the weather where you live, but it’s been hot as Hades here in Texas, so last night I made a batch of my creamy, cool zucchini soup. It’s easy as all get-out, delicious, and perfect for these inferno-like temps. I have been making this chilled soup every summer for at least 25 years. Try it, I know you’ll love it too.
Recipe: Three (3) medium-sized zucchini, sliced, and one (1) medium white or yellowonion, diced. Put in a sauce pan with three (3) cups of natural chickenbroth and simmer about 10-15 minutes till nice and tender. Let cool 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of plain Greekyogurt to the pan and stir. (I use whole milk yogurt for the richness, but use what you have). In two batches, whir in blender till smooth and creamy. Pour into large container and chill. Garnish with chives, parsley, a bit of fresh dill, spinach leaves, or some fresh black pepper. Bon apetit!
Howdy, y’all – is everyone hanging in there? Looking back on recent posts, I realized that I’ve only posted once a month lately. That’s such a difference from my old bi-monthly “bursting with new things to share.”
New make-up, skin care, or beat-the-heat beauty tips… I don’t have any to offer, and who really cares about that? Styling your outfits… heck, I’m not really going anywhere that requires outfits, are you?
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on myself… I’m not walking around looking like “the the Wreck of the Hesperus” nor living the grunge life! While it may take more energy than I have some days, I do shower, blow my hair dry (even gave myself a haircut this morning!) and put on eyebrows. Self-care is important… maybe more than you realize. Taking good care of myself helps keep me in the moment, in my body, and feeling valued.
These are the same reasons I make nectar and fill the hummingbird feeder, clean and refill the birdbath, and stand out in this heat to water my garden. Yes, it helps all of the birds, bees, and butterflies, and by helping them, I help myself stay grounded. Sane. Connected.
I’m sure that by now you, too, are beginning to realize that things aren’t “going back to normal.”
There are a lot of changes afoot, and many of them a long time coming. So, how best to deal?
By realizing that Change is the only constant there is. And by realizing that willingness to change, adaptability, is the key to living well.
Adapting helped me learn to live well with multiple chronic illnesses years ago, and to recover again after the strokes last year. When the pandemic began, I remember feeling bit smug, and “uniquely suited” to handle this new experience. Ninety percent of the time I can. I learned to manage my feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and patience while recovering from the stroke. I became familiar with new technology; using Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Duo to “see” my friends and family, have online doctor visits, and even do my group therapy online!
But, every once in a while I feel freaked out, sick, and off kilter – like everyone else. How can I make myself feel better?
I know I did it before… how can I do it now? To that end, I pulled out my book and re-read it to see how to apply what I’d written to these circumstances. Living Well 2.0 in the Time of Corona. Each chapter reminded me of ways to feel more present and less worried. This read-through, my favorite chapter is “There’s No Rut in Routine.”
Rumi said, “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”
My days begin by making my bed. First thing every day. I was surprised by how many friends poo-pooed it, but it felt important enough to me to include in my book and give it a chapter of its own. I felt validated in my bed-making habit when I heard Naval Admiral Wm. H. McRaven’s commencement speech to the 2014 graduating class at University of Texas, Austin.
A Navy SEAL for 36 years, McCraven offered this simple lesson and its importance to him: “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. It will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. And, if by chance you are having a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made, and it gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
I find that outer order gives me inner calm… and it is one of the few things I can control. If you don’t already, try making your bed daily for a week and see if it makes you feel better. If you do, pick another small task you’ve been avoiding, and give it your attention, then please let me know how it went in the comments. I love hearing from you all.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to accept the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Apropos of nothing, I awoke this morning humming the old tune, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” and thinking, “but first, I’d like to teach them to spell.”
This was probably because of a package of pencils with common grammar issues imprinted upon them! I’ve always jokingly (andperhapstastelessly) included myself among the GrammarNazis; those sticklers for knowing and using proper grammar and spelling.
Wrong use of words like “could of” rather than “could have,” and using “your,” when you mean to say “you’re,” (you are) in a sentence are like fingernails on a blackboard to me. You, too?
Speaking of, a darling friend in California who is also a stickler for good grammar sent me a pack of grammar police pencils as a gift, so I’m sure that accounts for part of my waking thoughts… but how that 1971 Coca Cola commercial worked its way into my consciousness, I’ll never know.
The world could definitely do with a bit of love and kindness right about now… maybe “sharing a Coke and a smile” would go a long way toward that?
Just as I sat down to finish this post, an old friend called to see how I was faring in these terrible, terrible times. Her words, not mine. “There’s nothing but bad news everywhere I look!” she said. After listening to her “awfulize” for a few more moments, and not wanting to lose my sunny buzz, I interrupted her (even though it was rude to do so) and told her that of course there was good news, I subscribe to a weekly newsletter full of good news from around the world. It took her a second to regroup. “Really?” she asked, incredulous.
I know that it can be very compelling to focus on everything that’s wrong and negative, but I also know that inspiration, motivation, and hopefulness can be found when we look for them. I was glad she called so that I could redirect her, remind myself, and share this with you.
Many of you know who David Byrnes is – the British-American singer, songwriter, and musician of Talking Heads fame. He is the founder of an aptly-named newsletter that thrills me every time it shows up in my inbox: Reasons to Be Cheerful. They call their project “tonic for tumultuous times,” and I’d have to agree. Here’s the link: http://reasonstobecheerful.world
I hope you will take a look and that you find it as uplifting as I do.
I’ve also been keeping my spirits up by exercising, and in the process I get to see my BFF regularly since Holly teaches Nia, a movement class “for every body.”
With the advent of the novel corona virus, her classes have now become available live on Facebook and are reaching everyone worldwide! I credit regular exercise for helping me recover from my stroke and it’s side-effects. Feeling ill last week, and consequently not exercising for 8 days, I’ve noticed some of the numbness and tingling have returned… so I’m back on track this week!
Nia classes with Holly
Exercise is proven to release “good chemicals” in our brain, lubricate our joints, boost our circulation, and increase our range of motion, and stamina… which ultimately lifts our spirits.
Holly’s online presence is just as wonderful as her live persona… she has a way of making her love of movement enjoyable and accessible to all. So many of the complaints people attribute to aging and illness are really just the result of a sedentary lifestyle. Since I’m no longer young, and I live with chronic health issues, I can’t begin to imagine how “old” I’d feel if I didn’t push the furniture aside and exercise regularly!
Plato said, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Cheers to kindness, a bit of exercise, and preserving a sunny attitude.
Trying new things can be either an exciting and rewarding learning experience, or fraught with anxiety if, like me, you hate to get it wrong.
I was raised by a “failure is not an option,” father. No learning curve allowed. I was expected to do everything right, right off the bat. Many parents, and some grandparents, mistakenly think that this attitude presses kids to do their best. But, pressure stifles a sense of wonder and experimentation, and diminishes the self-confidence necessary to try something repeatedly until you succeed. Often these feelings carry forward into adulthood.
These days I’m adhering to a new school of thought, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”
Fifty years later, after some therapy, and online access about how to do anything, PLUS a global pandemic… heck, “Time is on My Side.” I not buying into “can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” That’s just an excuse, not a fact. I have been trying lots of new things, straying from the comfort zone of the things I know how to do well, and having quite a few interesting outcomes!
Heavenly Blue morning glories.
First, I planted morning glories, and they took forever to sprout. Like a good Jewish Mother, I checked on them daily encouraging them to grow babies, grow. Only three out of the six seedlings made it, but they are strong and happy. I also planted a Shishito Pepper and some Thyme and Oregano in a big pot in the sun. I talk to them too, and they are all thriving! We ate my first handful of peppers sautéed with shrimp for dinner the other night.
Oregano, Thyme, Shishitos
Then, I had an applesauce cake FAIL. A familiar recipe, except that this time I used French flour that I ordered from Amazon. I’d heard that people who react badly to American wheat are able to tolerate this better. What I didn’t know is that without adjustments, it would come out so dense. How dense was it, Donna? It was as dense as an apple-scented fire log.
In it’s favor, it was beautiful.
After lots of research on why this happened, I learned that this type of flour (t45) is usually reserved for pastry and cookies. It’s lower gluten creates much less sponginess, and the fineness of the flour soaks up much more liquid than I could have imagined. The Gremlins won that round as I threw it in the trash.
Still a little bummed-out, I decided to try a new recipe for cornbread, since I’ve been making the same cornbread for 40 years. Although the recipe is from a cookbook I’ve enjoyed many things from, their cornbread was a disgusting failure. No idea why… absolutely none at all. Into the trash it went, too. Another win for the Gremlins.
Reluctant to waste any more hard-to-come-by ingredients, and trying to bolster my sagging ego, I pulled out a tattered Ina Garten corn muffin recipe that I’d scribbled on an envelope and carried around for years, but never baked. They were unequivocally the most delicious corn muffins I have ever eaten! They were perfect with a pot of chili for dinner, and still perfect when split, buttered, and toasted the next morning with my coffee.
Of course they’re delicious, they’re by Ina Garten!
Ina is one of two or three people on my “People I’d Love to Meet” list. When I was very ill years ago and couldn’t eat, could barely get off the couch, she was the bright spot in my day as I’d watch her cooking for her darling husband and friends. I would reminisce about my 25 years living on Long Island, too, and even driving around the beautiful town where she lives. I fantasized about being invited to her house to chat with her as she cooked, and afterward, eating a beautifully prepared meal with her .
(If any of you have connections to Ina, and can arrange it, I’m game!)
So, without any further ado, here is the recipe that gave me so much delight this week:
Ina’s Corn Muffins
Mix 3C flour, 1 C sugar, 1 C cornmeal, 2TBSP baking powder, 1.5 tsp. salt in large bowl.
Whisk 2 sticks butter, melted and cooled, 2 XL eggs, and 1.5 C milk together. Add wet to dry. Don’t overmix the batter, quick and easy does it.
Scoop into 12 lined muffin cups, bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 mins. Halves easily for 6 muffins.