Monday, September 17, 2012

The Better Chocolate Cobbler

Today we return to an oldie but goodie.  Yesterday I did a demonstration on how easy it is to cook in a solar oven and this is one of the recipes that I mentioned.  I figured why not bring it back.  Especially now that my youngest, my daughter, is off to pre-K.  It's really just half day kindergarten...but what it gives me is a few hours every afternoon to give back to myself.  I finally get to return to blogging, but as I will soon explain, things are being "rumbled" up a little.  While my love of all things food and cooking will still play a prominent role, my life has changed a lot in the last few years and the blog will reflect that.  But in the meantime...why not enjoy one of my favorite recipes of all time?  One that I even surprised my family with at a recent Saint Paul Saints Game.  I did indeed cook it in the solar oven and even the nay sayers who didn't believe it would work were amazed and gobbled it up.

Chocolate.  Is there anything better? Not to this chocoholic.  A few weeks ago I featured this amazing chocolate cobbler on Field Trip Friday.  It was really good.  But it was really sweet.  Too sweet for my family actually and they didn't gobble it up as I expected.  I reread the recipe and decided to try reducing the sugar a bit.  I made the new reduced sugar recipe a few days later and they all loved it.  And the people who had liked if before asked me what I did different because they liked the new one better!

So The Better Chocolate Cobbler is born.  It's simple, yummy and you really will need all the will power in the world to stop yourself from eating it all yourself.  But play nice and share. Or make a double batch.  Enjoy!

Update, September 2012: I made this recipe again when I cooked a large family dinner to celebrate my cousin Patrick moving from Boulder to Brooklyn to start graduate school at Pratt University (he's going for architecture design).  I wanted something that was easy to make, easy to double and a crowd pleaser. Wow did this hit the mark! I had fresh strawberries, raspberries, vanilla ice cream, whip cream and mint leaves for people to choose how they wanted to garnish it and it went over a little too well.  So well that the cook had to fight to get a serving!  There weren't even that many people there and it was a double batch!  So try it. It's deceptively easy but completely decadent.  I promise. 
You can even ask my mom. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This is a test of the Emergency Blogging Interuption Warning System (EBIWS)

Yes, blogging has once more been interrupted by life.  This time it was a complete computer crash, one that even my husband the "computer geek" couldn't fix, and the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad Christmas stomach bug that seems to be hitting most of the Twin Cities this week.

Red, my not so trusty laptop, will soon be on her way to the Computer Doctor (aka Dell) for a complete overhaul.  Yeah, when the customer service rep talked to the computer geek husband, the word wasn't good.  Seems I need a new hard drive, power plug in something or other and a whole lot more.  It seems like the only thing that doesn't need fixing is the motherboard.  Please, if you pray, pray that the new recipes I wrote recently are still there and that the Christmas e-books and music gifts that I bought and downloaded are still available.

As for the Christmas stomach bug, it has gone through most of the house and I seem to have gotten the worst of it.  When I can even think about looking at anything other than tea, I promise to post soon. 

But before we all got sick I had a great time with a few of my friends/neighbors making those last minute Christmas gifts that I mentioned before.  Some of them are new, but one is an old standby here in our home.  It's my homemade Hot Cocoa Mix.  Hopefully it warms you up a little as the Winter Solstice starts the beginning of brighter days and shorter nights!

p.s. You will notice in the newer version below that there is a slight change to the recipe.  Try out both and see which one your family likes better! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Knock Knock...any one home? It's long, but it's been a long, long time!

Remember me?  I'm the one who can usually come up with some kind of a somewhat healthy meal just by rumbling through her pantry. I've even helped a few friends out when they had no idea what to make.  I've managed to pull off some pretty slick fancy schmancy meals when all of the sudden we found ourselves inviting someone over at the spur of the moment.  And then I even got the crazy idea to start a food blog and was even more surprised when I found out that people actually LIKED it!

So, where have I been?  The last time I posted I was Blogging from Bed Rest, but I kinda underplayed how bad it really was.  But because like I said in that post, this is a food blog, not a blog about my life, and I didn't want my life to take over from the recipes and yummy food.  Plus, in all honestly, even I didn't know how bad things were.  But now I owe it to my readers to know what happened and why it seemed like I abandoned my "baby".  Because I really didn't mean to...I just didn't really have a choice.  Because only a few days after the Bed Rest post I found myself in the ER, only to be admitted for two weeks while they figured out what the heck was going on and how in the heck to get my pain under control so they could fix it!

But let's back up a little bit.  I told everyone in that post that I had a serious spinal injury in 2005 that ended up with me having a spinal fusion in 2006.  Then there was the car accident in 2009 and this nagging pain that wouldn't go away.  I mean it had always been there in some way, it had just gotten worse after the accident.  They ran test after test after test and the only thing they could really explain was that I had damaged some of the muscle around the fusion site and that the muscle was doing what they call guarding, meaning locking up and protecting the fusion.  That guarding was causing pinching in my low back which was causing numbness down both legs and really severe pain.  This is what they said it was, but in my gut I KNEW there was something more , but like a good kid, I did what the drs asked started doing physical/occupational therapy.  I had been working really hard for close to 8 months and instead of getting better I was getting much, much worse.

Looking back I can specifically remember when things got REALLY bad.  It was after a specific pool session in May of last year.  OMG, how little did I know!  But they had told me that there was nothing "structurally" I kept going to PT/OT and praying that working hard would make it better. 

So, back to the hospital.  It was there that they decided to re-run ALL the painful tests that I had done the previous fall.  They struggled to get my pain under control and were confused because the test results weren't showing them much.  Finally, after over a week, my REAL neurosurgeon came back from vacation!!!  Up until then I had been stuck dealing with the asshole they sent from her office instead.  Yes.  I said asshole.  I could say a whole lot worse.  She was like an angel!  She talked with my regular dr (that I loved) and called in a palliative care dr to help manage the pain. Then, right before ripping her colleague a new one, she ordered the test he should have ordered a week before, a radioactive bone scan to tell us what was really going on.  And oh boy did it ever!  I HAD BROKEN MY BACK!  Yeah, that spinal fusion that I had in 2006 was split in two. Remember that painful, horrible session in the pool in late May, yep.  Well, they say that hindsight is 20/20.  I mean no one really knows for sure, but I do. 

So I'd been walking around on a broken back for at least 6 weeks.  No wonder I couldn't cook or blog!  I was put on STRICT bed rest (like lucky to be able to go to the bathroom kind of bed rest) and scheduled for surgery in just a few weeks.  They offered to bump someone for me but I just couldn't do that to someone else who had been living in pain too.  Plus, I'd waited this long...I could make it a few more weeks.


Because it was at the pre-op appointment for the fusion in my LOW back when that angel I mentioned before, she noticed something was off in the way my right hand reacted when she was doing her exam.  Things stopped.  She went to the computer, turned around and asked me if she had ordered an MRI of my neck, went back to the computer and came over to me.  I told her that yes, she did order an MRI of my neck and she said I know, she had just found the order, but couldn't find the film.  She told me to go home and she'd call me later that afternoon as soon as she got another copy.

And she did.  And it wasn't a good call.  Thank God my husband was home for lunch and my mother-in-law was there helping with little ones...because I so needed someone there to hold my hand.  It turned out that she was convinced that the slightly serious blockage in my neck that she had first commented on when we first met the previous fall had gotten worse.  She ordered an emergency MRI the following morning (a Saturday) and said that if her suspicions were confirmed, I would not be having a spinal fusion repair on Monday at 5:30 in the morning.  Instead I would be having surgery to unblock severe blockage in my neck (C-Spine).  Well, she was right.  And this is why I call her an angel.  I had 99% blockage in at least 3 areas and anywhere from 95-99% blockage in 3 more.  She said spinal cord fluid was pooling and that if we hadn't caught it, I would have likely been paralyzed from the neck down or have died on the table in they had fixed my low back first.  Well, that was a lot to take in at 5:am...but we didn't have time for me to think.  Off to the OR I went and Dr. Margaret Wallenfriedmann proceeded to operate on 6 levels of my neck, and in the process most probably saving my life.

So yeah, still not blogging.  Or cooking.  Or anything!  She warned me that I might hate her a bit after the surgery because the recovery sucked...and while I like a dr who doesn't spin things and tells it like it is...I just wish she hadn't been so right on that one.

And then came the waiting.  They make you wait 12 weeks to have a second major spinal surgery.  I now totally understand why!  Add in Thanksgiving and I had only a 13 week gap before I was back for my low back surgery.  Originally it was scheduled to only repair the broken fusion, but you know how sometimes you have that little voice in the back of your head telling you to do something.  Maybe it was the meds, maybe it was divine intervention, maybe it was just that I was sick of surgery...but I made the dr let me make a note on the surgery consent form that if the level above the break was bad that she could fuse that too.  She kinda looked at me like I had lost my marbles...but in the end...I was right.  Once she got in there the disk above the broken fusion site was a mess and it needed to be fused ASAP.  So, thanks to being born with a fusion at L3 L4, I am now fused from about your belly button all the way down my spine.

And now it's just over a year later.  They say it takes at least a full year to recover from a single spinal fusion.  Add in the double fusion and the neck surgery...and that's where I've been.  I've been in the pool again (same one even!), busting my butt to get better, and while I will never get back to where I was (the damage from walking around on a broken back and what turns out might have been a faulty fusion piece from the manufacturer), I am getting back to the new "me".  I have finally been able to play around in the kitchen a bit, but still need to really take it slow.  I still need a cane to walk a lot of the times and I can no longer drive because I have partial nerve damage to my feet and can't feel parts of them. (OMFG do I HATE to admit seriously kills more than anything else I've written in this post so far!  Giving up my "independence" has been a hard one to cope with.)

I'm not going to lie.  It has not been an easy year and a half.  There were some seriously dark days, and nights, where the pain and frustration really almost took me over the edge.  Depression set it, like it does for a lot of people who deal with chronic pain, and that was a whole different hurdle to jump through.  I've lost some friends along the way, gained some that I will forever be thankful for and found out that there really are some amazing and giving people in the world who helped me out in so many different ways.  But again, that is another thing that goes along with those who walk in my shoes.  You find out who you can count on and who really matters.

And I'm here.  I'm ALIVE!  I can walk, even though I limp some. I can still sing my two babies (so what if they are almost 9 & 4...they are still my babies) to sleep at night.  I can still kiss their boo-boos.  And I can still cook a kick ass meal!  Just ask my son, Number 1 taste tester (he has asked to move up a spot in the line and my husband agreed to let him take over the #1 spot), and he will brag to the world about how when we all got strep over Thanksgiving this year...his momma still managed to figure out how to defrost a turkey that had been in the deep freeze in less than 12 hours and make pretty darn close to a full Thanksgiving Dinner with just what we has in the house (I had a little help with the stuffing and the pie thanks to my wonderful friends and neighbors!).   Oh, and he did sing my praises.  To a complete stranger at a wonderful place we have here in the Twin Cities called Midtown Global Market.  That stranger happened to be a super cool guy names Edward Piechowski who writes the column called Socially Savvy in MN Lavender Magazine. We went out for Small Business Saturday both to support small businesses and because we finally weren't contagious and I got to meet a fellow foodie who now wants to know when RITK goes back live! :)

And finally, RITK is back!  Originally I was going to wait until just after the New Year to start posting again, because Rumble In The Kitchen was started just after the New Year in 2009.  But I decided to start up now for a few reasons.  The biggest was because I wanted to be able to post some wonderful holiday recipes and ideas for last minute fun food gifts.  The second is because on Jan. 3, 2012 I get to start off the year with another surgery...but this one is minor!  It's only carpal tunnel!  Which in all honesty, after everything I've gone through, is like going to the dentist and having to get a filling instead of a root canal or major oral surgery.  This isn't going to be a walk in the park...but it's nada when you compare it to the last year and a half!

So keep reading and watching for some fabulously festive food ideas, both to eat yourself and to give as gifts.  Also, when I do have my surgery in January, I will be mixing some new recipes with some oldies but goodies that I'll be bringing back to highlight as well as some reviews for  some fabulous products that I was testing before I thought that breaking my back might spice up life for a bit. ;)

And finally, thank you.  One day, out of the blue, I checked in on the blog and saw that people were STILL logging in and that my recipes were still being shared and enjoyed.  You have no idea how much that meant to me.  And how good it feels to be back!  Happy Holidays to you and all you hold dear...and most of all...don't ever forget for one minute to Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Baked Basil Fries

Hello, again! I'm so glad to be back on RITK and do I have a treat for you! I visited a teacher friend the other week and she made these for me. We've made them about every other night since.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

The Recipe

1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
1 T dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt (or garlic powder and salt for flavor)
5 medium red potatoes, sliced into french fries

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. You can add more cheese if desired. We usually make it nice and thick. I haven't tried fresh basil yet but am tempted to as I'm growing some in my kitchen window. Let us know how it turns out if you go this route.

If you have a mandolin then use it on the potatoes. We don't, so I do it the hard way and cut the potatoes into french fries about a quarter inch thick.

Toss the fries in the mixture to coat them. You may have shreds of cheese hanging off the fries. That's okay. It's super delish once baked!

Spread the fries on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the fries then bake for another 10-15 minutes or until slightly brown and crisp.

I tried to get a picture of the finished product, but they were eaten too quickly!

You won't eat potatoes any other way once you've tried these.