Friday, September 28, 2012

Robert Makes Me Laugh

Yesterday we took Tim with us to visit the Spring Judds, including, of course, Clara and Robert.

Clara was in school until 2:30, so Robert had a couple of hours as the sole center of our universe. I can't be around him for five minutes without laughing. He says such unexpected and funny things.

For instance . . . we had all just piled into Chris and Kelsey's car to head to a restaurant for lunch. Robert was buckled into his car seat and looking out the window. "Grandpa," he called out. "What's that?"

Grandpa, who was sitting in the front seat, directly in front of Robert, twisted his head around to see Robert, whose finger was smooshed up against the window and pointing in the direction of our car, which was parked next to us in the driveway.

"That's Grandma's car," said Grandpa.

"No!" said Robert. "It's a window."

Ha! Can't argue with that transparent logic! Grandpa failed the quiz.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' September Challenge - Empanada Gallega

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers' hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family's favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

I've ordered empanadas from Mexican restaurants in the States, and they were small, individual-sized flaky pastries, filled with sweetened fruit. But the empanada we were asked to make is the Spanish version, and in Spain an empanada is made family-sized. The dough is more of a bread dough; in fact it reminded me of pizza dough. Often times the top of the empanada is decorated with shapes and cut-outs of dough. The filling is usually a meat or fish filling, although it's not unheard of to fill a Spanish empanada with fruit.

I chose to make a ground beef filled empanada. I made a filling similar to what would go into a shepherds (or cottage) pie. It started with a combination of finely diced veggies - carrots, onions and celery - a medley known as mirepoix in French cuisine.

I sauteed the vegetables until the onions were starting to caramelize, then added ground beef, which I cooked until it lost its pink color. I added a tablespoon of flour and cooked a little longer, then poured in a cup of beef stock and added seasonings, including a little nutmeg and a little rosemary, salt and pepper. After the liquid began to thicken (from the addition of the flour), I set the mixture aside and make the dough (recipe found HERE).

Once the dough had risen I rolled it out, put it into a 10" pie plate and filled it with the cooled meat filling. The dough was soft and easy to handle. Though in this picture it looks like pie dough, remember it is actually a yeasty bread dough.

I decorated the top with heart cut-outs and silts to let the steam escape, then brushed the top with a wash composed of one egg and a tablespoon of water.

Then into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. 

The dough turned out tender and tasty, and the meat filling complemented it well. I was surprised how nice and crisp the bottom crust stayed, and how well each wedge held its shape when it was cut from the empanada and placed on a plate. Dan and I both agreed that this taste of Spain, hot from the oven, was a winner.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Together Again

It's been almost eight months since we left Albuquerque behind, which means it's been almost eight months since we've seen our younger son, Tim! When we were in Albuquerque, we lived only about a mile or two from him. During the week, when all three of us were working full-time, we seldom saw each other, but we made a point of meeting up on Saturday mornings for breakfast and conversation. I've really missed that weekly custom . . . which, interpreted, means I've really missed Tim!

On Friday afternoon, though, Tim arrived to spend his vacation time with us. It was his first time to drive the twelve-hour route between Albuquerque and Temple, and he gained a new-found appreciation for all those round-trips Dan and I made in preparation for our move. In fact, he's saying, "Next time I'm flying!"

Washing the bugs and road grime off his car

Saturday morning we picked up where we left off, and had breakfast together at a local cafe. Ahh, that just felt RIGHT! Today we're planning a picnic lunch at the lake. As for the rest of the week, we have made plans to go see Chris, Kelsey, Clara and Robert on Thursday; we've talked about possibly driving up to Waco to see their zoo one day; we'll probably attend the fish-fry that is on our church calendar next Saturday; and, one day, Tim wants to go, by himself, to explore the Austin area. I hope his GPS brings him back!

(Note regarding previous post: Perhaps you can tell, by all the activities we have planned, that the cortisone injections have worked wonders. My knees are no longer hurting, and there's a smile on my face.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Knees and Needles

In Albuquerque, a few years ago, I went to an orthopedic surgeon about my gimpy and painful knees. At one point he injected cortisone into the worst knee, and it worked wonders for almost six months! But he discouraged me from doing that over and over, and said when I was ready he'd be happy to do a total knee replacement, since the left knee was bone-on-bone and the right knee was not far behind that.

I never went back to him. I didn't feel ready for such drastic measures. I told myself that once I got settled in Temple I'd visit a doctor here, at Scott and White, and get a second opinion. I had heard such good things about S&W, and was looking forward to being near such a top-notch healthcare facility.

I have been waiting to get into a doctor for several weeks. I had a get-acquainted appointment scheduled for Oct. 1. But this week my "good knee," the right one, totally failed me! It was so painful that I even had trouble just walking around the house, without hanging on to furniture or walls. So I called the doctor's office yesterday morning, the one I had an October appointment with, and asked if I could possibly get in that same day to see my doctor, since I was in pain. "Of course!" I was told. Wow! That's a different response than I was used to from Albuquerque.

So around 11:00 a.m. I was sitting in Dr. N's examining room. She is a young, smart and competent physician. (Dan has already been seeing her.) We talked about my history. She told me that based on that history, she'd forgo taking x-rays that day, because it was clear what my problem was. She asked me if I'd ever had cortisone injections, and I told her about my one-time experience. She was pleased to hear that it had been so effective for a fairly long time.

She suggested that we treat both knees, once again, with cortisone and see how they do. She said that as long as I can get by without pain, with no more than three injections per knee per year, it might be best to put off surgery - though, of course, it would be my choice. Her reasons sounded logical: Every year sees an advance in artificial joint research and development and, therefore, better products become available; and, since there is a predicted life-span for the artificial joints, the longer I wait, the better chance there is that I would not need a re-do on them at sometime down the road.

If you know me at all you know I have a terrible needle phobia, but I agreed to the treatment. That must tell you how badly my right knee was hurting. Dr. N was very skilled, and the injections didn't really hurt too much, but, due to my phobia, I was light-headed afterward. I was glad that Dan was with me so he could drive me home.

Dr. N told me the cycle I should expect. Yesterday I would feel some relief, only because there was some numbing medicine included in the injection. Today and tomorrow I would probably be hurting again, since the steroid wouldn't yet be fully effective. But by Friday or Saturday both knees should feel good. It's only the next day, and already I'm feeling much, much better. I'm actually back to my brand of "normal", which isn't great, but which is what I'm used to dealing with. So I think my prospects of getting even more relief over the next few days is very good.