Monday, April 25, 2016

4th Night of Passover!


Can't believe the holiday's already here. We had our own seder the first night, and it was with just Dad and I. I cooked almost everything and was the 'leader' of it, too. Seder lit. means 'order'. It's really a ritual dinner that goes in a specific order. You go over the symbols of the holiday, read the story, sing, eat, drink, and more. (There are 4 cups of wine. If you, like me, can't have wine, you can have grape juice instead.) One of the symbols is the roasted lamb shank, and some vegetarians use a roasted beet instead. I decided to do that since the lamb shank we had used for years had to be thrown out recently. Roasted beets are interesting...:iconseychelles-plz:I don't think I've used an actual beet before for anything. I've had beet salad or canned beets, but those aren't the same. They're already prepared. Apparently, beets get kind of leathery and soft on the inside. Their juice seeps out a bit, too. I probably was more fascinated by that than I should have been.:iconhongkong-wantsursoul:

The roasted egg turned out the best out of the last few years I've been trying to do it myself.:iconranranruuplz:It turned out speckled and had a long crack. I used lettuce from a salad container we already had for the lettuce part of the plate. Why not? Already had it that way. 

I didn't make as much of the charoset as I usually do. Don't really need to. It can go bad pretty quickly, so why make a lot and possibly throw a bunch out?:iconsighingplz:Especially, if you most likely will be the only one eating it after the seder. Our family version is just chopped up apples, crushed walnuts, grape juice (was wine, but again I can't have it), and some cinnamon. I used one apple this time instead of 2. Probably added a little too much cinnamon. Cinnamon can be healthy, though.:iconpolandplz:Still ended up tasting good. Generally, we have it chunky. Some families puree it into a paste. Some add dry fruit. Some add honey. (Although, it's pretty sweet the way we have it, as is.) There's like a million different recipes for it out there, but it's usually some form of fruit and nut mixture. 

I made the Passover granola, again. It's really good!:iconinloveplz:It seems to get better every year. This time I added slivered almonds to the mix. Made my 'famous' popovers, too. Did 3 batches. 1 for ours, and 2 for our friends' 2nd night seder. That's 36 in total. That's a lot of popovers!:iconawkwardplz:I was worried we'd run out again at the 2nd night's seder. (It felt like they were really angry about it back then.:iconscaredplz:) Turned out we had some leftover from there. So, yay! More popovers for us! 

Made 'zesty garlic' chicken instead of getting a rotisserie chicken for the main part of the meal. Used the kosher of Passover Zesty Garlic dressing we got at QFC and cooked the chopped up chicken in it. Kind of like I would with a simmer sauce. Tasted and smelled awesome!:iconfrancisplz:

Made a kosher for Passover angel food cake with a chocolate glaze. The cake itself came from a boxed mix. Didn't have to add much. I think just water. The glaze was adapted a bit from a recipe on Epicurious. I made my own kosher for Passover confectioner's sugar. Regular ones use corn starch, this one uses potato starch. Corn is kitniyot, so since I follow Ashkenazic tradition, I can't eat it during Passover. And, to be honest, I've found that certain forms of corn don't agree with me now.:icontinoplz:(Ever since my IBD symptoms started.) I like it, though...Even with Sephardim, they have to be careful with kitniyot. They can eat it, but it has to also be scrutinized to make sure nothing that would be considered chametz has gotten into it. I think they also have to find kosher for Passover kitniyot products. So, it's not so cut and dry like some make it out to be. Anyways, it was kind of fun making my own.:iconchibihungaryplz:I didn't know it was so simple and easy to do. I also made a little less of the glaze than what the recipe would have made. I spooned it over the top of the cake. It looked pretty messy when I was done, but still tasty looking too. When we got to it the next night, it almost looked like a giant donut.:iconheroamericaplz:The glaze had hardened quite a bit, and there's a hole in the cake. It's very good. Still have a lot left. We also had macaroons, candied fruit slices, and chocolate covered candied orange peels for dessert. The orange peels are always interesting. Really tasty and they seem unique. They come from Israel, and the packaging is really interesting as well.

There were 12 people at our friends' seder. They always have a lot of people for theirs. The hostess' nephew brought along 2 of his friends. So, there were 3 more people that were somewhat close in age to me. Much closer than usual. Kind of was more refreshing that way. Seemed like I had some things in common with them, too. Her nephew is so energetic and friendly. We've met a few times before. The rest I think were regulars. It was nice catching up with people, too. We were told to bring the popovers and wine. Funny how other people brought wine as well.:iconusaplz:There was, luckily, sparkling grape juice. Interesting number of people that stuck with it, and didn't seem to have any wine. There was brisket, green beans (also kitniyot, so I couldn't have it), salad greens, matzo ball soup (theirs always comes out a bit weird, and everyone seems to add salt to the broth), a Sephardic-style charoset, hard boiled eggs, the popovers, fruit salad, kosher for Passover chocolate chip cookies (they're like drops of edible cookie dough. Really good), kosher for Passover peppermint patties, candied fruit slices, and macaroons. I was really stuffed by the end.:iconfeelingfullplz:So many desserts, too. Some people say it's hard to make/find desserts for the holiday. I highly disagree. There are so many options...:iconawwwplz:

Made another thing tonight. It was a fisherman's stew. The recipe was from an old Passover cookbook. Funny how it says 'the new' on there. I used salmon for the 'fish' part. They didn't specify what kind of fish. There were also tomatoes, potatoes, green bell peppers, onions, salt, and pepper. Seemed like a decent amount of vegetables, and healthy that way.:iconeestiplz:I was worried that it called for too much salt, but it seemed just enough. I'm not used to adding salt to things when I cook. A lot of the time I find other seasonings to be more than enough. The vegetables helped a great deal with the flavor, too. The 'broth' was just added water. Seemed fine that way. Would have been interesting with dashi, now that I think about it.:iconkikuplz:It seems pretty flexible. Found out through MyFitnessTracker's app that it's really low in calories, too. So, it's a win-win that way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

National Pet Day!


This holiday was on Monday, but I think we should celebrate them every day. Yay for pets!:dummy:They're amazing! We have 2 cats, Rosie and Tasha. Rosie is a tortoiseshell tabby with an attitude, and Tasha (short for Natasha) is a Turkish Van who seems to have some dog-like tendencies. Tasha also has very soft rabbit-like fur, and large paws.:iconseychelles-plz:It'd be awesome if someday they ended up buddies. Yesterday was Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. One of my fave sandwiches! I haven't had a good one in a long time.:iconpolandplz:

My gastroenterologist responded to the email about me being frustrated, on Monday. I think I kind of scared her, but I voiced what's been on my mind before and how I felt about certain things after I saw her last Monday.:iconhongkongplz:(I always try to be as polite as possible about stuff like this, though.) I feel, especially with something like this, that I should ask questions, stick up for myself, etc. I'm basically my own advocate. Except, I still don't feel I know much about what I have.:iconlietplz:I've been really frustrated about the diagnosis lately. Do I have Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis? Seems like it'd be good to know. They are sometimes treated differently. She has been very hesitant to say either of them. She responded by saying sometimes it's difficult to know for sure which one. She also brought up how looking at my colonoscopy back from the end of July, suggested Crohn's. Since the inflammation was seen throughout the entire colon, and was less severe in the rectum. Apparently, the inflammation is most severe in the rectum with UC. (She also didn't bring up how my stomach and duodenum were slightly affected in the endoscopy part.:iconhanatamagoplz:Another sign that suggests Crohn's.) She brought up that IBD test from back in August that indicated UC. So, as of right now, she can't be 100% sure. So, why was I diagnosed with UC in my after visit summary that Monday? Why did the results from my sigmoidoscopy come back saying there was no sign of UC? That specific wording.:icongermanyplz:I could see it'd be more understandable if they said there was no colitis that showed up in the biopsy, but to specifically be talking about UC...If unsure, why not use colitis or other terms that were used to describe it in the past? After reading that she can't tell for sure still, Monday's appointment seems even weirder to me.

She mentioned that hair loss could be a lack of adequate amounts of protein. She said this before when my hair first came out in large chunks.:iconusaplz:I had asked her back then if she could recommend a nutritionist who deals with people who have IBD. Preferably someone local. She never got back to me on that. This time she said she'll ask my primary if there are any locally for me. If my primary doesn't know of any, she'll tell me about ones across the water. (At least she didn't ignore it this time.:iconnorwayunimpressedplz:) She also asked if I was taking a multivitamin. I am, but I don't think that would help with my protein...:iconswissplz:She said if I have additional questions, we can schedule a phone appointment to discuss. Sometimes, not often, it's hard to hear what she says because of her accent. Talking on the phone kind of makes it more difficult than just emailing her.:iconohboyamericaplz:

She asked at the very end how I was doing with Miralax. I hate this stuff.:iconromanoplz:The first day or two was alright. I wasn't crazy about it, and it made the iced green tea that it was in sweeter. I thought ok, having it slightly sweeter I'm somewhat ok with. It's been tasting more and more similar to that nasty laxative I had to take for the colonoscopy/endoscopy. (I couldn't keep that stuff down too well.) It's certainly not nearly as bad, but I'm getting a slightly familiar taste.:iconwtfukplz:Maybe I haven't been stirring it up all the way lately? Although, I've been stirring it until it runs clear. Anyways, its been turning my stomach a bit lately. Each dose has a lot of powder. Everyone seemed to be raving about this stuff. I don't think it's that great so far. I almost threw up after having it the last couple of mornings. It's not really helping with my constipation, either. I've just been feeling more and more stuffed over time. Eventually something's going to burst...:iconitalyishorrifiedplz:At least, that's how it feels. I still think it's a partial obstruction, or maybe it's specifically a stricture. They can happen often with Crohn's. I've read that laxatives might actually make it worse. So, I don't know. 

I have an appointment with my primary care doc this afternoon. Maybe I can bring this up with her. I feel like something is wrong, but my gastro is shrugging it off. (It seems this way, anyways.) Especially after the test results came back better a few weeks ago. I'll ask her about the nutritionist, too. I might do my next blood draw while I'm there. Maybe it'll indicate something towards why I feel this way. 

Also, my stomach's been hurting in general a lot lately. It started hurting more just before starting Miralax. It's gotten to the point where I look at food and wonder if it'll cause me more pain.:iconhongkong-wantsursoul:I don't think I've had such bad stomach pain for so long. I've been eating a lot less lately. It wasn't like I was eating a lot on a regular basis beforehand. Maybe talking to my primary about it will jump start something for it.

Pesach or Passover is coming up quickly. It starts the night of the 22nd. Our friends are doing theirs on the 2nd night. So, we'll have a family one for the 1st night. Sometimes, the order is flipped. I think the last few years it's been the same, though. I still think just having Dad and I will be good for our seder.:iconthailandplz:Laid back, less cooking, etc. Although, I do like when there are guests. It's a different sort of atmosphere. 

Yesterday, I finally got around to some planning and figuring out what to make for it. I think for a 'special' dessert for our seder I'm going to make a kosher for Pesach angel food cake with some chocolate glaze drizzled over it. Sounds good.:iconfeelingfullplz:The cake mix has been sitting for a while. It's never been opened, but I should finally get to it. The chocolate glaze will be from a recipe I found online. It's originally made for donuts, but they said it's good for cakes, too. It's not labelled specifically as a kosher for Pesach recipe, but it could be. It's only about 4 ingredients. All of them are ok for Pesach normally. It might also take any off taste from the cake away. Sometimes kosher for Pesach cakes can have a slightly strange aftertaste, and occasionally be a bit grainy. The chocolate might help with that, if that's the case. 

I think our friends will ask me to make popovers for theirs. Last time I didn't make enough. Hopefully, they'll tell me how many people are going beforehand. I'm thinking of making 3 batches. 2 for their seder, and 1 for ours. Each batch has about 12 popovers. If they tell me that there will be more people, I'll try to make more. But, that's an awful lot.:iconawkwardplz:They cook and cool quickly, at least. I don't really know why people like them so much. I like them, but some people go crazy over them every time I bring them. Last time they also asked for a salad or vegetable. 

Found 2 interesting recipes from my The New Kosher for Passover Cookbook. It's not really new anymore. I think it was put out by an Orthodox Jewish women's group. They're recipes compiled from their members. Some are a bit strange, but others look really good and straightforward. One of the recipes I might make is Gulyas soup. Gulyas is another way of saying goulash. It sounds really tasty.:iconfrancisplz:Has some garlicky sweet and sour stuff going on. The other recipe is a fisherman's stew. It sounds very filling. Its got fish, potatoes, onions, green bell peppers, tomatoes, and a few other things. Not traditionally the way most people think is a fisherman's stew. Most think of a non-kosher way. They don't specify what kind of fish, so I'm assuming it doesn't really matter. We have salmon, so I might use that. Although, if we want a white fish, maybe cod or tilapia would be better. 

I'm not going to cook a lot from cookbooks this year, because I feel a lot weaker lately.:iconwtfromanoplz:I'm hoping I can get to these 2. I might make a matzah pizza, too. That won't be from a recipe. It's also easy to throw a few ingredients on top and heat it up. It might have spaghetti sauce (this one seems ok for Pesach), mozzarella (still have quite a bit), some dried basil, maybe some garlic, maybe a few vegetables, etc. Could have fun with it.:iconyayhanatamagoplz:

I'll make kosher for Pesach granola for the breakfasts. This stuff is awesome!:iconinloveplz:I think it would actually be great year-round. But, it wouldn't feel like it's a special holiday food that way. It's very simple to make. One batch makes a lot. Usually more than 8 servings. So, it tends to last for a while after the holiday. I like that it's from scratch, simple, and doesn't have many ingredients. Also, that it's like candy and doesn't disintegrate in milk (unlike most store-bought Pesach cereals).

Also, the seder plate will be slightly different this year. I had to throw out the lamb shank we had in the freezer when it stopped working. We had used that same bone for years. I think it ended up being around 14 years. It was petrified by then and looked cool. So, I'll have to find something to replace it. I think I saw chicken neck bones at a local market. I could roast one of those in the oven. Another option is some people put a roasted beet in place of it. That would be interesting, too. Some feel that it's best not to use a bone, thinking that we should be different and not recreate the ritual sacrifices that we might have done in the past. Also, some are vegetarian or vegan, and its been a good alternative for them. So, I'm still debating which one to use.:hmm:The beet might be easier, though.  

Should be interesting to see how the holiday food will affect my gut. First Pesach after being diagnosed. It'd be funny if the food actually helps me, and I feel a lot better.:iconlaughingplz:Kind of an experiment that way.