Sunday, August 24, 2008


Countdown could be on several things. For one, the garden is almost slowed to a stop. J actually picked a"mess" of pole beans this morning. I have always enjoyed gleaning the late beans, which included shellies. The tomatoes have slowed down substantially. I need to pick some green ones and make the green tomato relish we enjoyed so much last year. I probably need to do that this afternoon because next week promises to be busy. I have finished the apples, peaches and pears. The pear preserve is delicious. I found out that the Bartlett, which is the old, old tree in our garden, doesn't have enough natural pectin, so I needed to add pectin to that, which made it okay. Looks like honey, all golden and delicious. The old pear tree from my childhood home is the best for preserves. That produces a "red" preserve, which makes a nice syrup, and if you watch it, it won't get so hard that it pulls your caps. Yesterday, for lack of something from the garden to do, and wanting to get a little ahead on some things I like to do, I soaked and canned dry black beans and cranberry beans. That turned out well. The grand boys like those beans, thankfully, so they like it when Granny brings a care package of veggies.

My schedule next week is busy. Monday, we go for pre-admission for (1) my Tuesday morning PET scan and echo cardiogram, and (2) go by my surgeon's office to sign permission to proceed with the VAD on Friday. Tuesday at 7 a.m., we will be at the imaging center for the PET scan, to Cardiology at 10 for the echo, and if I understand rightly, scoot on over to Outpatient for lab work and possibly pre-admission for the VAD. Then, I visit my oncologist for results of the tests and further discussion on proceeding with chemo. Sometime Thursday, I will be getting a taped dictation from the Orthopedic clinic I have transcribed for the past possibly seven years, get that done, and be back to the hospital on Friday for placement of the VAD. My friend at ortho "lets" me help her when she needs a break, and we think this will help me keep focused and have something for my mind to "rest" on. I need to stay busy.

I have made quite a list of discussion questions for the oncologist. On Thursday, I will find out if my tests indicate that I am well for chemotherapy, or if one or so needs to be changed. I was given a booklet, "Finding the 'Can' in Cancer," which has some helpful information on preparing for the effects of chemotherapy. Since I have not had chemo previously, this will be a new adventure. So far, I have not worried a lot, went through the mastectomy without a hitch, but I have to admit, the prospect of chemotherapy is daunting. Next week, early on, I plan to visit the wig place and get my wig ordered. I want to be prepared if my hair starts thinning/falling out soon. Probably will have it cut short soon so that there won't be hair all over the house. I feel that would be off putting. With cooler weather coming on before very long, I probably will wear 'boggans a lot when I am outside. I plan to walk as much as possible for exercise around our garden where J keeps a track mowed/raked. I read that appropriate exercise is a good way to handle a lot of the issues of treatment.

Some time during the week, weather permitting, we will be gathering with J's sisters who live in the area to celebrate a sister's 84th birthday. We do that for all those siblings who are in the area. He has six sisters, four live in the area, one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee who gets to visit home fairly often. He is their only brother. I think it is neat that they make a point to celebrate birthdays together. We have lunch together at a buffet restaurant, talk and eat, and then usually gather at the retirement center where their 85-year-old sister resides, for more talk about "old times" and what each is doing and what their families are up to. Lot of good fellowship.

We have had a slow rain today which actually was cozy. Looks like the sun is out now, so I need to make my tour of the garden before it sets in again. Since J has picked the okra, the beans and 'maters, probably there won't be much for me to gather in. We have kept the scuppernongs picked pretty well, but there might be a few ripe ones.

This has been the nicest year for fruit and vegetables. My pantry is proof. I have been advised that there possibly/probably will be times when I am on treatment that I won't be interested in being in the kitchen, so J has been coached that he can have his choice of veggies that can be warmed in the microwave, and he can pick up prepared meat such as chicken, barbecue, etc., that won't smell up the house. He is a good cook, and I know he can handle that well. If need be, I will just sit on the deck if it gets too pungent in the house! I hear that one can be very sensitive to odors, but I'm not borrowing anything to worry about that this point. I was told that my treatments would be one per week, every three weeks, over the next year. Thankfully, we live about a mile or so from the hospital here, and that will be so much more convenient for us both.

Off to the garden, hoping that it won't be too muddy to enjoy a stroll around the track.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Celebrating, Our Style

J and I celebrated our 53rd anniversary today by planting our fall crop of turnips, mustard, yellow squash and zucchini. It was relaxing and fun, and we finished just before the rains came.

We had a leisurely lunch at our local catfish eatery and then came home to just have a relaxing afternoon inside. He did make a few trips to see if our newly planted garden was surviving the rain. Appears it did. With the hot weather and moisture, we wouldn't be surprised to see that the seedlings will be up in a day or two.

I think we will be glad to have this done. Next week will be kinda busy. On Monday, I will be doing my preadmission for my PET scan on Tuesday at 7 a.m. Later that day I will be getting an echocardiogram. These tests will determine if I am healthy enough for chemotherapy, and I guess will determine if I can have the standard kind. I really wish I could skip the chemo, but since the pathology labeled this "poorly differentiated," that pretty well says I need all the ammo I can get to not have this come back somewhere else, such as the chest wall. Cancer is not for sissies.

So, on Thursday of next week I will be seeing my oncologist to get further information. I have deferred getting my VAP installed because of a snaffoo in information I was given, and I'm afraid he was given, and I want further information from him before I proceed. It won't be a biggie to get the VAP after I talk with him. I started to vent here on the snaffoo but decided not to do it now. May later. All's well that ends well.

I meant to can tomatoes today and maybe do a few more pear preserves, but goofed off instead. So sue me. The tomatoes will still be there tomorrow. And the pears.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Unexpectedly, we made a trip to Prentiss County to my old home place. THE pear tree, which should have gone away years ago, was laden with pears at just the right stage for pear preserves. No one else wanted them, so gullible me, I brought a batch home. I have made preserves with them, made applesauce with the remainder of the apples, and have a few pears from our own Bartlett tree that I will do something with. I may make a pint or two of preserves, although Bartletts don't make the very best preserves.

Watching Food Network, I happened to jot down a recipe for a rub for chicken to be grilled or roasted. We had purchased a package of chicken leg quarters. I tried the rub and roasted the chicken pieces. This seemed so simple, but we were pleasantly surprised that it is quite delicious.

Combine 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. That's all. Rub into chicken breasts that have been pounded to thin pieces, or any pieces you choose. Grill or roast until done. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me.......

It's my party, and I can cry if I want to.......... Except I'm not cryin'. I have spent my 73rd birthday doing things I like to do, including doing a batch of apples from our pitiful tree that keeled over from the weight of the rain this spring. Said batch is going into a recipe in another post for mock dried fruit. We may not have another year for fruit such as this has been, and the canned product will last for a couple of years. The "fried pies" have been a hit. I don't fry the pies, but bake them, and they are simply delicious. Just ask my grandsons.

I am trying to get as many things taken care of as possible from the garden so as not to waste anything. I still have tomatoes to can, but as that is so easy I plan to take care of all of them. Juice is so easy to do.

The reason I am in kind of a hurry is that I found out yesterday from a first visit with my new oncologist that I will be doing chemotherapy for my recurrent breast cancer. I did not have chemotherapy 10 years ago. This all gets too technical to detail here. I am healing quite well from my mastectomy. The next move is to schedule the port for the sequential chemotherapy I will be receiving every three weeks for the next year. I am expecting to lose my hair, and I plan to visit my friends at the Tupelo Cancer Center who will help me decide where to go to order my wig to approximate my natural hair (I don't fancy baseball caps). I will be ordering a prosthesis soon, as I tend to "guard" my operated side and protect it much as a mother would a child, thus putting pressure on my already compromised shoulder. I don't need to do that and try to remember not to "give" to that side. Also, I am not waving a flag to say "look everybody, I have breast cancer!" I do feel very positive about my upcoming treatment and plan to make the most of it. I may be updating this blog with my progress or lack of.

Don't be surprised if I keep a log of my adventure. I have so many people on my "team" that I can't help being positive about the outcome. So----next!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peach Pie Anyone?

Today, anticipating a full but happy day with my daughter and granddaughter who stopped by on their way to her return to MUW, I had a phone call from my sister who wanted to verify a recipe for mock dehydrated peaches. She declares that that originally came from me, but that was so long ago that I really don't remember the origin. Wish I did. I believe her, though. This was timely, because I couldn't imagine what I wanted to do with the peach crop we had by some sort of miracle through this weird spring and dry summer.

I do plan to give this a try and see what gives:

Mock dehydrated peaches for pie filling

2 gallons peaches, washed and cut away from the seed in moderate size slices
1/2 cup vinegar
6 cups sugar

Combine and keep in a stainless steel or enamel container for 12 hours. Cook carefully, stirring to avoid sticking, until the consistency you want for pie filling. Put in sterile jars and probably wouldn't hurt to process in a hot water bath, although I bet some don't do that. I probably will.

This is great for "fried" peach pies or as a double crust pie you have baked in the oven. If after I have done this and think of something I've left out, I will add an addendum.

(IMPORTANT ADDENDUM) After cooking this ALL morning in a stainless steel stock pot, and its beginning to stick/burn, I called my sister-in-law, the best-cook-in-Prentiss-County, and asked her how much longer I was going to have to watch the pot. She asked, "Are you doing that in stainless steel?" I replied that I was. She said, "That's the trouble! You have to use heavy aluminum." I know the jury is out on cooking in aluminum, and I had thrown out a wonderful, heavy, aluminum Mirro cooker/canner just the right size but which had lost its handle and was too old to find a replacement. What to do. I decided to scrub out my larger Mirro canner that I have canned veggies in all summer (it holds 7 quart jars I think), and that worked wonderfully well. Just right for "cooking off" the rest of the fruit. At this time, I have canned 12 pints apple pie filling and that much or more of peaches. Wish I had more peaches. I will do more apples from the pitiful little tree that fell over from the rain and heavy fruit this spring.

My SIL is doing this with apples. As I remember, apples didn't yield the same results, but it might be worth a try. Since the peel of an apple is different from the peach, one needs to peel the apple before cutting into slices/chunks. That tough apple peel simply won't cook down, the peach peel will.

Guess what we're having Saturday when the kids are home........

PS: Father, daughter and granddaughter are transporting her to MUW but are retrieving her belongings her roommate had generously stored for her during the summer (in Carthage), so that will mean yours truly will be alone for the afternoon and evening, for one reason, limited space in the vehicle. I have napped, shelled butterbeans, prepared 'maters, loaded the dishwasher from the sumptuous lunch we had today. I'm so glad granddaughter is a veggie lover.
Next, I canned 2 1/2 pints butterbeans and cut off tomatoes to make another batch of tomato juice/soup for daughter to take home this weekend, along with a load of the beans, etc., I've been having such joy canning this summer. Before it gets too dark, I probably will gather a bucket of those peaches I have decided to make pie filling from. It was funny that I had already cut off about 2 quarts and froze them, not having any idea what I wanted to do with them. Thanks, sis!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Busy Weekend

Yesterday, Saturday, J brought a bucket of peaches from two scrawny trees that we never thought would bear again, what with the spring freezes just when the trees have bloomed. Well, whatever else the weather has wrought this year, several things have outdone themselves with almost more than we can take care of. Hurriedly, I pared and sliced and put peaches in the freezer, hoping for some cobblers if nothing else. I can't believe it! The peaches were so nice that I am thinking it would be great to save the seeds and transplant the seedlings to the tree farm where they can do as they please or not. Anyway, as a lark, I dumped several seeds in the leaf bin where the leaves are still moist/wet, and as we see many oak seedlings sprouting there, we just hope to get a few trees from these heirloom peaches. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess.

This afternoon, with the ox being in the ditch so to speak, I am making tomato paste from some tomatoes that I surely don't want to let waste. I am using the directions from the Ball Blue Book, and although that is fairly easy to do, it does take a little time to cook the juice down to about half volume. It is so delicious. I'm canning that in pints and didn't let it cook all the way to paste, so it will be delicious to heat a mug of that this winter, add a few spices, and enjoy! Admittedly, I am a tomato freak....

We're getting ready for a visit from our three children this coming weekend. Unfortunately, the spouses won't be able to be here and perhaps only three grandchildren, but we plan a feast of Southern veggies with a few extras thrown in. That will have to include cornbread, and I have a new bag of Sunflower cornmeal mix and a container of buttermilk all waiting to cook up a pone of bread. That is the only brand of mix I use, period. In one way it is sad that we don't have cornbread often, but on the other hand it saves us calories. J is diabetic and can't tolerate most breads, so I usually don't tempt him by having that around. We'll just have to go to Plan B here, because with certain veggies, you just do have cornbread.

I don't know how many veggies will be ready to "put up" this coming week. I will do something if I have to sit up at night and get that done; however, I canned a dozen pints of a combination of green beans and shelled beans--those that had gone on to mature. I think I am caught up on that for now, but probably there will be more cranberry beans and Christmas butterbeans, as well as a few lima beans. Maybe J will be able to help some with that. He has arthritis in his right shoulder, I have a left shoulder rotator cuff problem that failed surgical treatment, so we are a pair of bookends and it takes both of us to do some things. I will be collecting plenty of okra for family this week. I have marinated that in buttermilk and rolled in cornmeal and deep fried. It doesn't get better than that. We will have to go on a very limited fat diet right after this week!

I hear the timer, so it is time to remove the jars from the hot water canner. So pretty!