Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Did you try it?

Did you try the turkey for Thanksgiving?

 If so, how was your experience?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Easy, Perfect Turkey (with photos)!

After Amy was born (third-born) I was desperate to get out of the house and do something fun. Tom was extremely sweet and signed me up for a series of 13 cooking classes. One of these classes focused on a recipe for orange chicken. It was fine, but I tried it with a turkey and it was 10x better.

So, first off, forget everything you think you know about preparing a turkey. Wash it alllll away.
And keep in mind that this will seem like more work than it is... kind of like trying to explain how to tie a shoe. There are more words to describe it than movements to it! hehe


When choosing your turkey, do everything you can to find one that is fresh, never frozen. The texture and taste of fresh turkeys are so much better than frozen.

It is best to not cook a bird that weighs more than 12-13 pounds. If you have a large family and need more turkey, then consider cooking two. It is a pain, but once turkeys get too big they tend to bake unevenly and dry out considerably. Anyway, not a hard and fast rule, but worth considering if you have the time and space.

Before you begin to prepare the turkey for baking, take it out of the refrigerator, and set on the counter for at least 30 minutes. You need to bring it as close to room temperature as possible. This will help it to cook evenly and keep it moist.

Get out your roasting pan (doesn't have to be huge) and line it with parchment paper. Only because it will make cleaning up the pan a breeze.

While you are waiting for it to warm up, get out your ingriedients:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Yellow onion

Slice the oranges into fourth wedges per orange. Onions should be halved, and then cut into four wedges each half.

Rosemary and Thyme (as well as other dried herbs) should *always* be ground before seasoning your dish. Grounding herbs releases oils which makes your dishes that much  more aromatic and tasty! I use a mortar pestle, because it's awesome! But you can also just roll the herbs between your fingers to release the oils.

Wash the bird. And DRY it with paper towels. I had always heard this, but thought it was goofy, so I never dried it. Turns out, if you don't dry it, it won't brown correctly. And half the battle of a turkey is a great, golden color!

Hold the bird up so that you can easily season the inside of the turkey. Throw in some salt (don't be stingy--the juices will wash away a lot of the salt), pepper, and the herbs. Then squeeze a couple of orange wedges into the bird, then throw the whole thing into the turkey. Alternate between stuffing onion and orange wedges (squeezing the juice out first...all over the bird, inside and out) into the cavity. Then pour 2-3 tablespoon olive oil into/over the produce. This helps to... actually, I have no idea, but it makes the onions smell amazing when they are baking!

Now for the outside of the turkey:
Pour olive oil over turkey and rub it in.
Salt it well, but don't go crazy. I have used sea salt before, and it doesn't work... much too salty.
And then throw the rest of the herb mix all over the turkey, making sure you get under the wings and drumsticks.

Stick it in the oven. All ovens vary, so this is a difficult call. I had to use 350 at my old house. I tried 350 in this oven, but it was too hot. Most likely your oven will need to be anywhere between 325 and 350.

Here's the most important piece of information. DO. NOT. open the oven door. At all. Just "Set it, and forget it!"  There is no basting required. In fact, if you try to baste your turkey, you fail!
                                             Why no basting?  Two reasons:
 1) opening your oven door cools the oven down by 20-30 degrees every time you do it. This means the oven over-compensates to try and get the temperature back up, and this will result in a very dry, unappetizing turkey.
 2) After about 15 minutes of being in the oven, the turkey skin will begin to crisp which means it will become a barrier to any liquids poured onto it. So just say no to basting. It does no good. And it's a hassle!  We don't need more hassles, do we?

So now the turkey is in the oven and is just sitting there baking away! (Turn on the oven light and watch if you must, but leave it be!) In my experience the cooking time on the turkey package is way off... much too much time.

For my 12 lb turkey it took about 2.5 hours. (None of this all day business anymore! With prep and baking, it takes about 3 to 3.5 hours.) It may take you a few turkeys before you know the perfect time to check on your bird.

 But for this week I would say go for two hours and then check with your meat thermometer. Which reminds me...

That stupid thermometer that comes with the turkey... throw it away. It's useless.

 By the time that thing pops, your turkey is way past done. If you don't have a meat thermometer go out today and buy one. They are $5-6 for a cheap one (which is the one I use), but you can get fancy, expensive ones if that makes you feel more confident. Bake your turkey until the thermometer reads 165. Once that temp is reached, remove your turkey from the oven, and allow it to cool for at least an hour. The resting time will allow the juices to stay in the meat once the bird is sliced. (Recently I read that you should allow your meat to rest as long as it took for it to bake/cook. That seems like an awfully long time for things like turkey and pork, but I went with 1.5 hours today.)

Take out the oranges and onions so that it can cool off faster. Discard the produce. 

Invest in an electric knife. I love it! It really makes slicing turkey (and chicken) much, much easier.

I have yet to master carving a turkey, but this YouTube helped me figure it out last year.

And that, my friends, will be the best turkey you've ever had.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coconut butter

Sorry... we've had some serious issues around here to deal with, and I've found little time to do much of anything lately.

We had somebody give us four or five jars of coconut butter... anybody have some good ideas on how to use it?


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Comments Change

I'm very sorry, but I've had to move the "comment" settings from anybody can comment as an "anonymous" to "Name; including Open ID" I believe ID means you can choose a "screen name" if you are too afraid to put your real name.

I know some people are uncomfortable of logging in and would prefer to just be unknown, but that setting has been flooding my email with spam, and it has not upped the number of "real" comments on the blog, so I'm spending more time deleting spam than I am reading real email and/or comments.

Very sorry.

Coconut Spread and Answers to Reader's Question(s)

 Hi all

I've pretty much done nothing but sleep and order supplements from various pharmacies. 

I had a few questions from readers about my tests and which supplements I'm taking, I'll get to that in just a minute, but I want to share a coconut recipe I came up with. 

My daughter is going on a field trip tomorrow, and the instructions were very clear on bringing a sack lunch, which means no meat and nothing that needs to be heated before eating. Uh... yeah, that eliminates just about everything we eat. Well, I suppose I could make it work for me, but Veronica needs a lot of protein, doesn't care for nuts, and only eats jerky every once in a while... so I broke down and bought a tortilla, spread it with natural peanut butter, and ... 
yeah, that was hard.. what do I put on top of it?  I wanted something high fat that wouldn't spoil from being outside. So I thought coconut would work well, but that seems too tasteless to a little kid, so I pulled out my Magic Bullet and mixed up coconut oil (in its solid state) and maple syrup. Whipped it up and spread it on the peanut butter. It was really good!

Even though the tortilla is NOT primal, I really liked this for a kid's lunch. It has great quality fats, protein, and antioxidants (from the real maple syrup), and fiber from the tortilla. I think she can last the day with that lunch... which also included some cranberries, dark chocolate, and carrots. 

Coconut Spread:

1/3 cup coconut oil (solid form in glass jar...be sure it says "unrefined" )
1 tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
Place both ingredients in to a Magic Bullet (I'm not sure how well a regular blender would work since the blades sit up too high, usually). And spin for about a minute. 
Serve as a dip or spead. 

I think the syrup might seperate from the coconut a little bit, but all you need to do is quick stir and you'll be set.  

Also, butter would work really, really well with the syrup. Raw butter (or this)!


For the reader who asked about the Thyroid tests the Dr ordered:

T4 (thyroxine), Total
Thyroid peroxidase and thyroglubulin antibodies
thyroglobulin antibodies
thyroid peroxidase antibodies

I have no idea what most of those mean. According to the numbers I am right in the middle of what is low normal and high normal, which I guess makes me pretty normal. 
According to Dr. Klug, I do have (severe) adrenal fatigue and it's not reflected in my thyroid panel (yet) because it doesn't happen simultaneously, the thyroid failure comes after not treating the adrenal fatigue for so long. 

Somebody asked if I had a second opinion for the Adrenal Fatigue diagnosis. 

 No, I haven't. I've asked for help for ten years without one doctor taking me seriously (obviously exempt from this are my chiropractors), and I am not really in the mood to fight with a new doctor over it. I am really surprised you and your doctor would continue cortisol for 18 months if you saw no change. Dr. Klug is starting me out at 5mg, over the course of three weeks I could work up to 15mg if needed. She says as soon as I start to experience negative side effects, or no improvement after taking it for two weeks, then we will re-evaluate. I'm okay with her diagnosis since I do have every symptom of AF and my labs show the same results.  Thank you for the suggestion!

Lastly, what supplements/meds am I taking:

Pro Super Food (F3)
Adaptogen -R3
Liquid D3--4 drops (8,000 IU)
Methylcobalamin (B12)
Pancever (haven't taken this yet since no one seems to know what it is). 
A muscle relaxant and pain pills as needed from my M.D.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


It's been a long few weeks.  I'm still in Physical therapy 2-3 times a week. Resting a lot. And pretty much... it's been depressing. I want to be up and doing things, but at the same time it doesn't matter, because I just can't make myself do it. 

Dr. Klug has my blood work results, so I drove over an hour into Kansas to go over it. 

Basically my thyroid seems to be functioning just fine. I was happy, perplexed, and shocked all at the same time. How could that be if I have every symptom of hypothyroidism?  Dr. Klug said she can't figure it out ... she was sure I had a severe thyroid problem.  Well... good news, I suppose. 

Moving on... I'm not anemic. My cholesterol is 215, but that's only up 15 points in the last 11 years, and it's considered very good considering my family's history with it (I have a brother whose cholesterol was 900!), so I'm not too worried about it. There were a few other numbers that were higher than they should be, but she says it's due to pain, which in turn makes these numbers rise, so she's not going worry about it other than to say it should top priority to get my pain eliminated. Sounds good to me. 

So here's what Dr. Klug did find out:

:::Drum roll:::

I have Adrenal Exhaustion!   Also known as "your body is completely wiped out"

 Now, I did ask a doctor or two to check for this, but I got the same usual answer:  ::patronizing smile:: You don't need that. You're young. You just need to not eat so much and exercise a lot more.   Psssh. Hey, buddy, if I can weather several pregnancies, attend and graduate college, move my family four times AND take care of my kids who are very needy (medically speaking), all while feeling like a truck ran over me, backed up, and ran over me again, then I am pretty sure I'm much stronger of a person than you'll ever be. So shut it.  <end rant>

I actually cried when she told me the diagnosis. I didn't sob or anything like that, but I definitely needed a tissue. I said "you wouldn't believe how many people have told me to "just stop eating" or "if you would just exercise" or commenting on my mood, or being tired, or..., or..., or. She said "Yes, those things don't work for you because you're body thinks you're about to die, or course you can't do those things!" 

If you read the link about then you know a bit about what your adrenals do. Mine are function at 1.7 which is about 2% of what they should be.  Dr. Klug said "no wonder you are so tired all of the time! according to your adrenals, you're nearly dead!" She says my body is starting to shut down because of the low numbers. Not shutting down in the sense that I'm dying, but that my body just can't handle stress and activity like it should. 

She asked why I all of sudden felt worse than usual. After talking things over, she believes it was the move that drove me of the edge, so to speak.  I did move everything (except for my kitchen...a friend helped with that) boxed, packed, unloaded, unpacked, all of it, on my own. Tom had a series of trips out of town, and I really wanted to surprise him with an intact house we he finally came back home. 
I suppose she's right, because that was just about the time the blog really started to suffer--I was just too tired--when my pain became worse, the depression set in...blah blah blah.

So I asked her "what do I need to do in order to get better?" 

She said I have to sleep. A lot. (that sounds good to me!) 

I have to find the stressors and eliminate them out of my life. (Easier said than done, I suppose, but I'll try.)

I have to eat well. Drink a lot of water. (Can do.)

I have to learn to listen to my body. So if I'm out running errands and realize I feel tired, I have to go home and sleep. 

I can't be a "list person" (some would say "Type A") anymore. I have to choose one or two small goals for the day and don't go beyond that.  (Booooooo!)

I'll be taking a handful of supplements. One of which is a steroid, it's not a strong one like Prednisone, but one your body already makes naturally and in very low levels. (I can't remember what it's called. Darn it.)

 Anyway, the idea is that it gives your adrenals a rest, which means they can rest up enough to start working on their own someday.

"Sooo, how long should this process take?" I ask. 

"It really just depends on how much sleep/rest you get, and how well you follow the supplement schedule. But I'd say it could be anywhere from 6 to 18 or 24 months."

Do what now?!  6 months... okay, fine. But 1-2 years of just sleeping and quiet/low stress level chores?? Ewww. I am not excited about this at all.  Of course part of me wants to write the doctors who said "no" to me, and say "I'd be all better by now if you had just run the test!" but I suppose that wouldn't be very Christ-like.  Oh well, between Dr. Klug and Dr. Rob, I'm sure I'll be doing much better by this time next year. 

I have a lot of research to do on this. The cure for Adrenal Exhaustion is totally not who I am and I still can't quite get my head around it.

 The saddest part for me is that I am going to have to put Elizabeth is daycare/homecare. I've never had any of my kids in daycare or preschools. I personally believe kids should be with their mothers for the first five (if not longer... depending on the child) years of their life. Of course, there are always exception to the rule.  I have a meeting with a couple who runs a daycare out of their home. They don't have kids watch TV or movies (except on Friday mornings when it's Movie Mornings), they are fans of Love and Logic when it comes to discipline, they obviously love children, and they have a very structured, but still fun schedule. And for the last few months Elizabeth has demanded so much attention that I just can't keep up with her. Last week she told me she needs a backpack because she wants to go to school. It made me chuckle when she found an old one, and then stepped into the van saying "I go skholl!" So, who knows, maybe she will be overall more happy at this place a few times a week. 

I guess some of the good news is that once I recover from this, and getting the progesterone supplement adjusted, Dr. Klug thinks I should go on to have normal pregnancies. She says those who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum typically have it because the body is too low on progesterone (but not low enough to cause a miscarriage) and also the Adrenal Fatigue because it is too much of a stressor.  So good news, I suppose.

I asked about losing weight and why it just suddenly stopped even when I was eating very well. She said because stress put on the body to lose weight is such that the adrenals just wouldn't allow the process to go forward. I told her I've gained 10 lbs just by sitting in bed (thanks to these muscle issues) and I couldn't understand it since I've had very little appetite. She says "Yes, that's common. That is how much your body is in "conservation mode" It really believes you are starving and in grave danger so it will absolutely store anything you eat and not burn it.

So my orders for now are to go to bed as soon as I'm tired. Do not set an alarm and sleep as late as possible. Do one or two small chores. Get a nap. Eat well. And let go of stress. 

I have to figure out a way for food to fit in to our lives in a way that doesn't require me to be on my feet all day, and doesn't drive Tom batty.  I am going to confess that last week we went to Sam's Club and stocked up on a lot of meats that are ready to be popped into the oven. Tom has had to take over pretty much the whole house, the kids, AND work, so food has been a big hurdle. I ended up buying some cereal (with coconut milk) for the kids. Given all the allergies breakfast has become nearly impossible to navigate without it taking an hour or two. 

She says I may have one or two other underlying conditions, but we can't get to those until I get my adrenals better. 

So if you are of the religious type please consider offering a few prayers for me and my family. It's going to be a pretty big adjustment on everyone.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Very Easy Fudge Bites

Regina (9) loves to make new recipes. She put together this fudge recipe!  She calls them Smudge Balls or Smudged Fudge.

50 chocolate chips. 1-2 tbls coconut milk

Pour into small bowl

Microwave about 25 seconds.

Pour off obvious excess of liquid. Stir well.

Use spoon to drop the mixture onto a paper plate. And freeze for about 20 minutes.

Take out of freezer, and let it sit for five minutes. Serve!