Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the double-ass ugly. Comments welcome! Jean

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cooking-for-One Part Five and Other Healthy Endeavors

Exercise (like cooking) is one of those things I’ve always---and I do mean always---hated doing. But I recognize the fact that some of the health issues that my husband and I had/have could have been prevented if we had had the same mindset the younger generation has regarding keeping fit. I begrudgingly do a two and a half mile walk twice a week and I pat myself on the back like that’s comparable to running a marathon. I’m even more proud of myself if I let the dog nag me into additional, shorter walks…proud until I run into one of my peers who does an eight mile hike every single day before I even get out of bed. In the winter I do time---like a prison sentence---on my exercise bike and she’s out in the cold, snow and ice still doing her eight mile hike, 365 days a year. If they find her stiff body along side of the road some dark January morning, the victim of a hit-and-run driver I’ll say, “See, I knew exercise was bad for you!”

Food is another matter. I’m really starting to get into the mindset of cooking and eating healthier. Better late than never, as they say. I’m not aspiring to be a vegetarian but I am down to eating meat or fish every third or forth day and I’ve added fruits and vegetables to my weekly shopping list that until this year I’ve never even tasted. Heck, I’m even making kale chips. Can you believe that, the woman who used to think the kitchen was just a room you walk through to get to the garage is making kale chips! The cooking-for-one series of classes I’ve been taking has done a sneaky good job of selling the eat-for-good-health life style. But the biggest attraction, to me, is the simple fact that if you don’t have to learn to cook things with faces it cuts down on the stuff you have to know how to do in the kitchen.

This week’s cooking-for-one class was all about using herbs. I learned that in order to eat healthier all by myself I have to go down my basement and find some old fruit jars to turn into containers to keep fresh herbs in my refrigerator. Imagine that! I learned I have to buy a mortar and pestle to make herb pestos that I can use two dozen ways including as rubs for grilling vegetables, in scrambled eggs or as a dressing for pasta or to freeze in ice cube trays to add to those pots of beans and soups I’m suppose to make next winter. I also learned that I need to move next door to a sharing master gardener who has a huge herb garden because there’s no way I’m going to be tempted to buy herb plants at the farmer’s market this weekend. Well, maybe one or two to go along with that smelly little basil plant I bought a month ago at the grocery store.

In the year or two before Don died I started watching the Food Network and to amuse him I’d often mimic their stars when I’d fix and plate dinner. I was more Lucy Ball than an Iron Chef but it would make him laugh and maybe make him forget that I was “cooking” from boxes, cans and take-out menus. Now that my cooking classes are at an end and I actually do more cooking from scratch I ordered myself a present: a set of chef’s knives I’ve had on my wish list for almost a year. If I cut myself and bleed to death the first time I use them I hope my nieces will send them back for a refund. They cost a fricking fortune! Who would have guessed a woman my age could have so many new kitchen gadgets on her wish list? Next thing you know I’ll be lusting after a salad spinner to dry off all the fresh herbs my factious new neighbor will share with me across her white picket fence. I wonder if House Hunters on HGTV could actually find me a home with a neighbor like that. Oops, my imaginary, ideal neighbor is distracting me from my cooking classes.

Back on track. Do you want to know what the most important things I learned about cooking-for-one are? It really boils down to four basic concepts: 1) Learn to love your sauté pan; 2) learn to love cooking in foil or parchment packets; 3) rethink how you define a meal, and 4) cook less, eat closer to the earth. ©


Kale Chips

One bunch of kale
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt or seasoning salt
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Bake until the edges are brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4.  
Basil and Parsley Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic cloves
1/8 cup pine nuts
Salt

Directions: Using a pestle and mortar, combine the basil and the parsley and crush until a paste starts to form. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to crush until a creamy paste has formed.

5 comments:

  1. What a wonderful class this has been. You never know where a class registration will lead! I'm so impressed that they ended with herbs. The fragrance goes a long way.

    I, too, have purchased many new kitchen gadgets in my widowhood. I don't regret one of them. Again, they go a long way.

    Bon Appetit!

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  2. The classes were taught by a nutritionist from the health department and they were so popular at the senior center that the director has arranged for more classes to start next fall. I really did learn a lot!

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  3. I grow a few herbs in a 5' x 1' strip by the back door -- just a few I use frequently (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano). Some (parsley, rosemary) are not winter hardy here and have to be replanted every year; others (oregano) self-sow and spread like crazy. I would love to grow basil, but my conditions are just not right for it; so instead I buy it by the bagful at the farmer's market when it's in season and make pizza magarita and lots of pesto. By the way, you don't need a mortar and pestel if you have a food processor, which whips up pesto in record time -- and you can freeze pesto in an ice cube tray and then put the frozen cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer (each cube is about one serving). I love being able to whip up pasta and pesto in the time it takes to boil water and zap a pesto cube for 45 seconds in the microwave! I love the kale chips recipe; I've done something similar that I eat with fish (and I often add some crumbles of feta cheese to melt over the top in the last minute.

    It sounds as though your class was well worthwhile. -Jean

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  4. Thank you for such an entertaining post! I'm glad to see you are focusing your energy on culinary pursuits. My situation is different (I lost a child rather than a spouse) but developing new passions or re-exploring old ones is a critical process for coping with the grief and emptiness that losing a loved one brings.

    By the way, I'm going to have to borrow the basil and parsley pesto recipe. I suspect I'll add a pinch of cayenne, but that's pretty much how all of my culinary pursuits go.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    All the best,

    Lee Rowley

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  5. Thank you, Lee, for the comments and you're welcome to the recipe. I'll have to try it with cayenne sometime.

    I'm so sorry for your loss!


    Stepintothefuture: Thanks for the tip about the food processor. I don't have one but I do have a mini food chopper that I'll try before I buy anything. I'm going to try the crumbled feta on the kale chips. That really sounds good. Thanks for sharing that!

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