Friday, July 29, 2011

Vultures, Teenagers, Oh My!

DH had some leftover ground beef and didn't know what to do with it.  I said to bag it up and I'd make an easy dinner of it the next night.  My thought was my all time favorite "Hamburger Beanie Wienie."  That's what my mom always called it even though it never involved wienies or a hot dogs... whatever one wants to call it.  The recipe came from an odd source and had no name.

I was 7 when my mother told me I'd be staying with the neighbors for about half an hour as she'd be late getting home that day.  "GREAT!" is what I thought sarcastically as I didn't like Clifford our neighbor's son.  He was 1 year older than me and 100 times more naughty.  He bullied my brother and I on our own swing set.  He ran around my parents new car dragging an untwisted wire hanger leaving about 10 circular scratches on the paint.  And on the day I was to STAY at their hose for 1/2 an hour he escorted me into their house like I was a prisoner of war.  Thank goodness he didn't have any rope.

One very good thing came of this day though was his mother had made the most delicious after school snack.  I recognized ground beef.  I recognized beans, but other than that I had no idea what was in it.  I just knew it was delicious.  When my mother came to rescue me... err...pick me up I told her about this wonderful concoction and that she needed to get the recipe.  As all good mother's she did go ask for the recipe.  Ground beef and Pork N' Beans.  That was the recipe.  I'm not sure why, but that combo makes the most delicious taste sensation.

So, last night after a long day at the lake I made this easy and delicious recipe.  My daughter and her 4 friends were going to stay and visit a while after their day at the lake.  On the way home these teenagers had their own money and were so hungry they asked if I'd drive them by our local Mexican Restaurant for take out.  Since I hadn't planned dinner for 5 hungry teens I thought this was a good idea.  They ate and went on with their business and I made dinner for my husband and me.  DH wasn't going to be home for a couple hours, but this recipe is better warmed up later.

As I was leaving the kitchen to go take my shower one of my daughter's friends came into the kitchen.  I knew she hadn't purchased as dinner and she said she was looking for food.  I pointed at the skillet and told her she was welcome to have some the dinner I had fixed.  She had one bite and declared it delicious and prepared herself a bowl.  I went to take a shower.  Then I blew my hair dry.  Then I watched a show on the TV in my room and I jokingly said, "I better go put DH's dinner in the fridge as I don't want to leave it unattended in a house full of teenagers."  When I saw the nearly empty skillet my eyes did that thing that cartoon characters eyes do when they are surprised by what they see.
I think the sound "arooga" trumpeted in the background.

When I offered the dinner to my daughter's friend it was because I knew she ate like a bird.  Now the old joke of "She eats like a bird... yeah a vulture" was coming to mind.  This recipe is really good stuff.  I checked the clock and quickly texted my husband that he needed to pick himself up something for dinner on the way home.  He called and asked what happened and we both had a good laugh.  So, seriously folks don't leave food unattended when you have teenagers in your house.  It's no joke!

Here's the recipe.  Over the years we've tweaked it just a little, but it's basically the same.

Hamburger Beanie Wienie
1 med onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 28 ounce can Pork N' Beans
garlic powder and season salt to taste

Saute' onion until soft.  Add ground beef.  Cook and break up the ground beef until cooked all the way through.  No pink left.  Add can of Pork N' Beans making sure to scrap all the sauce out of can.  Season with garlic powder and season salt to taste.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gallbladder Removal

It's been a long time coming.  2 weeks after my first born came along I had what I call a Gallbladder attack.  I had never been to an emergency room in my life and within 2 weeks I had been there twice.  My son was 5 weeks early due to my water breaking this is how my first trip went down.

2 weeks after the birth I was back in with this dang gall bladder.  Everyone remembered me and were happy to see my son.  "Hello! Woman in great pain here!" I think is what I said in my cranky painful gallbladder stupor.  This stopped the group from oogling my baby and back to me and my pain.

The attack went away as quickly as it came on.  I got no pain meds as I was nursing.  After an ultrasound showed I had no gallstones they said, "Lucky you only one stone."  I was sent home.

I was so worried for years.  I wondered when was I going to have another big attack.  From then on my gall bladder ached from time to time.  When I was pregnant with my daughter my only real physical concern I had was that dang gallbladder.  It ached 24/7.  I asked my Dr. about it and she said we'll cross that bridge when it comes.  Nothing came of it thank goodness.  After my daughter was born the aching let up.

Over the last 20 years I've had about 4 gallbladder attacks.  Each ultrasound revealed no gallstones.  Each time I got the "Lucky you" response.  About 4 years ago my gall bladder started back to aching every day pretty much all day.  No change in diet would change it.  I just learned to live with it.  Waiting for "The BIG One" to come along and force the doctors to take it out.
I've felt like doing this a time or 2 myself!

I got to thinking this year I really need to get to the bottom of this as I plan on doing some traveling and I don't want to be in another country when my gall bladder finally fails.

I talked to my doctor about it.  Again I got an ultrasound and no action.  In June I finally put my foot down and asked my doctor, "Why do I have to live like this in pain and waiting for a full on gallbladder attack?"  She said, "I'll send you to nuclear medicine and they can do a test on you to measure the functioning of your gallbladder.  Hallelujah it's about time!

A nuclear medicine scan of the gallbladder is used to produce a set of images that look like x rays. The procedure uses a small amount of radioactive dye which is injected into the body. The dye accumulates in the organ, in this case, the gallbladder. A special camera called a scintillation or gamma camera produces images based on how the dye travels through the system and how the radiation is absorbed by the tissues.  This whole thing took about 2 hours of laying quite still.
What they found in me is no gallstones, no blockages, but a gallbladder functioning at 10%.  The Dr. called the next day and said, "Yeah that thing needs to come out."  What a great relief that the Dr. believed me and to finally hear those word.  All these years I've felt I had a ticking time bomb in me.
I was really surprised at how quickly they could get me in and how well it worked into my schedule.  My family and I didn't need to rearrange anything to fit this in.  DH took a few days off from work.  My teens are home for the summer.  One of my teens drives, which is REALLY handy.
The family is working really hard to make me comfortable including my poodle.  I went in at 6am and was home before noon.  My poodle though just knew something was up.  When I got into bed upon returning home my poodle uncharacteristically sniff my torso all over and then curled up with me.  If one could understand this she had this strange look of concern in her eyes.  DH kept trying to remove her she didn't want to budge.  He didn't want her to jump on me, so I understood his concern.  I assured him I'd make sure she didn't.  So, curled up next to me with her head on my belly she stayed.  She's played a major part in my recovery.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chocolate Gravy!

"Would you like some chocolate gravy?" my great aunt asked my brother and me.  We along with our mother were visiting our Oklahoma relatives for the summer.  I was 9 and my brother was 7.  This particular time we stayed the night at Great Aunt Imogene's house along with a whole passel of cousins our age.  Everyone at this house were strangers to us and we were there for the summer to get to know everyone.  Again, she asked us, "Would you like some chocolate gravy?"  My brother and I looked at each other with giant grins that said "Who wouldn't want chocolate gravy!"  We said, "Yes please!"  We had never heard of chocolate gravy, but it sounded glorious.  My mother is a great cook and she makes terrific gravy, chicken, beef, cream, giblet, but never chocolate gravy.  Not only were we getting to know our extend family, but a way of life we had never experienced.

There were probably 10 of us cousins sitting around a couple tables pushed together.  We had pancakes with Chocolate gravy.  It was as wonderful as we thought.  The other cousins couldn't believe we had never had it.  They had it every weekend.

We had a wonderful summer in Oklahoma, but when it was time for school to start back home to Michigan we went.  Oddly, chocolate gravy was never spoken of ever again.

Fast forward nearly 30 years and I have kids of my own.  Some how the memory of chocolate gravy came up and I knew I wanted to find a recipe.  I went online and many searches and studying of recipes I decided on one I thought would make a gravy like my childhood memory.  My son was having a sleep over that weekend and I thought what a perfect time to try it out.

I made the chocolate gravy and it turned out just as great as I remembered it.  I then went on to make pancakes.  By this time all the boys were awake and at the table.  I asked them, "Would you like chocolate gravy on your pancakes?"  Four little faces turned and gave me that look I knew my brother and I had to given our Great Aunt Imogene.  That expression that says "what the heck are you talking about and heck yes" all in one look.  It was precious.
Great on biscuits too.
Many pancakes and many ladels of chocolate gravy later they were all full and thought it was the greatest stuff they'd every eaten.  One of the 10 year boys liked to cook.  He immediately after breakfast asked if he could have the recipe.  I gave him the recipe, a blank card and a pencil.  I thought he might like it in his own hand writing.  Later that afternoon one of the boys' mother called and said her son wanted her to get the recipe for chocolate gravy.  She said "chocolate gravy" like she was asking for a unicorn.  I assured her it was a real recipe.

The next day the final boy called.  I asked if he wanted the recipe and he said yes.  I told him I'd give it to his mom when I saw her at school.  He said, "No, my mom doesn't cook, but can I give your telephone number to my grandmother?"  A few minutes later Grandma called laughing saying she's supposed to get a recipe for chocolate gravy.

Great with sliced bananas too.
Chocolate Gravy

2 T butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa

Add butter and flour to pan on medium heat.  Stir until incorporated.  Add milk, sugar and cocoa.  Whisk until thick.  Serve with biscuits, pancakes and/or waffles.