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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Eggs for Seeds

I took two pomegranates to my neighbor. We traded my jumbo fruit for two of their fresh chicken eggs harvested this morning from a backyard coop. They have had chickens years before the laws against farm animals in unincorporated Sacramento suburban homes changed to allow raising chickens. My neighborhood consists of predominately USSR immigrants that have gardens and livestock flourishing in our quarter-acre yards. Every since the blow up of the economy many homes have live fowl and gardens. It’s nice the Sacramento government finally approve of people raising their own food.
Three of the eight houses on our cul-de-sac share fruit and veg with other suburban farmers like me. I have a small orchard consisting of nine mature trees. I’ve trained the orange and tangerine to yield fruit  January through March.  You know you are living in California if you can pick a sweet orange off your tree on a crisp New Year’s Day—frost on the leaves and the sun on your back. Tartarian cherry and Bing cherry are ripe May and June.  Blueberries June. Blackberries July. Almonds August. Fuji Apples August through September. Pomegranates end the season in September and October.  My farm is blessed.
I have a black thumb for gardening mainly due to my complete lack of interest in hard work. Ask my cousin Cindy. She slaves over her tomatoes, zucchini, cukes, peppers, onions, watermelons and beans. Not to mention the work she goes through to prep the soil before and after planting. I am more than happy to take the canned vegetables she makes off her hands every fall.
I have learned herbs (which are tasty weeds) and trees are tended by the master gardener— God. I trim trees once every two years, put a hose on the roots when HE doesn’t bring rain, and pick the bounty. I love this arrangement.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: Hot oatmeal and almond milk. Tea Earl Grey Hot with honey.
Snack: Pomegranate Seeds
Lunch: Trader Joe’s Frozen Channa Masala (360 calories Vegetarian Gluten Free)
Snack:  Home grown Fuji apples
Dinner: Evangelism Committee meeting at Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, Madison Avenue.  No calories in church events. Chips, salsa, Seafood enchiladas with black beans. Ice Tea

Snack: Chocolate covered cranberries

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


For you, I stopped in the Burger King next to my AFLAC office and purchased my first order of Satisfries. Actually, I ordered the vegetarian burger—no onion, no mayo, extra pickles—ice tea and a small order of Satisfries. The combo cost $5.49 plus tax and the survey receipt earns me a free sandwich in the future. Obviously, BK was looking for opinions on the latest French fry faire that has seventy less calories than their regular fries.
I am pleased with BK vegetarian combo as it is the last fast food chain to still offer the meatless patty. McDonalds and the like think that a fish sandwich is vegetarian. Flextarian yes. Vegetarian no.
Although, I don’t regularly order the fries because I don’t need the calories and more importantly the BK regular fries are not as good as McDonalds. These were good. Crinkle cut, lightly salted, with a satisfying crunch, the fry did not droop and they stayed hotter than BK regular choice. I liked the low cal Satisfries better. The patented coating does not have much potato flavor but with the amount of ketchup I use, I didn’t care.
My vegetarian fast food meal contained 590 calories—ketchup not included.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: Hot oatmeal with banana and almond milk.
Snack: Coffee with creamer and sugar.
Lunch: Burger King vegetarian burger—no onion, no mayo, extra pickles—ice tea and a small order of Satisfries with ketchup.
Snack:  Dark Chocolate covered raisins.
Dinner: Vegetable soup with rice cakes.

Snack: Dark Chocolate covered cranberries. Fuji Apple from my tree.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cheese Dip

A friend from work forwarded several vegan recipes when she became aware of my culinary leanings. She included from the 7 Secrets Cookbook by Neva and Jim Brackett, a great recipe for nondairy cheese.  I made the whole recipe in less than five minutes and dipped an organic black bean chip into the hot liquid mixture. It was outstanding.  The warm soft cheese is better than the cold brick. The ingredient's flavors tend to separate in the cooler version. 
 I suggest replacing the pimentos with jalapeños or salsa to serve hot with chips. Or grate the cheese and use it on pizza hot.  Really good.
You will absolutely need the agar flakes or powder. It can be found cheaply at the local Asian market or a more pricey option is a health food store or Whole Foods. It’s also known as Chinese gelatin.
Today’s Menu:
Sliceable Cashew Cheese—7 Secrets Cookbook by Neva and Jim Brackett

This recipe doubles for two kinds of cheese-like slices – yellow or white.  They can even be shredded!

2 cups water
3 Tbsp agar flakes (or 3 tsp agar powder)
1 cup raw cashew nuts
2 Tbsp pimentos or ½ bell pepper or jalapeños or salsa
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp food yeast flakes
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder

1. Boil together the agar and water for 1-2 minutes.  Place in blender with all the remaining ingredients and blend for 1-2 minutes until very smooth.
2. Pour into containers and chill.  Slice when firm.

Hint:  This recipe makes a yellow cheese.  Leave out the pimentos for white cheese.  It may be frozen – shreds best when partially frozen.  Makes a great topping for pizza or lasagna because it melts when heated.  Keep white and yellow cheese (whole and shredded) on hand in the freezer – for quick, nice looking toasted cheese melts.

Makes 2 cups. About 165 calories/12% saturated fat per 1 ounce slice. (Real Cheddar cheese has 116 calories/30% saturated fat.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chapter 3

I have spent most of the day trying decide if I should post a chapter from my pending book or if yes which chapter. Several of you have asked to see the book. My every intention is to publish it on the web when completed sometime in 2014.I received enough warm-fuzzies—as  Momma calls them—from the VIP luncheon attendees last Sunday that I feel brave enough to share. 
While emboldened, I present: 
Steps: A Travel Log of Our Life
Chapter 3 Steps to Turn Three
Michael loved watching car races. He talked endlessly about NASCAR, Indy-cars, and drivers that mostly bank left.
My friend worked at Sears Point Raceway. Cathy offered me a part-time cashier position for five bucks an hour with two sets of racing tickets that covered the entire weekend, an overnight pass for camping, plus a special press pit pass. The ticket packages were valued at $150 per person—a lot of money a few of decades ago. I couldn't think of a better gift for my true love so I took the offer not just for that weekend but for the full racing season.
At the time, I managed a computer retail store—one of a handful in the Silicon Valley. Working as an entry level clerk in a gift shop—one weekend a month, six hours a day—proved to be a vacation for me. I had no responsibilities, received a break every two hours to watch the races, and I met celebrity after celebrity—from Michael Andretti to Paul Newman.
My Michael wandered anywhere he pleased in Sears Point from the track to the pits. He shot fifteen rolls of 35MM film on his Nikon with telephoto lenses—the first day. Cars crashed in front of his shutter. Racing fuel filled his lungs. The man could not have been happier. He told me so.
"Debra," he said, "I couldn't be happier."
After my shift, 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., we met up at the knoll above Turn Three. A great tailgater—fifty or so cars and trucks—already in progress, hugged the edges of the racetrack. I could smell the hamburgers charring on the grills. Michael had a remote-controlled Indy-car zipping across the dirt. Other thirty-something men joined in the festivities with their own battery-operated toys. As the actual race cars finished the qualifying rounds, our small hill hosted a series of racing heats between the finest toy vehicles purchased at Radio Shack and Fry’s Electronics. Michael’s blue entry made second place more than once but never winning a heat. I could tell he was disappointed by the performance.
As the light dimmed before dusk, I pulled out the kites—Michael’s dragon and my butterfly.  The only campers to have kites flying above Sears Point, we spent a leisurely hour hanging on the strings and watching the pink-orange sunset behind our kites.
By dark, clouds blew in from the bay and we scrambled to put up the tent in between sporadic rain drops. Giggling, Michael and I tossed in the sleeping bags, kicked off muddy shoes, and zipped ourselves into the nylon igloo. The intermittent patter became a constant flow of rain. Neither of us wanted to venture out and stake down the tent. We snuggled instead.
The morning light brightened the tent like a glow-stick.  “Do you hear that?” I said digging my way out of the sleeping bag.
“What?” Michael mumbled.
Michael sat up. His hair tousled, dark curls covering his forehead.  “It’s the cars.” He pulled himself to his knees looking down at me. “They are taking practice runs.”
“… sounds close.”
I unzipped the sleeping bag and sat up. The plastic bottom of the igloo-shaped tent loomed over head. “Hey. Where’s the opening? I got to go to the bathroom.”
Michael’s head whipped around. “Don’t know.”
 “Should have staked the tent.”
He crawled around me, touching along the seams of the nylon tent. I dug around the bottom underneath sleeping bags.
Eeeerooommm! The sound blasted past my shoulder.  “Sounds closer.”
“Found it!” Michael pulled up on the zipper located at my feet and continued to unzip above our heads where the bottom of the tent was now located. He climbed out of the space into the light, letting out a sound that can only be described as a war-whoop. “Debra, get out here now!”
Scrambling out the opening, Michael pulled me to my feet and pushed me toward the bushes. We stood on the track of Sears Point’s Turn Three. A crowd edged the safety fence and cheered us or the passing Indy-car. I’m not sure which. Grabbing the edge of our tent, Michael pulled it close to us as not to obstruct the Indy-car sporting bright-blue coloring and Firestone logo whizzing past.
How we managed to roll down the hill over the low fence onto the track while sleeping, heaven only knows. How we kept from getting killed was also a mystery. The mud caked tent held evidence of the event. We had no memory.
We scaled the bent fence, schlepping through the mud in stocking feet to safety amidst snickers and cat-calls of our fellow campers. I thanked God that we slept fully clothed. 
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: Watermelon juiced. Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: Oatmeal with almond milk.
Lunch: Vegetable soup. 
Snack:  Godiva Chocolate Bites.
Dinner: Taco Bell Bean Burrito.

Snack: Rice Cakes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's Not The Chocolate

It’s NOT chocolate, not HoHo, not fried chicken, and not Häagen-Dazs. And it’s not lack of exercise either. Yay! Party time. What am I talking about? Weight gain of course.
Buzzing through the internet is research linking our civilizing the night time with electric light and weight gain in mice.  
“…article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences they found that mice exposed to dim light during their sleeping hours for a period of eight weeks had a 50% higher weight gain compared to mice that slept in the dark.”
Think about it. When was the last time you slept in a dark house? My night stand is cluttered with plugged in and glowing iType products. The bath has a night light. My bedroom curtains do not block the street lights or a full moon.  Lights come off of the wireless gadgets, the cable box, digital clocks, and automatic coffee maker. Let’s count the four solar powered security lights the cover the four corners of the house. Other than the closets, my house is lit. 
I remember driving with my husband from the Twin Cities airport to Fargo on vacation to visit my aunt. The highway is a straight shot through open farm land dotted with lakes. We had left the car rental at dusk and drove for three hours in the dark with few street lights or traffic. Dark. Suddenly, to my squinting eyes I saw metal barns lit as bright as spotlights.
“What the heck?”
“Oh,” stated my husband, a man full of facts, “Turkey farms. They keep the lights on until midnight until Thanksgiving. The turkeys eat more in the long days.”
I just thought of this trip. Why wouldn’t the same logic apply to people? My grandparents would not have had a midnight snack or a 9:00 P.M. snack either. Why not? Because they were in bed.  Early to bed early to rise…something…something.
So keep eating chocolate or whatever is your passion, click off the breaker, and sleep.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: ½ c Raisin Bran w/almond milk.  Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: None.
Lunch: Veggie Burger, Fries, and Ginger Ale from Burger King (770 calories).
Snack:  Pear, Mango, and a small Fuji Apple picked from my tree.
Dinner: Small Salad.

Snack: Peanut butter.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My weight is...

I have been careful not to really discuss my diet these last few weeks. Partly I didn’t want to sabotage myself also I still hate to use the word Cancer. When I started this blog, I weighed over 265 pounds. That is the weight of 6’4” San Francisco 49er Tight End, Vance McDonald—to put things in perspective.  I fasted, raw-vegan-ed, juiced, and walked. In one year I dropped below 210.
Perhaps I would have hit my goal of 185 which happens to be 5’10” SF Giant Pitcher, Sergio Romo if not for the complete immersion into my mortality.  The best diet in the world will not stop destruction of prolonged years of stress.
My first indicator was a stress related heart attack a month before my husband’s death. Test showed no heart disease thanks to my healthy diet. But the stress took its toll.
After the passing of Paul, I ran off to Taiwan to mend. The month overseas helped me find my smile and reduce my fits of crying. Once I returned the world of work and bills, life piled up on a fairly battered ego. I found a lump in my left breast eleven months after my heart attack. My job ended. I returned to my home to deal with the cancer treatments that are brutally administered to kill the mutant cells.  The doctors pulled me off of the raw vegan to prevent bacteria entering my body and placed me on cooked comfort foods. 
My weight jumped from 208 to 247 in less than four months. Between surgery, chemo, and radiation, I could not stay awake longer than four hours, my left arm could not move higher than my shoulder, and I had less hair than Bruce Willis.  Chocolate, my best friend.
I found a new job. New responsibilities within my church and interests. In May, I started to reclaim my diet and my body. 
My biggest challenge was not my diet but my belief. After Paul’s untimely death, my heart attack, and subsequent cancer, I no longer thought about the future. The future held nasty possibilities—strokes, more cancer, if not cancer more tests for cancer, more discussions about cancers, death, dying, mortality, the end.  Wow. Heavy.
I did what I needed to do. I went to Neptune Society, paid for my funeral, and moved on with my life. ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: ½ c Raisin Bran w/almond milk.  Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: Blueberry Bagel at regional meeting. No cream cheese or butter.
Lunch: Veggie Sushi, Seaweed Salad, and wait for it…apple strudel… bad, delicious but bad.
Snack:  Cantaloupe.
Dinner: 2 Fig Newton cookies at church bible study.

Snack: Carrots.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


I am eating spoonfuls of It’s Soy Delicious non-dairy frozen dessert. It looks like ice cream and tastes like chocolate and nuts.  I am celebrating finding my earring or rather my dog Poindexter finding my earring.
A few days ago, I wore a pair of gold and onyx medallion-shaped earrings. My mother purchased them a few years back. I love the look but the onyx is too heavy and due to the price of gold these days the hooks are too light. They forever fell out of my lobes. Aware of the problem, I took extra care to remove the earrings as soon as I came into the house. Or so I thought.
That evening, I came into the bedroom to start my bedtime ritual only to find one earring missing. I retraced my steps. (Sure you have done this yourself.) First the car, perhaps it popped off when I unhooked the seatbelt.  The bathroom where I pulled off my I-know-you-cannot-tell-I-had-cancer-treatments wig. The hallway, the area rug, the bed, the shower, toilet, everywhere. The earring disappeared into Monday night.  It had value especially as it had been a gift from Mom but I just went through this last month with my diamond studs. I have one but lost the other.  
The expert finder of lost things was Paul, my husband. When we first dated, he earned the nickname—among others—of Hawkeye. I swear he could find a silver earring back in shag pile carpeting at eight paces. A true talent.  Without his help, my recovery rate for things is sadly low. I gave up on finding a quarter-sized gold disk anywhere in the house.
Today, I dug through more boxes of Paul’s things for the storeroom, setting aside photos for uncle John, toys for nephew Kodie, and worthless correspondence to the recycle bin. For a long time I held his high school yearbook. Opened one page and then another later in the day. What does one do with a yearbook? We have no children or grandchildren to pass things along. His parents are dead. His friends own the same album. This question bugged me all day.
Netflix provided me with a diversion for a couple hours. I discovered a Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright series, House of Cards. Well acted and produced, I lost myself and my memories in a political drama which was not too intellectually challenging. 
My dog put up with the drama for as long as he could. The sun set and the temperature dropped below ninety degrees. Dex wanted to play. After some whimpering and herding on his part, I tossed his Frisbee in the dusky eve. He leaped and spun for joy.
I thought. It is not so terrible to keep a yearbook mixed in with the photo albums. It is as unlikely it would be opened in the next ten years as it had been in the last. I do not need to give away or toss everything to move on with my life…it’s just a book.
Dex flipped the ignored Frisbee on my foot which caused drool to spill off the edges onto my naked foot. I bent down to retrieve the toy and saw the glisten of gold next to my heel. Without seeing the object itself, I knew I found the earring—the onyx one not the diamond—in the grass. Perhaps Monday, we had played Frisbee before I changed from my work clothes. Unlikely, but possible.
I had my earring. I properly thanked Poindexter with a “good boy” and a pat on the back.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: Watermelon.  Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: Watermelon.
Lunch: One soy corn dog and salad.
Snack: Watermelon.
Dinner: Vegetarian pot stickers, mung bean sprouts.

Snack: It’s Soy Delicious non-dairy frozen dessert Chocolate and Almonds.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

New Passport

My passport arrived. I paid $60 extra bucks to have it expedited because I procrastinated thirteen months before renewing. After I opened the delivered passport, I was shocked to see a picture of an old lady on the photo page.  My last two IDs carried a sweet image of my wild thirty-something years. The guy at the post office agreed it was time to update that woman to a more representational rendering of my current self. He took a picture on the spot.
I think there is too much reality. However in twenty years or so, it will look good to me.
Once again, I am papered to fly away to corners of the globe not yet explored by me. Holding a passport gives me the same feeling of freedom as renewing my driver’s license and vehicle registration. Infinite possibilities occur when one is legal to leave the city, state, country, and continent. Oh how I love to travel. 
Up first is Ireland. The pretty green island is home to one-quarter of my ancestry and one-half of my late husband’s. There is a reason why chose Ireland as my maiden trip. I will save that for when I get closer to the trip date of October 6th.  Instead, let me tell you the story Uncle John brought back from Ireland a decade ago.
The O’Neils (Neil-my ancestors) and the O’Dwyers (Dwyer-Paul’s ancestors) lived in the same county. A dispute had grown over a spit of land between the two clans. Rather than fight a bloody war the chiefs decided to have a foot race to determine who truly owned the hill. 
On the top of the knoll grew an ancient tree. The two men agreed to run to the top of the hill and the first one to touch the tree would be the winner.
Both clans came out for the event. Music, food and spirits were shared by all. With a drop of a scarf, the race started and the two chiefs ran hard up the hill. First O’Dwyer led then O’Neil then O’Dwyer. It was clear that O’Dwyer would win as he had taken a commanding lead. O’Neil pulled his sword and lopped off his own left hand. He threw it past O’Dwyer and smacked it against the tree thus winning the contest.
This is why the tartan for the O’Neils is a bloody fist on a field of green and the O’Dwyers is a field of black.
This is true because Uncle John heard it told in an Irish pub in Cork.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: ½ c Raisin Bran w/almond milk & strawberries.  Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: Strawberry & Rhubarb cake with decaf Earl Grey Tea at Panera Bread El Camino.
Lunch: Subway 6 inch wheat bun veggie sandwich with no dressings, oils or cheese. Jamica tea from Beto’s Tacos. I love Jamica tea. It’s made from Hibiscus flowers. So yummy.
Snack: 4 Marshmallow Cookies.  I was weak.
Dinner: One soy corn dog and salad 
Snack: Water. I ate the cookies and the cake earlier. Bad day for calories and sugar.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dear Lord

Make the hips smaller
My chin only one
Those little lines crinkle
Only when I smile

Command my mouth shut
Near the dessert tray
Heated family fights
And committee meetings

Teach me to listen
When my husband shares
During Sunday’s sermon
The Spirit in my heart

Help my eyes to see
Beauty in each face
You created include
That aging mug of mine

Pamela Pimental 12/01/2010

$25 Well Spent

After my handy-guy, Rick, pull the office door off the hinges for me, I set about stripping wall paper off the door. My mother and husband had glued on the door a fantasy picture of what I think was an artist’s concept of Rivendell. Beautiful but overpowering.  My darling Paul enjoyed the oohs and ahs of visitors admiring the poster. His contribution to the décor of our home.
Wheelchair scrapes mark the lower side of the picture with the edges peeled back from the top corners closest to the heater vent. Without the dungeon master of role playing around to create excitement for the print, the door looked sad and damaged. I determined to remove it.
As in any project I endeavor, I have been thinking about how to do it for several months. Really. That is what I do. Over think e v e r y t h i n g…
I popped the door on two facing counter stools and scored the face with a box cutter in long X patterns.  With each cut, I prayed that my dearly departed was not fashioning lightning bolts to hurl down from heaven. I prayed he understood or at least forgave me for the desecration.  
Next I pulled out the Shark Steamer.
Three years ago, I managed to drag Mom out at 3:00 A.M. for the Black Friday Sale. You know the day after Thanksgiving. We stood in a long line in Macy's surrounded by stacks of electronic kitchen gadgets that included cake donut makers and George Foreman Grills. Crowds of the bargain hunters chatted about their quest for the ultimate deal.
I clutched my brand new Shark Steamer that usually costs $75. That morning I got the prize for only $25 and a small case of sleep deprivation. Totally worth it.
Now I could use this handy appliance not only on the kitchen floor but on the office door. As the machine does not work vertically, it was necessary to set the door flat. And as I sold our four saw stands when we moved from Fremont, thinking we would never need them again, the two counter stools had to do as supports. That did make the height of the horizontal door about four feet off the ground. So when I steamed a spot, moved it over, and then scraped the wallpaper in the ninety degree weather, my face received a good steaming from my Shark. Sweat dripped from my nose rewetting the area and eating through the glue. Despite that challenges the whole process took less than an hour with clean up.
Next morning the door got painted its boring white and hung. I could hear Paul’s “tsk-tsk” through the ceiling.
I do think he likes my choice in bedroom decor.
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: ½ c Raisin Bran w/almond milk.  Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: Carrots.
Lunch: Belgium pretzel with mustard and side salad at The Fat Rabbit Public House, Folsom California. Great little pub.
Snack: Cantaloupe
Dinner: Burritos with soy taco meat, soy cheese, avocado, salsa, lettuce, and black olives

Snack: Dark chocolate covered Acai and Blueberries