Friday, May 31, 2013

Miracle Kids

I am proud of the work being done where I work, Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong, a part of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

I wanted to share with you some of the success stories that would warm your heart.  Click here to see these children.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A 4 day holiday for me

I decided to take a day of vacation from work tomorrow, extending my Memorial Day Weekend by one day.

I have a long list of things I want to accomplish - mostly work, but I threw in a few fun things too:

  • undertake a massive weeding/cutting back in the yard
  • clean the refrigerator. . . I hate that job, but it has to be done
  • transfer things from the garage that really belong in the shed out back
  • get the car waxed at Delta Sonic
  • visit the Strong Museum downtown
  • get in some target practice at the gun club I belong to
  • on Sunday, I have a "commitment" to go shoot sporting clays
  • possibly even start a new book. . . I love to read but that's one of those things that always gets shoved back when other things demand my attention

All or some of these plans could get pushed aside by my neighbor across the street!  She's due to go into labor any day or minute and I have offered to stay with their two children until grandparents can get here from Massachusetts.  They've already put their son and daughter on notice that they may wake up some morning and Sherry would be there instead of Mom and Dad!

They are good neighbors and are doing a fine job of raising their two children so I am more than happy to help out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Look what I got!

It's not everyday at work that you pick up the phone and are requested to come and pick up flowers that were delivered for you!  These are from my son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Marisa, and my grand dog, Woody!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Another winning cookbook - Seasonal Florida

Seasonal Florida, A Taste of Life in North Florida, is a real delight, not only to read, but for the recipes.  Having been born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, it brought back a lot of memories from my childhood.  History buffs will enjoy the pages of “back in the old days!”

The story of how the book came into existence is remarkable.  The author, Jo Manning, a fifth generation Floridian, and her five sisters bought the S. Knox Gillis House in DeFuniak Springs.  It had been vacant and in decaying condition for years when they bought it in 1989.  Like any other major renovation project, restoring the house took longer and much more money than originally expected.  They wanted to use it for a holiday gathering place for their large family and possibly later on turn it into a bed and breakfast.

After they exhausted all their resources, it was suggested that they publish a cookbook.  The rest is history.  The recipes were gathered from family, going back generations.

The one line in her Forward that I found amusing, “In less than two years, we had spent almost as much on the outside of the house as we had initially paid for the house and lots.  Estimates keep coming in.  And the inside – have you ever tried to get six sisters to agree on anything?”

I grew up eating seafood that was so fresh it slept in the Gulf last night!  Some of my fondest childhood memories are of crabbing along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico or the inland waters, or gigging flounder at night in shallow water.  And there is nothing to compare to Gulf shrimp.  I rarely eat seafood up here in the North because I was so accustomed to “real” fresh fish, that nothing here, that has been shipped in and sitting in a store display case can even come close to the flavor of fish from Florida.  When I hear people here say, "I don't like seafood," I tell them to go to Florida and eat the "real thing."

The Shrimp Creole recipe on page 181 of the book is much like I remember eating decades ago.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2  16 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning (recipe to follow)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 pounds medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
4 green onions, chopped

Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until mixture is a peanut butter color roux.  Stir in the onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Cook, stirring until onions are transparent, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes and their liquid, lemon juice, Creole seasoning and bay leaves.  Stir and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes.  Remove cover if sauce needs thickening.  Stir in the Worcestershire and shrimp and cook 5 minutes more or until shrimp just turns pink.  Remove bay leaves and stire in the parsley and green onion.  Serve over rice.

Creole seasoning:

4 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons  paprika
3 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons onion powder

Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until evenly distributed.

Note the recipe calls for using a cast iron skillet.  Cast iron cookware is found in the kitchen of every good Southern cook.  My own kitchen is filled with several sizes of cast iron skillets and I use them daily.

I hope you are enjoying touring my cookbook collection as much as I enjoy them myself.  A neighbor who reads my posts said once, "I'd love to come go through your collection sometime."  Cooking and serving an inviting, healthy meal is one of life's simple pleasures.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It must have been hysterically funny. . .

to an onlooker.

I was tired.  It had been a long week at work.  Things were piling up at home that needed to be done.  The flower beds in the front yard need weeding.  I need to decide what to do with that open space  up by the front of the house. . . on either side are two flowering shrubs that do great, but in the middle. . . once upon a time, I planted a holly bush.  Except that deer love to eat holly bushes.  That poor holly bush never gets more than a foot high now before the deer chew it right back down again.  So what can I do to that weed infested space that will detract deer???

There were other things on my mind.  My boss is going in this coming week for bypass surgery.  Not a walk in the park, for sure.  He is a good man and one of the few really great bosses I have ever had.  He has given me everything I asked for, from a new paper shredder to allowing me to bring in my own compact refrigerator and microwave to my office.

So, all I wanted to do was come home, sit down with a glass of wine that I could sip on - peacefully and undisturbed.  I took care of the dogs' needs.  Fed them, let them out, took up time with them.  Is it asking too much to allow me to have my glass of wine uninterrupted???

Most of the time, when I sit down with my wine - after taking care of their needs - Morgan and Molly will be at my feet, playing tug of war with a favorite toy. Not last night.  No.  They needed extra attention from me.  So Molly is in my lap, she needs help now getting up in my lap.  She will soon be 12 years old and old age is showing its ugly head.  Seeing this, Morgan was not to be outdone.  She jumps on the couch beside me - it's an old, old couch so I'm not fussy about keeping them off it.  The next thing I know, she is climbing up behind my head.  "MORGAN, GET DOWN!"  She knows how to push the right buttons with me and she isn't even a year old.

Now she is wrapped around my neck, back feet to my left side, her head and front feet unexplainably wrapped around my head.  Both dogs' tails are going 90 miles per hour and I'm trying to escape and at the same time see that my glass of wine sitting on the end table doesn't get whacked across the room with either a tail or a paw and that my eyeglasses don't get knocked off my face.

Could it be that God sent dogs into the world as a distraction from all the ugly stuff going on in our lives and to teach us to laugh in spite of it all???

Friday, May 17, 2013

A fun luncheon at work today

Back in February, the Division of Neonatology, had our first group luncheon.  That one was on a bitter cold, stormy day with almost a foot of snow on the ground.  We had a crock pot lunch.  That one was such a hit that we decided to do it again.

Today we had a salad lunch and people brought in a wide variety of salads, desserts, and rolls.  It was from noon to 2:00.  At noon, we had one wave of people and at 1:00, another wave!  (You have to consider you are competing with numerous meetings and conferences!)

So here are pictures from today.

The dessert table.  Vanessa, the mastermind behind the set up and decorations, scattered chocolate and mint candies around each serving table.

Two of the salad selections

These were soooo good!  It was a phyllo sheet base.  Asparagus spread over each with a sauce of, I'm not sure what all, but honey mustard, dijon mustard, and a couple other ingredients I can't recall right now. 

Let's eat!

Everyone had a great time.  It is fun to be able to talk with co-workers without the stress of our fast paced jobs.  We'll definitely do this again.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

My youngest grandson, Andrew, is eight years old today!  Andrew is a creative young man who loves soccer.  He, along with big brothers Kevin and Jake, is in the gifted program at school.

I'm very proud of all three of my grandsons!  John and Jen are doing a fine job of raising them.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Taste From Grandma's Kitchen

"A touch of the old, a bit of the new - The Schlabach family shares favorites with you"

I don't remember where I got this one.  It was first published in 1997, with the sixth printing in 2002.  The Schlabach family is a large family, mostly from Ohio.

Throughout the pages, you will find a wide variety of down home recipes that would excite any cook.

The Five Layer Casserole, below, is one I've made a few times.  It is fun to put together.  I've always used grated cheddar, rather than the Velveeta that the recipe calls for.

First layer:  1 1/2 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
Second layer:  slices of raw potatoes
Third layer:  slices of raw carrots
Fourth layer:  slices of raw onion
Fifth layer:  slices of velveeta cheese

Top with one can of cream of mushroom soup.  Cover and bake for one hour at 350.

These Buttermilk Cookies are DIVINE!!!

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda
4 cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vinegar

Cream together sugars and shortening.  Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, buttermilk, and 2 cups flour.  Mix well and add 2 cups flour, cream of tartar, and vinegar.  Mix well.  Drop onto baking sheet and bake at 350 until firm and lightly brown.
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Blend butter and sugar.  Stir in vanilla and milk.  Beat until smooth.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Backyard Shrubbery

I think it is safe to put my snowblower in its summer home, in the back corner of my garage.

Rochester is known for its Lilac Festival in Highland Park in the city.  Yes, I love the lilacs - and there are hundreds of lilac bushes there, along with many other varieties of blooming plants.  But, to be honest, I tend to avoid the festival.  The vendors, the loud music, and the crowds take away from the beauty of the park, in my humble opinion!

But in my backyard, in the early morning, as I let the dogs out, the eastern sky is just turning shades of pale blue, pink, and dark blue.  That is when I really appreciate my lilacs.  In the afternoon, when I come home from work, and again let the dogs out, the sun is in the west and shining brilliantly against my lilac blooms!

Against the back fence, many years back, I planted hydrangeas.  Right now the leaves are just coming out.  In a few more weeks and into June these will be covered in huge white blooms.  They slowly turn pink.  All of these bushes, the lilacs and the hydrangeas tower over me, the lilacs must easily be ten feet tall and the hydrangeas, a good 7 or 8 feet tall.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Rarely do I read a non-fiction book that really grabs me to the point that I can't stop talking about it!  Wild is one of those books.

This past week, my daughter-in-law and I went to hear the author speak here in Rochester.  I don't think I moved the entire hour plus that she spoke.

Cheryl Strayed was a 26-year-old young woman from the school of hard knocks (some of her own doing, but most not) when she decided, on a whim, to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995.  She had no previous backpacking experience.  Now I know a thing or two about backpacking, folks.  In my younger years, I probably backpacked somewhere in the 300 to 400 mile range in a string of trips lasting from a weekend to several week-long journeys.  My trips were in the Adirondacks of New York State, down in Pennsylvania and up into Vermont.  Aside from that, I have done dozens and dozens of day hiking trips in the back woods.  When I tell you that you don't decide to go hike 1000 miles on the PCT without a lot of previous experience, I know what I'm talking about!  But that is just what Cheryl Strayed did.

So many times in reading her book, I screamed out loud, "NO, NO, DON'T DO THAT!"  My dogs looked at me like they wondered what my problem was.

But this book is not just about a backpacking journey.  No, it is much more than that.  Cheryl's life was one long string of dysfunction.  As a very young child, she watched her biological father viciously abuse her mother.  She grew up in a very poor single parent home.  Her mother remarried and her step-father was a good father to her.  But then her mother developed cancer and died within 7 weeks of being diagnosed.  That hit Cheryl really hard.  She married a man she truly loved, yet she couldn't be faithful to him.  Her family scattered after her mother's death and her marriage crumbled.  Her world crumbled.

She needed a snow shovel one winter in her native Minnesota so she went to an REI store.  That was where her eyes wandered across the cover of a guidebook for the Pacific Crest Trail.

The trials and tribulations that she experienced on the trail transformed her into a strong and confident woman.

I don't want to give away too much here!  Read the book!  Whether you have ever set foot in the back woods, miles from civilization or not, you will benefit from reading of her journey.  Her writing is excellent.  She is even better at public speaking!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Therapy Dogs at Strong Hospital

At Strong Memorial Hospital, where I am employed, specially trained dogs participate in the PETS (Pets Engaged in Therapeutic Socialization) Program.  Hospital staff report remarkable changes in patients and families in the presence of dogs.  They are great stress relievers and cause anxious patients to relax.

It is not as simple as bringing a dog into the patient areas.  The dogs must receive extensive behavioral training, have medical exams twice a year, and be properly groomed.  I am told one of the tests a prospective dog must pass is the ability to walk past a bowl of food and leave it alone. . . my dogs would never do that!

When these dogs enter the hospital with their red "Strong PETS" bandannas, heads turn, faces light up, and people crowd around to pet them.

This program has been so successful that they have been awarded a 2012 Board of Excellence Award for Team Excellence.