Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Six hours of cooking...  Followed by fifteen minutes of eating...  Followed by an hour's worth of clean-up!

Does that about sum it up?!

Okay-kay-kay...  Just a quickie update - before the tryptophan kicks in and I gotta get all horizontal!

So, I'd mapped out my "Plan of Attack" yesterday, right?  And started my preparations...  To be honest, I basically printed up last year's post (for the recipes), and I pretty-much followed it to-the-letter, except my stuffing ended up a bit too wet and heavy, so I tossed in a third box of Stove-Top Stuffing Mix! (and when that proved to be a little too dry, I slopped in a little more low-sodium chicken broth and a couple TBS of pure maple syrup).  I ended up with two 8x8 cake-pans of stuffing (and it was Yum-Yum-YUMMY!).

Turkey went in the cooker around 11:30am and was supposed to take appx 3 hours...

Turkey and injection marinade - in the Big Easy basket

I injected the bird before I wrestled it into the basket.  Oh, and the turkey is sitting on two yams (which actually affected the cooking - turkey butt was a wee bit under-cooked, unfortunately - but nobody likes turkey butt anyway!).  Oh, I also rubbed the outside of the bird with Bell's Seasoning (the stuff in the little yellow box), and olive oil...

Bird in the cooker!

So yeah, it was supposed to take approximately 3 hours.  I made the mistake of putting the lid on the cooker for the first hour (and the lid reflects heat "down" into the cooker), then I went about my business.  Came back after the first hour and the bird was *very* brown!  And, in fact, the top thermometer was registering 180*.  Holy sh*t!

I removed the basket and dragged the bird into the house.  Used my digital thermometer on the thigh and it was ALSO registering 170* (meaning "It's done"), but when I removed the digital probe, the juice that came out of the bird was not clear - so back into the cooker (with a generous basting of the "extra" brine + chicken broth)...

So yeah, I assembled my stuffing, covered it and put it in the fridge.  Assembled my Green Bean Casserole...  (those two dishes took almost an hour to put together)  Then went and checked the bird again.  Verrrrrrry dark.  So the turkey came out at the 2-hour mark.  I brought it in, transferred it to a large disposable roaster pan and wrapped it in foil to rest...

Suddenly realized that I had run out of time (AND run out of steam!), so I figured we could skip the Gulliver's Creamed Corn (can have that for Christmas, right?!), and I put hubs in charge of the mashed potatoes while I put the casserole and one of the stuffing pans into the oven (375* - 20 mins + 15 mins for the green bean casserole; 15 mins for browning the stuffing).

I used drippings as a base for the gravy - after separating the fat.  Drippings + one jar + one can of store-bought turkey gravy (it actually was very good - and you could definitely taste the citrus from the drippings!).

Dinner was deeeeeeelish!  And I am stuffed!

And I can't take attractive pictures of dinner with my Droid
"Oh well!"

I had been "taste-testing" as I was cooking, so by the time everything was done - I really wasn't very hungry (Oops!).  Hubs had two servings though - so I think he liked it!

Ohhhhhh...  Then after we'd "digested," Hubs had his regular pumpkin pie, and I sliced into my low-sugar pie.  I've decided that my low-sugar pie is more accurately described as "Pumpkin Mousse Pie" and, as such, it is QUITE tasty.  It's really not cheese-cakey at all and definitely more Mousse-Like.  So I edited yesterday's post accordingly.............

Anyway, Thanksgiving was VERY nice (and ohhhhh soooo filling!).

Hope yours was awesome too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Recipe: Low-Sugar Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Okay...  Turkey is in the bag o' brine...

...And OMG it smelled *just* as delicious as I remembered it!

I have reserved half-a-cup of the concentrated brine to incorporate into my injection marinade and stuffing tomorrow!

PSA: 12# bird + brine just BARELY fit into a 2-1/2 gallon Ziplock Baggie - Anything larger would be impossible!  It DID fit into my steam-canner pot and everything is just kickin' back and chillin' in the fridge tonight...

I also decided to tackle my Faux-Pumpkin Wannabee Pie.  I did buy a regular pumpkin pie for hubs, from the Snob Hill Bakery.  But I wanted something lower in sugar for me.

Google wasn't forthcoming when I keyed in my main ingredients (Sugar-Free Cheesecake-Flavored Jello Pudding and Canned Pumpkin), so I was on my own!  Here is what I came up with, and I'll report back later on the Final-Final Taste Test...

QT's Low-Sugar No-Cook Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding Pie (Boy, that's a mouthful, eh?!)

Edit: QT's Low-Sugar No-Cook Pumpkin Mousse Pie (more accurate!)

Yield one 9" pie (with about a bowlful of Jello leftover)

  • 1 pre-made 9" graham cracker crust (Okay, not exactly low-carb - but I wasn't in the mood to crush almonds/pecans to make a truly low-sugar crust)
  • 1 small box (1 oz / serves 4) Sugar-Free Jello Cheesecake-flavored pudding
  • 15-16 oz of canned pumpkin (NOT pre-sweetened pie-filling - just plain cooked pumpkin)
  • 8 oz of softened cream cheese (I used Neufchatel "1/3 less fat" cream cheese)
  • 1-1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 heaping TBS Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
  • Several shakes of Pumpkin Pie Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)

  1. If desired, you can "toast" your graham cracker crust in a preheated 375* oven for appx 5 mins (I toasted mine).
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cheesecake pudding mix with your cream and water. Whisk until well-blended.
  3. Fold in your softened cream cheese and canned pumpkin.  You'll need a bona-fide hand mixer for this (my immersion blender squealed in protest!).  
  4. Add in the brown sugar blend and start adding spices.  You'll want to taste-test it as you go along.  I think I ended up using 3-4 TBS of the Pumpkin Pie Spice blend.
  5. Mix thoroughly (I'd say appx 5 minutes worth at medium speed).
  6. Once your crust has cooled, spoon the pudding mixture into the pie-crust.  Smooth the top an sprinkle with more pumpkin-pie spice.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving...
Crappy Droid Pic!  Again! :-)

I just nibbled a spoonful from the "extra" bowl of pumpkin pie guts.  It's "interesting!"  It's got a pudding consistency and a pumpkin-spicy flavor.  It's not exactly pudding, nor is it cheesecake, nor is it pumpkin pie (which is more custardy, I know).  But it is an interesting mash-up of flavors... (Edit: It's more "mousse-y than cheese-cakey or custard-y!) (It's good, k?!)

To be honest, I am probably gonna be so stuffed with turkey that the dessert isn't gonna matter anyway.  But at least I can  get a smidge of pumpkin in a somewhat-guilt-free way, right?!

Anyhoooo...  My Turkey Day Prep is complete - for today.  Tomorrow is when the REAL madness begins!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :-)


P.S. Unrelated to anything - but I saw it posted on Facebook (Raw Food Rehab's page) and thought it looked like something cool to try someday...

Vegan Turkey Platter!
(Gotta love it)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pre-Turkey-Day Ramblings...

Rampant Rambling Ahead (You have been warned!)................

Oh me, oh my!  Where DID the time go???

Thanksgiving is upon us and - O' woe is me! - my friggin' feet are a MESS!!!  I'd gotten an email from The Mountain Winery, advertising their Thanksgiving Buffet (for $70.00 per-person).  I actually seriously considered suggesting it - but then I realized that Hubs (on the road, yet again!) probably would prefer a Home-Cooked Meal.  I just hope my feet let me stand-up long enough to pull it off!

So yeah, gonna do another Organic, Range-Raised, Birkenstock-Wearing, Granola-Eating, Prius-Driving Natural Turkey.  Headed over to Snob Hill Foods and looked for another Diestel Turkey Breast - to no avail.  They only carried whole birds (and I didn't want to tackle Whole Foods - this close to Thanksgiving!)  (Nob Hill on the Monday before T-Day was bad enough!).  So I got a 12# whole bird.  Lotsa food for the two of us (which means TONS of leftovers - yummm!!)

I've gotten the propane jug refilled, and I've dragged out my Big Easy Turkey Cooker (Love-Love-Love my Big Easy - because it *totally* frees-up my kitchen - Yay!).

(And no, nobody "gave me anything" nor do I get any linky-$$ for posting the link.  I legitimately Love-Love-Love my Big Easy!)

Now I'm running through all of my recipes from Turkey Days' Past and deciding what we're gonna have this year.

I think I'm sticking with last year's rub recipe (Pioneer Woman's original here).  That brine is simply indescribable in it's deliciousness! (It's AMAZING and totally worth the extra work!)  And it "carries over" nicely into the injection marinade AND stuffing!

Soooo...  Brining will begin tomorrow!  I've got 2.5 gallon ziplock baggies and I think I can use the big-pot from my steam canner for "containing" everything during the brining process.

Side dishes:  

Classic Green Bean Casserole but I think I'll be adding freshly cooked bacon ("Mmmm  Bacon!").  And probably cheddar cheese.  There are about 800-jillion variants on Green Bean Casserole. Google away!

Annnnnd... Of COURSE! We'll be having Gulliver's Creamed Corn (Orgasmic!).

Mashed 'taters.  Hubs *insists* on fresh mashed 'taters, so I think I'll put HIM in charge of those!

Baked Sweet Potatoes (with butter, brown-sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon/nutmeg):  Hubs didn't care for 'em, but I think I'm gonna toss a couple of yams in the Cooker with the bird.  If they cook-up nicely - great!  If not - "Oh well!"

Stuffing: Duhhhh!  With freshly cooked breakfast sausage (NOT from Spreckles though :::GASP:::), and maple syrup, and chopped pecans and Craisins.  I'm pretty-much just going to duplicate last year's stuffing (Cheater-style with Stove-Top Stuffing Mix, finished-off in the oven).

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (Yes - I'm a cheater!!!) (But they're "traditional" right?!!)

Cranapple Jam - which tastes like Cranberry Sauce - only better (but I also bought a can of whole-berry-style sauce, too - for hubs)

Gravy:  I've found that pan-drippings are minimal with the Big Easy, but I'll scrape-up what I can...  Most likely, the majority of the gravy will come from a jar (Eeeek!) with giblets and assorted accoutrements thrown-in.......


I bought a pumpkin pie from the Snob Hill Bakery, and I'm also gonna try experimenting with canned pumpkin and sugar-free "Cheesecake" flavored pudding mix.  No clue WHAT'S gonna happen there, but I really do want something nearly-carbohydrate-free for dessert (for me).  And if it turns out good, I'll post a recipe!  Deal?!

So today I'm trying to map out my "Plan of Attack" for T-Giving...

Tomorrow, I'll begin brining the bird, and I'll reserve some of the brine for the injection marinade and stuffing.  I'll probably also make my pumpkin/cheesecake-whatever, and hope it refrigerates overnight, okay...

Thursday morning: Inject the bird, let it rest for an hour, then cook the turkey and sweet 'taters in the Big Easy.  That'll probably take a couple-three hours...

Set the table (so I don't have to worry about it later!)

Maybe an hour after plopping the bird in the cooker, I'll start assembling the Green Bean Casserole and Stuffing.  GB Casserole will go in a casserole dish; stuffing will go into 8x8 disposable cake pans, and they can hang-out in the fridge 'til showtime.  They'll both go in a 350* oven for appx 30 minutes (just before the bird comes out of the cooker).

The rest of the stuff is "Stove-Top" - peel, chop, boil the russets in salted water; The Gulliver's Creamed Corn is also a stove-top creation (Ridiculously easy to prepare, actually), as is the gravy...  So, really, the last 30 minutes (while the bird is resting) will be the crazy-busy time

So yeah...  I think I've got a Game-Plan for Turkey Day!  Honestly, I really DO enjoy cooking Thanksgiving.  In fact, when I lived on the boat, I really couldn't "cook" at all (I had a mini-microwave oven, and a 2-burner plug-in cooktop) (and I could only operate ONE electrical item at a time - srsly!), so every T-Giving, I would descend upon my mom's house and banish everyone from the kitchen so I could get my "Cooking Jones" out of my system for one year!

So yeah, I do enjoy cooking.  I just hope my hands and feet (which are flaring miserably right now) will let me make it thru the day!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Spreckles: The Other White Meat

Okay...  Spreckles is in the oven!

Unfortunately, I discovered that Freedom Meats (love 'em dearly - don't get me wrong!) doesn't shrink-wrap the individual meat portions.  The sausages and hams were shrink-wrapped, but the chops were wrapped (2 per pkg) in butcher paper.

Soooooo...  That means I have to "Plan Ahead" now!  Perilous Territory, folks...  I can barely see past the tip of my nose, most of the time.  And just because something sounds good in the morning - doesn't necessarily mean I'm gonna WANT THAT (or have the energy to prepare it), when evening rolls around.

Yeah, I know.  Sucks to be me.

Gotta decide in the morning (or worse: A day or two in advance!) if I want to defrost dinner "properly." That's what I like about Omaha Steaks, actually.  You just open the freezer, decide 'hmm, a sirloin sounds good,' pop that shrink-wrapped hunk o' goodness in a sink full of cold water and half an hour later, you're Good-To-Go to fire-up the grill!  (OTOH, I'm pretty sure Omaha Steaks aren't open-range raised, nor sprinkled with Pixie Dust.  They're probably factory-farmed, knee-deep-in-sh*t, feedlot steaks - something I am SLOWLY try to move away from, k?! Baby steps!)

Annnnnyyyyhooooooo...  I consulted Google to find a suitable pork chop recipe.  I wanted to "Keep It Simple, Stupid."  I also wanted to minimize the amount of sauces/seasonings/fancy-shmantzy-sh*t because I want to TASTE the Goodness that is Spreckles!

Here is the recipe I followed - pretty-much/almost to the letter (:::GASP:::).

Okay-okay, I futzed around with it a TEENY bit!

Spreckle's Debut: Baked, Glazed Pork Chops
Yields 4 pork chops


  • 4 pork chops (mine are bone-in, medium thickness)
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup with Roasted Garlic (Campbell's)
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 lb fresh white mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Generous sprinkling of onion powder
  • Light sprinkling of garlic powder 
  • Light sprinkling of celery salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup Marsala wine (the regular stuff, not salted cooking wine)
  • 1/2 cup Crema Casera or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • French-fried onions (appx 1/2 - 1 cup)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375*
  2. Coarsely chop your onions, celery and mushrooms. Finely mince your garlic. Set aside.
  3. Season your chops with garlic powder (a little), onion powder (lots!), celery salt (medium amt), and pepper (your preference!).
  4. Heat a medium saucepan with a little olive oil and butter and saute 1 clove of garlic, your onions and celery on medium heat.  Stir and add a little salt. Cook until the veggies are limp and translucent.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Heat a large skillet with appx 1/2 TBS butter and 1/2 TBS olive oil.  Add one clove of minced garlic and - once it's hot (but before the butter burns), add you chops to sear them.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until brown on the outside (appx 10 mins).  Set the chops on a plate.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Cook on medium low, scraping up all the crusty goodness in the pan.  Continue cooking and stirring 'til it thickens slightly and becomes a runny glaze.
  7. Return the chops to the pan, increase heat to medium and turn the chops several times until covered nicely with the glaze (maybe another 5 minutes?  I didn't count!).  Then remove the chops and place 'em in a casserole dish (I think mine is a 1-1/2 quart).
  8. Next: Dump your cream of garlic/mushroom soup into your skillet and blend it with the remaining glaze.  Add water and cream and mix some more.  Add your chopped mushrooms and your pre-sauteed celery/onion mix.  Cook on medium-low for maybe 5 minutes (you just want to warm it up).
  9. Pour the soupy glazy veggie-y mix over your chops in the casserole dish.  Turn the chops so they get completely coated and buried in the sauce.
  10. Cook, uncovered, for appx 45 minutes.  Everything should be nice and bubbly (but the topside veggies might be a little crispy).  Remove the casserole dish, stir it up a little (get the crispy top-stuff incorporated into the gravy).  Add a couple handfuls of French-Fried Onions and return to the oven for 10 minutes 'til the FF onions are brown and crispy.
Annnnndddd...  Spreckles is now OUT of the oven - and in our bellehs!

Yeah, Crappy Droid Pic - I was *hungry* dammit!

Spreckles was tender and delicious!  I served her with mashed potatoes (using the sauce as gravy), mixed veggies and "baked" apples (actually nuked apple spice mixture that didn't make it into yesterday's pie!).

Hubbie agreed, Spreckles is, indeed, a Very Good Pig!  Waaaay better than grocery-store pork!  Tender and lean.  In fact, I'll make sure I post a picture of the BACON (Mmmm!  Bacon!) whenever I pull it out of the freezer.  Hardly ANY fat!

While Spreckles was in the oven, I Googled a bit further and discovered that you can pretty much type in "Pork" + [Any Kind of Fruit] and find a recipe!  And I have a garage FULL of various fruit jams and - did I happen to mention - a freaking FREEZER full of piggie?!

So yeah, I think I may have found a use for some of those jams I put-up all summer, hmmm?!  In fact, I think that THIS recipe might actually be a good "launching point" for other creations.  Start with the same base ingredients (tweaking, as necessary), and maybe swap out the type of wine to better accompany some kinda fruity-jammy sauce.  Say apricot jam and apricot brandy (instead of Marsala wine)...???  Yep, sounds like there might be some Experimentation in my future (Eeeeek!).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Damn this Crappy Weather!! (Plus Low-Sugar Apple Pie) (And Pig-Tale Link!)


Summer Weather is GONE (but I soaked-up literally every last minute of it!!!)

Am I ready for winter?  Oh HELL no!  But Rent-A-Son Services is (hopefully) coming over this weekend to help me "put the yard away."

How 'bout all those other Wild-@ss Ideas you've been yammering about?!

Is Laundry caught-up?

Green Tomato Relish?  Uhhhmmm, no! But the tomatoes *did* ripen - all on their own even! - so I might still whip out one more batch o' Tomato Bisque.

Cranberry Apple Chutney?  Still have the ingredients - but no, I haven't made it yet.

How 'bout that Apple Pie?

Apples - mostly from my tree, but some are from the Farm-Share

As a matter of fact...  I DID bake a pie today (Yay!!!)

Funny thing, those apples...  I planted an espaliered grafted tree with 6 different varieties of apples, several years ago.  Lost the individual "tags" the first year (so I have NO clue which variety is what).  Then we built the greenhouse directly in front of the tree and I always FORGET that there are apples to harvest (Ooooops!).  As usual, most ended up rotting on the ground, but I did harvest a sizable basket's worth (Yay me!)...

Soooo I Googled a bit, and made a mental note of all the necessary ingredients, and this is what I came up with:

QT's Low-Sugar Apple Pie
Yields 1 @ 9" deep-dish pie

  • 8 cups peeled, cored apples (assorted varieties) (~3 lbs)
  • 2 TBS lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • 3/4 cup C&H Light (50/50 Cane Sugar and Stevia)
  • 2 heaping TBS Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour (I think I might bump that up to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg-white
  • 2 pie crusts suitable for a 9" deep-dish pie
  • 1-2 TBS butter
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425* and pull your crusts out to thaw (if you're a cheater like me!)
  2. Whip out the W-A-D - or you can peel/core the Old Fashioned Way (I love my Peeler/Corer Gizmo)
  3. Chop the apples into apple-pie sized chunks and toss 'em in a bowl, sprinkling lemon juice as you go (to keep 'em from browning).  Keep peeling/coring/chopping apples 'til you have appx 8 cups.
  4. Add your sweeteners, spices and flour to the chopped apples and toss 'til everything is covered.
  5. Fill the bottom crust with sweetened apple spice mixture.  It's okay to heap the fruit up to appx 1" above the crust edge (the apples will shrink during cooking).
  6. Put a few blorps of butter on top of the fruit.  
  7. Dampen the edges of the crust with a wet finger.  Add your top crust, cut off any excess and pinch the two crusts together.
  8. Mix the egg-white with a little water and brush the top crust lightly (so you get a nice shiny crust).  Optional: Add coarse granulated sugar crystals.
  9. Cut vent holes/slits in the top crust
  10. Place pie in your pre-heated oven.  Be smart and put a foil-lined big-pan underneath it (it will gooze a bit!).
  11. Cook for 10 minutes @ 425*, then reduce heat to 375* and continue to cook for appx 30-45 minutes or until golden brown (I was using my convection oven and it took a lot longer than anticipated)
Pie is delectably delicious - although a bit runny (and therefore not photo-worthy!)

In other News (Random Rambliness!):

Project Pork:  I have a full freezer!  And Finny has posted the Final-Final Piggy Update here - including pictures of Spreckles and her SCARY-NEAT Chestie Freezer (No, I will *not* be posting pictures of OUR freezer!).  We still haven't sampled Spreckles - but I found a tasty-looking glazed pork chop recipe that I am eager to try...  Maybe tomorrow - and if it's tasty, I'll share!

Psoriasis Woes: Have returned with a vengeance.  Not sure what to attribute that to (Unfortunately, that blows my theory of cannabis-based topicals being a panacea), but I'm back to using steroid creams (Hate 'em!), and still take Humira (Abso-f**king-lutely DETEST that sh*t!).  I'm actually pretty convinced that "what I've got" is far more insidious than "just" psoriasis (and "just" diabetes).  I think there is something hormonal and/or metabolic at work here - and some of my Googling leads me to believe that my theory MAY pan out.

I'm going to see my endocrinologist in a couple of weeks.  Of all of my doctors, she is the ONLY one I can have an intelligent dialogue with, and I'm "pretty sure" she'd be open to discussing it further and exploring other options (although her initial response - when I first brought up my skin woes - was to refer me to a dermatologist).  I need to research this further, but I want her to order any and all tests that MIGHT help get to the root of this because I am SICK TO DEATH of being a freaking invalid! (Srsly!  I'm back to walking with a cane! Sh*t F*ck P*ss!).

Ceramic Artistry:  I did manage to crank out a few more pieces, and most of my Christmas Crap is well underway, and I squoze-in a couple more firings (still wanna do 1-2 more firings in the next week).  My company had a Holiday Bazaar up in Pleasanton, earlier this week, and P and I shared a table.  I sold appx $80 worth of stuff (Yay!), but had to put $71.00 into Willie's Gas Tank afterward (Wahh-Wahh-WAAHHHHHH!).  Still, it was fun to go into the office and see my buddies - AND sell some of my "stuff!"

Holiday Bazaar @ Work

Glass Artistry:  Going to BAGI again tomorrow - this time to make a glass bowl.  Hopefully I can post some cool pictures.  And I want to sign up for their "Make A Snowman Ornament" class - just for grins...  I like their one-off classes where you sign-up to "Make A [Whatever]."  I'm not "into" glass to the point where I'd want to fork over the $$ for classes and renting Hot-Shop Time - but I do enjoy creating the individual projects (let's see, so far I've made a paperweight, a flower, a heart, and a teardrop-shaped ornament).

Okay, well, that's about all the news that's fit to print.  Rambly? Yes - but if you made it this far: "Thanks!!!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Damn this nice weather!!! (Plus French Dip Sandwiches)

No.  Not really!!!  I freaking LOVE it!  But it is totally cutting down on my Kitchen-Witchery/Creativity/Indoor-Chores/Ceramic Artistry!!!

Yeah, I picked a boatload of green tomatoes, and still have a handful of "colored" nearly-usable tomatoes...  My PLAN was to make a soup from the roasted colored tomatoes (plus carrots, plus onions, plus garlic, plus a big ol' honkin' fennel-root I got from the farm-share).  But - truth be told - as long as it's Sunny and Nice outside - to HELL with the kitchen, right?!!

I also have a FULL basket of greenie 'maters which are destined to become Farm-Girl's Green Tomato Relish at some point (unless they manage to ripen, in the meantime!).  Oh, crap!  I just realized that I don't have any fresh cilantro so...  Must go back to the store :::sigh:::

Then I ALSO wanted to make a fresh, home-grown apple pie.  But the apples will be fine for another week or so.  Annnnd...  I'm still contemplating Cranberry Apple Chutney...  Again, the core-ingredients will keep!

I've got a metric ton o' laundry piled up in the garage (Ooooops!), and - as long as it's sunny/warm out - I have ZERO motivation to do anything about it!  In fact, I even left the clean dishes in the dishwasher LONG ENOUGH for Hubs to feel compelled to empty it ("Thanks, Darling!!!").

Ditto the "Works in Progress" in the Tiki Shack/Ceramic Studio!

Yep.  The place is completely going to hell in a handbasket - and I don't freaking care!  Temps outside are in the mid-80's -- IN NOVEMBER?!!  Damn Skippy I'm gonna sit my butt outside at the Tiki Bar!!! (I even let WORK fall to the wayside today.  BAD, BAD QT!!!)

Well, the weather prognosticators are calling for a "Cooling Trend" starting tomorrow (including something called  ...  Starts with an 'R' I think ...  "Rah-een?!").  They're calling for "rain" starting tomorrow afternoon ("NNNNOOOOOO!!!!!").  Honestly, given how ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS today is, it is damned difficult to believe that tomorrow is gonna be Suck-Tastic!  So I am embracing my Inner Cleopatra and sticking with my beloved State of De-Nile!

I fully intend to soak-up EVERY AVAILABLE MINUTE of Nice Weather, dammit!!!  Because the Dark, Dreary Days of Winter will be upon us in NO TIME!!! (Let the whining commence, right?!!).

So, today's nod to Domesticity DID include a Crock-Pot French-Dip Sandwich Recipe.  I started with this recipe and wandered off-path (Really?!!).

QT's Crock-Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Yields - appx 6-8 sandwiches


  • 3-4 lb Sirloin Roast
  • 1 medium-to-large fresh onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 @ ~10 oz can of Beef Broth
  • 1 @ ~10 oz can of French Onion Soup (condensed - do not add more water)
  • 1 @ 12oz. can or bottle of beer (I used Gordon Biersch Märzen)
  • 1 envelope Swanson Beef Flavor Boost
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Generous sprinkling of Prime Rib Seasoning (I used this - you can use whatever you like)
  • 6-8 sourdough rolls + butter
  1. Cut off any excess fat, if your roast is at all fatty (mine wasn't).
  2. You may, or may not, choose to marinade your meat before cooking (I chose not to.  Had I chosen to marinade it, I would have used McCormick/Grill-Mates Montreal Steak Marinade).
  3. Thinly slice an onion, and place it in the bottom of your crock pot (mine is a 5 qt "oblong" model).
  4. Coarsely chop two cloves of garlic and place on top of the onion slices
  5. Coat the roast with a light sprinkling of Prime Rib Seasoning (or skip the seasoning, if you chose to marinade instead).  Place the roast on top of the onions/garlic
  6. Pour in two cans of soup:  Beef Broth and French Onion
  7. Top it off with 1 can or bottle of beer.
  8. Add thyme and bay leaf.
  9. Cook on "low" for 7-8 hours.
  10. Remove the roast and confirm done-ness
  11. Remove the broth mixture.  If the onions/garlic haven't completely dissolved, you might want to hit it with an immersion blender to make a smooth au jus.  
  12. If it seems too salty, add some sweetener (Splenda or sugar)
Sandwich Prep:
  1. You can either pre-heat your oven to 350* or just use a toaster-oven (I went for the toaster oven!).
  2. Butter your sourdough rolls and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes (or Toaster Oven for however long!).
  3. Ladle a scoopful of au jus to one half of the sourdough roll...
  4. Thinly slice the beef and pile it onto the roll
  5. Serve warm with a bowl-full of au jus for dipping
  6. ENJOY!!!
If I end up with anything photo-worthy, I'll update this post later (Right now, the roast is still in the crock-pot and none-too attractive!).

Okay, here's a photo-worthy pic of dinner:

Confirmed: "Yummm!!!"

In Other News:

I went to see the dermatologist today and - no surprise - she attributes my "Huge Improvement" to the Humira.  I certainly couldn't DENY that there has been a huge improvement - since my last visit.  I have actually been GLOVE-FREE for three days now.  And I am up to day #81 of being able to WALK.  I'll definitely "Take it!"

But...  What I find "interesting" is the fact that I have been on Humira since Sept 13, with no real "dramatic" improvements.  However, since I started my topical ointments - with Medical Cannabis - I actually did SEE a dramatic improvement - in a matter of DAYS!  Seriously!!!

Yes, it absolutely COULD be "coincidental" and yes, the Humira MAY HAVE decided to "kick-in" at the same time, right?!  

So...  I did do the "full disclosure" thing to the doc and admitted that I had decided to try "Cannabis Alternatives" to her treatment regimen.  Surprisingly, she did not go off the deep-end with that revelation, but (not so surprisingly) she DID choose to believe that it was the Humira "doing the job" and, in fact, she went on to suggest that I give Humira AT LEAST three months - preferably SIX months - before I consider stopping it.

Additional Food For Thought:  Evidently, if you choose to "stop Humira" and then re-start it later, you *might* not achieve the same results...  Hmmmm....

So, when I suggested that I wanted to experiment further with this, she didn't disagree - but she definitely voted AGAINST stopping the Humira.  If anything, maybe I should try continuing my Cannabis Regimen on ONE SIDE of my body, and stick with "traditional treatments" (Steroid Creams) on the other side...

That seems reasonable enough, I suppose...

The part that killed me was when she suggested that, maybe, the Cannabis treatment was giving me a "Placebo Effect."  Uhhhmmm, NO!  If I were gonna achieve a "Placebo Effect" on anything, it would've been my own home-made lotions, thankyouverymuch!!!  I have (ALMOST) no doubt that the cannabis IS helping.  And I absolutely DO intend to continue "experimenting" with it.  In fact, I think I'll brew up another batch of home-made hard-lotion(s) using hash-oil (or, ideally, CBD oil - if I can find it!).  I do NOT get "high" from topical medications.  And - even the small qty of "Indica" I use, nightly - for sleep, does NOT get me "high."  It just knocks me out (and STOPS the friggin' itching!!!).

No.  I don't think that the recent improvements with my skin-condition are related to "Placebo Effect" - I absolutely DO think that there is "something" to this cannabis-as-a-valid-medical-treatment idea!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

'Mater Murderess and Other Garden Stuff

So today is November 4th and I harvested three salvageably-ripe Kellogg's Breakfast 'Maters and one pale Early Girl.

I can't say that's a Record-Breaker for me (I know I've found 'maters as late as December and early as February - in years' past), but all-told, I have to say "Not Bad!"

There are definitely worse things than harvesting fresh, home-grown maters in November, right?

(Even those that are destined to be Green Tomato Relish!)

I pulled the greenies off today...  Because...

It's time to say "Adios" to the Tomato Beds.

Today is turning into a simply lovely day - possible record-breaker with temps creeping into the low 80's (AWESOME!).  But nighttime temps are definitely dipping into the 40's so the maters are essentially "Done."  Plus, there were white-flies galore.  Yep, definitely time to rip 'em out.

Beds are now (nearly) empty

And the wheelbarrow is (very) full!

Next up:  Need to amend the empty beds. I'd already stuck a few transplants in the ground, under the 'maters, so I need to be careful not to OVER amend.  Although I am sticking with organic amendments so, hopefully, no risk of burning (tho' I'm not sure about bagged steer-manure...  Seems not to have hurt the FFF bed though).

Speaking of:

My seeds have sprouted!
Not sure if they're carrots or radishes. Oh well!

And here are a couple more shots from around the yard:

Morning Glories had a rather "Vigorous" year!

Nannas are still hangin' in there (the fruits are about thumb-sized)
No chance of harvesting anything edible though :-(

I've had these bananas since 2004.  I'm pretty sure that the only survivor from that particular eBay acquisition was the Saba.  And this is the second time I've gotten an inflorescence and fruit.  They die back every year, but also put-out pups, so I think I'll have nannas forever!  Saba is cold-hardy, but what Googling I've done has led me to believe that the fruits need to stay on the tree for appx 11 months before they can be cut down.  They may still be green at that point, but they might stand a chance of fully ripening.

However...  We don't get 11 months worth of Banana-Friendly Weather.  Winter temps can (and DO) dip into the 20's so Edible Fruit just ain't gonna happen.  The first hard-freeze will wipe-out the trees, turning the "trunk" to mush, unfortunately.

Next year, I think I may try to plant a California Gold Banana.  Supposedly, that variety does stand a chance of ripening into edible fruit.

Nevertheless, I still think it's pretty damn cool that my Sabas are at least attempting to fruit!

Okay, I think that's a pretty decent "Garden Update" for November, wouldn't you say?!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Random Rambly Randomness...

When I got off the plane from Mexico, I discovered that something TERRIBLE had happened while I was gone:  WINTER ARRIVED ("Ohhh Nnnnoooooo!!!").  It was cold and drizzly and it *smelled* like rain.  Boooo!!!

I did learn one valuable lesson though.  See, when you fly home from Mexico (mid 80's, every day - to upper 60's at night), and you find that "Home" is now upper-60's by day, and 40's at night.  Well, take a little side-trip to someplace BALMY like f**king Idaho, right?!!  Mid 40's by day, and I don't even wanna know what the nighttime temps were!  And the wind..???  Good Gawd I had *almost* forgotten about the bitterly cold wind in Idaho.  

I did a semester-and-a-half in Idaho - including being Out-The-Door of my apartment, and down at the barn at zero-dark-hundred - to shovel steaming piles of horse sh*t (part of my Horse-Training and Stable Management Curriculum) (Yes, seriously!).  In the winter, the poop-elevator (which carted the manure up, and into a large trash-container), crapped-out (pun intended), and we'd have to load the horse bedding onto a trailer, behind a tractor, and spread the manure onto the cow pastures - in the dark, freezing, bitterly-cold, take-me-out-and-shoot me wind (Srsly - you could feel your nose hairs freeze-up!).

Anyway, I worked VERY HARD to forget that wind!!!

Oh, and Buffett ROCKED, BTW (Yay!!!) 

So yeah, we also had a layover in Denver (35*!), and now Northern Cal doesn't seem so bad anymore!!!

Actually, I had one day between trips, so I shoved a couple of loads into the washer, then came out and puttered around in the veggie beds...

I harvested more 'maters (Yayyyy!!!)

Kellogg's Breakfasts in the back
Early girls and one lonely San Marzano Paste (the ONLY SM I got this year!)

And I decided to tackle the Former Finny Farm bed.  I had already amended it, a week or so earlier, with organic blood-meal (to bump-up the nitrogen and give it a chance to get watered-in).  Then I added some organic compost and a bag of steer manure from Home Depot.

P happened to mention that OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) had transplants of cool season veggies, so I dropped some $$ there and picked-up 6-packs of Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Swiss Chard.  They also had transplants of Radishes (with the radishes already nearly fully-formed) - now that's just plain silly!  So I planted an assortment of kohl crops throughout the beds - although I still haven't ripped out the maters from the other two beds.  I was being optimistic, but I'm beginning to realize that NOW it's time to remove 'em.  I'll just have to be careful not to rip out the cool-season stuff at the same time!

Anyway, here is the Former Finny Farm:

Kohl crops and I also sowed a row each of carrots and radishes

Barely a week later, and some of my seedlings are starting to appear - Yay!

I also purchased a couple of mini-greenhouse frames that *should* fit over these beds, just fine.  I just need to decide when (how) I'm gonna rig 'em up and/or if I'm gonna be hiring Rent-A-Son-Services...

Oh, and I sowed various lettuce and spinach seeds in my patio planters, so hopefully I'll be able to pick fresh salads thru winter (I say that EVERY year and I think it's only ever happened ONCE! - Ha!)

More backyard chores:  Weather's still too warm for fruit-tree spraying (hell, they've still got most of their leaves), so I'll hold off on that.  I *do* need to clean-out my greenhouse and tape new bubble-wrap to the inside of the walls and ceiling.  Thennnnn...  I need to drag the marginals into the greenhouse...  I might also think about firing-up my hydroponic garden and try growing some lettuces - just for grins...

Annnnnddd...  We've still got a boatload of patio furniture to put away - yet. :::sigh:::  I did start moving the lounge chairs into a horizontal plastic storage bin.  We need to take down the palapas (thatch umbrellas on the Tiki Bar and dining table :::BIG SIGH:::).  Followed by COVERING the dining table and Tiki Bar (That's *more* than a :::sigh::: - that's more like a :::SOB!!!:::).  

Then break-down and store the backyard stereo; move/cover the bar sink; and move the fridge over to the front-porch of the storage shed.  Those are definitely "Rent-A-Son" Chores.  Hmmm...  Wonder if he needs money?!!

Yep.  Plenty to do, and need to get to it before it starts raining.  Damn........

So far, the weather does seem to be holding up - but I fear I am pushing my luck a little too far with all this Yard-Chore Procrastination Stuff!

* * * * *
In other news...  (Warning: Not for the squeamish, nor Ultra-Conservative!)  I haven't p*ssed and moaned about my psoriasis in awhile.  It's definitely still "There" - but it is starting to become a bit more manageable.   I'm not exactly sure what I attribute that to, but I will be performing some "Experiments" to see if I can pinpoint it.

I'm really kind of debating whether I should be blogging about this - I am "mostly anonymous" - but there ARE folks who know me, and my blog...  But what the hell, right?  I mean, it's not like it's ILLEGAL (well, not "Completely" anyway!).  

So I did survive my trip, in spite of a significant amount of WALKING - between airports, TSA strip-searches, hiking to various gates through various airports, and vacationing in Mexico, and then going to the Jimmy Buffett Show (and I did NOT avail myself of handicapped parking at ANY time - thankyouverymuch!).  

What it all boils down to is: The more walking I do, the more "tender" my feet become.  And the thing about psoriasis is: It causes skin to re-generate FAR too quickly (which results in thickening, unbearable itching, and ultimately peeling which leaves raw, open sores behind).  I am now on my fifth dermatologist (and I swear-to-Gawd, she must be, like, a MAJOR stock-holder in Big Pharma - given her propensity for prescribing ONLY the latest and greatest NAME BRANDS of ridiculously-overpriced medications).  

I don't even want to list all of the medications I've tried.  Most have been high-powered steroid-based topicals (Nasty, nasty stuff).  Some have been so irritating that they BURNED and then caused me to break-out in hives ALL OVER.  I had done well with Narrow-Band UVB light-treatments but then, inexplicably, that stopped working.  

I've tried various and sundry "Systemic" medications.  Soriatane (which I couldn't tolerate), and Methotrexate (Nasty-Nasty Sh*t - left me feeling like I was having a heart attack and "If I am - Can I please just die QUICKLY and get it over with already?!!") (I *wish* I was exaggerating!).  There may have been one other systemic drug that I've forgotten but - basically - the systemics are the same drugs that they give to organ transplant patients to keep their immune systems from rejecting their new organs...

So the latest drug I am on (in addition to all the Steroid Creams that cost a freaking fortune!), is Humira.  If you're in the U.S. you have, no doubt, seen advertisements for this drug.  It's a full-on Immune Suppressant used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Plaque Psoriasis and probably a bunch of other stuff as well.

Key-words here: Immune Suppressant.  Now yes, I understand that psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder.  But I also understand that I have a bunch of other icky health issues, annnnnd we are heading into winter, and the LAST THING I need is to have my immune system supressed!  To say nothing of the fact that Humira BURNS like the fires of hell when you inject it (It is BAD.  Really-Really excruciatingly painful!).

And then there's the cost.  Oh my, yes.  Humira is still under patent and it costs.......  Drum-roll please....  $2,700.00/mo for maintenance doses.  Grant you: My co-pay is only appx $55.00 but - Seriously?!! - $2700/mo?!!  No effing wonder our insurance rates are doubling!!!

Yeah.  I really DON'T like Humira.

So, the other night, Hubs was watching some documentary on Netflix about Medical Marijuana and that got me to thinking...  Or, more specifically, Googling.  Turns out, there is some guy on one of the Medical Cannabis Boards (sorry, can't remember which one!) who combined concentrated THC with Coconut Oil and used it as a topical cream on his psoriasis lesions.  And it actually worked!  In just a matter of DAYS!!!

WTF!?!  That just might be worth trying, right?!  Hell, at this point, it can't hurt.  Also, one of the pills they prescribed for me is an Anti-Anxiety/Anti-Itch medication that DOES help me to sleep - but it turns me into a freaking ZOMBIE the next day!  I'd certainly like to wean myself off of those!

Sooooo...  Long story short (Too Late!).  I Googled further and found a Medical Doctor who - more or less - "specializes" in writing Cannabis recommendations (Yeah, no surprise there).  So, $90.00 later, after expressing my dismay over the prescription of "Anxiety Meds" I have to take, and explaining how "My anxiety exacerbates my psoriasis" yada-yada, I am now a Card-Carrying Cannabis User.

Now, lest you think I am a complete Loser-Stoner, I should probably explain that - Yes, I did smoke recreationally back in high-school and even a little in college.  And, if I am in a Party-Type environment and a joint is placed in my hand, yes - I probably will take a hit.  But overall, we REALLY aren't big pot-heads (at all!).  I think we bought an 1/8th about three years ago - AND WE STILL HAVE MOST OF IT!

Honestly, I am really not looking to "Get high."  In fact, my primary interest in cannabis is as a topical preparation to moisturize my skin and STOP the itching.  I was thinking I might try to incorporate a small quantity of hash oil into my next batch of hard-lotions (but hash oil is awfully damned thick and sticky - and stinky! - I've discovered).  In the meantime, one of the dispensaries had a product called Kind Rub which is sort-of like a cross between Ben-Gay (in terms of smell) and Vick's Vap-O-Rub, in terms of consistency/color.  Although it's kind of greenish and pasty (and greasy - all at the same time!).  It's meant as a muscle or joint rub ("joint" as in elbows and knees!).  I've been using the Kind Rub (Google it, if you're interested) on my hands/feet for the past several days and I have STOPPED all of the steroid creams and ointments - cold turkey!  I have to say, since I started this new regimen, my hands have cleared-up DRAMATICALLY.  My feet still itch and peel a bit, but even they seem to be improving as well.

And, as far as I can tell, the Topical preparations have NO hallucinogenic properties.

I daresay that I am VERY pleased with the results I have gotten, so far, with the Topical Cannabis Rub.  I suspect if I mention it to my dermatologist, she is gonna claim that "it's the Humira kicking in" (and it may well be). So I think I may need to experiment with STOPPING the Humira for a month or two - to see if the psoriasis returns.

Interesting world we live in, now.  Prop 215 has made it easier for patients to seek relief with cannabis - which is a good thing.  And, hopefully, this will open-up opportunities for "Science" to dive in and identify/isolate different cannabinoids to address specific complaints (There appears to be some good research *starting* at least!).

Nevertheless, I'll be doing a bit more research on my own, and probably experimenting with different home-made topical preparations to see what brings me the most relief.  Although - with the Medical Cannabis Boards, it's kind of difficult to separate "useful info" from some of the "Duuuuude...  I got sooo f***kin WRECKED on that sh*t!" posts, unfortunately (and yes - I suspect that not ALL visitors to the dispensaries are there for "Strictly Medicinal" reasons!  I just hope the "Duuuuuudes" don't spoil it for those of us who have a real medicinal need, right?!)

I do believe that there is definitely room for some "Legitimacy" in this new industry.  I really hope that it pans out!  And if I find things that DO seem to help (Honestly, anything's gotta be better than the Pharmaceuticals I've been taking), I'll post my findings.  Maybe, just maybe, someone else will find it helpful.

Oh, and to answer one final burning question:  What with this post being about Gardening and Medical Cannabis..?  No, I will NOT be growing my own!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Random Mexico Photos...

I have NO idea if this is gonna work, but I just uploaded my Mexico pictures to Shutterfly, and I am attempting to link to the slide show...

Try this!

Maybe I'll even get smart and figure out how to actually embed it into the blog.  Or maybe not!

Oh, I hope this works!


View my page on Meet the Phlockers