It's been a while since I've last posted. I tried sticking to a once-a-month-on-the-weekend sort of deal, but life keeps getting in the way. I think Maryland's recent heat wave boiled my brain and then the smokers, the mildew in my bedroom, the continual stress which is my life, and the constant demands of two guinea pigs (one is energetic, the other one prefers to be left alone until otherwise stated) just leaves this single gal a bit tuckered out by Sunday. And then there's Monday and yet another work week to get through.
This week, thanks to my asthma, icky air quality, and smokers on the bus who just need that one last drag before they get on the bus (and inadvertently blowing it in my face and/or breathing space) and I wound up in the ER on Tuesday. My lungs finally caved. It took THREE treatments before they released me with a prescription of oral steroids. Now, thanks to blood sugars that remind me more of the recent Wall Street crisis than anything else, I'm left just a wee bit weak. I can only stand for so long. Thanks to Vicks Vapor waterless thing, I was able to sleep last night and my lungs aren't as congested as they once were and I can breath a wee bit easier. I no longer have to make the hard choice between walking or breathing :) I still have to do my usual chores and cooking (because, seriously, last week my idea was to eat gluten free Hamburger Help for a week ... it was good, but, by Friday, I had stooped to making chicken nachos), but hey, floors were made for holding dirty dishes!
Thanks to my sharp eye, I picked up some beef on sale, saving myself almost like six bucks in the process. I got split chicken breast buy one get one free. Thanks to 365 Crockpot, I got the grand idea for shredded chicken and, with that, I can add some chicken to my pinto and rice dish, and then make some awesome shredded chicken BBQ sandwiches, thanks to the French Rolls I found at Mom's Organic Market (if you're gluten free and tired of Whole Foods lack of options and high prizes, I'd highly recommend them, especially if you live in Maryland!). So, once again, with a few key ingredients and some store bought stuff (I found gluten free raviolis, gnocchi, and pierogies, I'm going to have a healthy, yummy, and relatively in-expensive meals for next month. Which is really, really great because PEPCO decided to stick their grubby little paws into my bank account (again) and I will be have to be very careful about what I do, and do not, buy. Oh and I'll need Tide and Downy - so this month ought to be, at the very least, interesting.
If you, dear reader, will allow me one paragraph on my soap box, I want to say I almost didn't make it last month. I was ready to buy the farm, to go visit my relatives in the sky above, to go and have a long talk with God, etc. As an Aspie with a deficiency in executive functioning skills and an inability to handle stress, I almost snapped. I had to take paid time without leave, which left even less in the good ol' bank account, because I got the runs from eating beans for two weeks in a row (I thought I would have learned my lesson the first time but apparently not ...). The next day was a Code Red day. I got up late, feeling really dehydrated. Well, in my confused state, I finally left the house around 2 PM for work and ... gasp ... forgot to drink water! I thus passed out in the parking lot - about four feet from work - and wound up in the ER (the ER is a constant in my life - it's really pathetic or sad or something because the three constants in life is change, taxes, and death ... and in mine, the fourth is the ER). Anyways, I digress - I took the next day off because I mentally snapped. There's only so much stress one person can handle at a time - add in the constant financial pressures, the "Will I make it to the next pay check?" anxiety, all the while living in the constant fear that if that car does hit you, if you do loose your job, if you get sick and wind up in the hospital, etc. you will totally loose your footing and be buried alive. It's no wonder the United States is living in fear - there's no security, especially if you're living paycheck to paycheck with less than $700 on your credit card as your life savings (or, even worse, none at all). If you find yourself in such a position, don't be afraid to ask for help. I know this is extremely tough for Aspies, especially for those, like me, who WILL be independent come hell or high water, but it is vital.
Food, too, is vital to our being - not only via the nutrition, but by its very essence. Food is soul. It is life. It is magic. Add a can of this, some spice of that, and a little protein and bam! you have a great meal (well, granted if you're not adding something gross like peanut butter, tomatoes, and garlic together - and, if so, good luck!). Whether you're following a recipe, reciting a recipe that you learned by rote at your mom's knee, or diverting off onto a unexplored path, food helps us to heal in so many ways. It brings together (and helps create) friends and family, new memories, and, at its very best, a new history [Did I tell you about that one time ...?]. At its very worst, it can destroy our bodies and feed our depression. At it's very best, it can make you smile, even sing, and brighten your day. Your food can communicate for you - as to who you are as a person, at the very essence of your core.
Okay, and I took two paragraphs - oopsie :) So, then, I will leave off with a pasta dish that, although it sounds very weird, will get your taste buds going "Ohh, this is good!" and your wallet humming with dollars saved, and a template on creating your own spaghetti sauce (just whatever you do, cook the noodles using the stove method and not the Crockpot - just . trust . me on this!).
Gluten-free or otherwise Green Olive Pasta Salad
Jar of green olives (or, your favorite olives)
Spicy brown mustard (or, your favorite kind)
Noodles (gluten-free or otherwise)
1.) Cook noodles according to package. Drain; set aside in a large bowl.
2.) Roughly chop olives
3.) Toss noodles, olives, and mustard.
You can also add veggies to this. Experiment!
Spaghetti Sauce Template
Roughly chopped veggies (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, whatever floats your boat - or just onion or none)
Two cans of tomato sauce
A can of diced basil/oregano/garlic tomatoes
Various spices: basil, pepper, salt, Mrs. Dash Italian stuff, parsley, bay leafs
Squirt of two of ketchup (as a single person who has yet to find a can of tomato paste that suits my individual serving size need, I just use regular ketchup)
Dash of sugar (i.e. no more than a teaspoon - you want a sauce, not desert!)
Ground turkey, sausage, beef, or chicken (optional)
Other good ideas to add, but optional: kidney beans, 1/4 cup of wine, Parmesan or other hard cheeses (NOT soft because it will glob up and look nasty).
Combine ingredients into a big pot. Season to taste (in other words, adjust the seasonings to your taste). Cook on medium heat until boiling. Cover the pot with lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 4-6 hours or until you can't stand the smell and serve over noodles or whatever floats your boat - enjoy! :)
What's your inspirational stories? What go-to dish keeps your head up high in troubled times (and, no, I'm not talking about the lock pick buried in the cake delivered to the prison ;-) )? What's your favorite food memory? Have a funny story to tell, a bad recipe to post? Do tell!
Until the next time, may your guinea pigs have many healthy years ahead of them!