Sunday, August 25, 2019

Food Prep this week: August 26-30

By Elizabeth Prata

How has your weekend been? Busy? I use the weekend to prepare for the week, so it's not really two days off, except for church. It's still a treadmill. If I let go for a moment, I'm behind all week. Do you feel that way?

Friday nights I'm pretty tired. At the beginning of the school year, coming off 8-9 weeks of straight rest, it's a Mt. Everest of a climb to get back into routine. On Friday nights I'm good for nothing, except staring numbly out the window, uncomprehending and body aching as if I have the flu.

Saturdays at the beginning of the year take me usually until 3:00 in the afternoon or so to 'come to'. That's not to say that I do nothing. Indeed, I get up between 5:30 and 6:00 am and get to work writing 5 blogs for the week and creating 5 scripture pictures for the week. I like to have them ready to publish when I arise on weekday mornings at 5:00.

As I study the Bible during the week, or listen to lessons or sermons, I plop ideas, verses, and information & links into drafts. Saturday mornings are when I flesh these out into completed essays. My goal is to encourage and to teach women, and to keep myself in the word, since I process things by writing.

I usually work on this until I get mentally tired, about 1:00 or 2:00. Then I take a nap. When I awaken at 3:00, I feel like myself again. I usually study my lessons from The Master's Seminary. I'm working toward a certificate in Sound Doctrine. I might feel like myself (body aches gone), mentally more alert. But I'm still way physically tired and don't do many chores.

This leaves laundry, vacuuming, change sheets, and food prep to it becomes not a day of rest. But that will happen soon, as I move more chores to Saturday when I'm feeling less tired and gain equilibrium again.

Food prep this week!

Red lentil soup with mushrooms, carrots, and tomatoes. This will be lunch every day.

Types of lentils. Photo The Kitchn, link to article below

Last week I had brown lentil soup. What's the difference between the types of lentils? The folks at The Kitchn explain, sharing some recipes too. Lentils are actually not a bean, or a pea, but are a pulse. Pulses are related to beans and peas. I prefer the red lentil because they have just as much protein and fiber, are a bit sweeter than the brown, and they turn to mush and thus, thicken the soup. I like thick soups.
  • Blackened Tilapia (2 servings). I bought one large, seasoned piece and cut it in half to make 2 servings
  • Turkey sandwiches
  • Green Beans with tofu and peanuts sauted in soy sauce.
  • Eggplant-mushroom saute
  • Kale with mushrooms (cold and hot; salad, and sauted)
  • Hummus with veggies.
  • Strawberries. LOL, I bought 3 pounds so that will be my main fruit for dessert and snacks
I hope you all have a great Sunday, hopefully worshiping the Lord. Our church begins at 3:00 (a new Sunday School series begins next week, so that will be moved back to 2:00). I enjoy the mornings preparing for church and usually like to keep the morning clear to do just that. Have a super week ahead!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Food Prep this week

By Elizabeth Prata

Good morning! I've got some cooking going on. People tell me they really enjoy the Facebook posts on food prep and the blog essays on cooking. Thank you! I decided to expand it a little and share my reasoning for why I cook the things I do. :)

This is the last week I'm on the elimination FODMAP diet to see what is causing the IBS. Monash University in Australia has made a scientific breakthrough regarding foods that give people trouble who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I've given up gluten, having become intolerant to it. The doctor told me that there are 3 levels of food issues, sensitive, intolerant, and allergic. I have a family member with Celiac disease (allergic to gluten) and over the years I've developed an intolerance to gluten myself. So I gave up all gluten/wheat food items.

I am also intolerant of lactose. So I gave that up too. No more yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit for dessert, just fruit. I can get lactose-free milk at my regular grocery store. I can get lactose free yogurt too, but it's prohibitively expensive  and a lower cost than l-f yogurt. There is no l-f cottage cheese where I shop so that's that. I was still having issues adn I was really stumped. My doctor put me onto this Monash-FODMAP issue and it seems to be the answer for me.

I'll be excited to see which foods will be added back into my diet now that the elimination of foods containing FODMAPs have been taken out. And yes, when I took out the gluten it helped, and the elimination of lactose helped. But I wasn't completely free of bowel issues, and the FODMAP elimination helped resolve it.

But FODMAPs cover such a wide range of foods that it's not wise nor practical to eliminate all of them from one's diet forever. So there's an important step 2: after a suitable time on the eliiation diet to let the bowel and digestive system rest, now add back in small groups of FODMAP foods under controlled conditions to see what is causing the irritation in the digestive system. Click on the link above to learn about foods containing FODMAPs.

 Meanwhile, this week's food prep-


-Lentil soup with mustard greens, carrots, garden green peppers, and celery. Curry spices. This'll be for lunch every day.

-Fresh green beans with tofu cubes, teriyaki sauce and crushed peanuts on top. Tofu is a versatile and inexpensive protein. It also has the advantage of keeping longer uncooked than seafood or meat.

-Shrimp was on sale at Kroger so I bought half a pound, about 20 medium-large shrimp. This yields 4 servings, or about 50 cents per protein meal. I try to keep my protein servings under $1 each. I'll eat them cold with spinach salad.

--Crabcake with mustard greens and a potato on the side. A prepared stuffed crab at Kroger is $1. I cooked a bunch of potatoes in the crock pot yesterday. Add some potatoes to the crock with a half cup of water, turn on high, and they cook pillow soft in about two hours. You don't even have to spear them, just wash and put in. Now I have potatoes for the week without having to heat up the kitchen boiling them for a long time. Forget about baking them, it's too hot to turn on the oven in GA in August.


--I've been gifted 3 garden eggplants. I'll saute them with mushrooms and a can of tomatoes for a kind of hash. You can add this to spaghetti (or spaghetti squash), add rice, put on crusty bread with mozzarella, throw some greens in it (I prefer spinach with eggplant) or just eat as a side dish.

--Homemade hummus*. Chick peas are low FODMAP friendly! Cut up carrots & celery for dipping. Or rice crackers.

-Groats for breakfast. These are the whole oat. They are chewy and filling. Think the consistency of wild rice. I add strawberries or blueberries with lactose free milk. I love it cold! But you can heat it too for a healthy low carb, low fat, no-gluten breakfast! (1/2 cup serving of groats is 15 carbs, milk is 15 more).


-Notwithstanding the illegal donut I had on Friday, my desserts are usually fruit. This week I have strawberries, blueberries, grapes, a few mandarin oranges left from last week, and pineapple.


Popcorn, almonds, peanuts, slice of turkey, rice crackers with peanut butter, cheese (cheddar or other aged cheeses are more easily tolerated for lactose sensitive or intolerant folks than fresh cheeses). Drinks: Fizzy water, cold hibiscus tea, hot peppermint tea, coffee.

*Lower FODMAP Hummus recipe:

1 14.5 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 TB water
4 TB lemon juice
2 TB peanut butter (this substitutes for Tahini)
2TB garlic infused olive oil (I dont' have this so I skipped it. DOn't be afraid to skip or change the recipe to your preference)
1 teasp sesame oil (I didn't have this either. No worries)
1/2 teas salt (I like less salt).

Measure ingredients into a bowl of a blender or food processor. Process till smooth, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Chill until serving. Servings: 8 (Sorry, I can't find how big 1 serving is...:(

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Shop with me!

By Elizabeth Prata

I love to shop for things I need. I seem to be unable to bring myself to buy things I want, but if it is something I need, I buy it. The only exception is books. I'll buy a book anytime.

I don't shop in stores. I abandoned them after 1978 when as a teenager I outgrew malls. Honestly, I hate shopping in brick and mortar stores and avoid malls like the plague. I love online shopping though.

I have been an Amazon customer since 1997. 22 years! Wow. I enjoy browsing, then purchasing, then tracking, then seeing it arrive at my door. I never even had to leave the house. After the printing press, I think Amazon was the best invention ever.

I was gifted a hefty gift certificate this summer. I bought a lot of things. The main item was New Balance shoes. My feet are wide, have a high arch, and pronate. I am also on them all day, walking up and down concrete floors. Good shoes are critical. My old New Balance shoes finally fell apart. When I went to buy new ones I was shocked at the cost now! I got these with the gift certificate and they are like walking on air.

I bought two books that I needed to help me when I blog about daily life in ancient Christian times. Applying the theological word to daily life brings the ancients more to life and I enjoy picturing how they lived day to day. The one book I had was kind of a survey and not deep or substantive, so with my gift certificate, I bought these two more detailed books:

A friend had given me Crocs sandals some years ago. I love a shoe you can slip into. After years of wearing them daily at home as slippers, or yard sandals, they finally fell apart. I looked for new Crocs but like the New Balance sneakers, my oh my, they are expensive. I found this alternate and I love them. They are cushiony, the holes on top ensure my feet don't get too hot, and they were the right price. They can also be used in the water as lake or shore shoes. I highly recommend these Amoji Unisex Garden Clogs-Shoes-Sandals-Slippers:

I learned this summer that Charles Spurgeon adopted a persona called John Ploughman and wrote two books of practical advice for Christians. It's in the style of Ben Franklin's advice as Poor Richard's Almanack.

Here is part of the Ploughman's blurb: "He had a gift for speaking the language of the man-in-the street and presenting Christian truth in a way that captured the imagination. Two of his publications of this type are here combined into one volume. Both are funny, pointed and profound in their content. They give answers to the common questions of the day on doctrine and behaviour as explained by a ploughman to his wayward audience."

The moment I heard about this book it became a 'must-have'. Thanks to the gift certificate, I 'now-have'.

It was a disappointment to discover that IBS sufferers like myself are sensitive to many kinds of tea. I love hot tea. I love everything about it. But for now, I need to drink low FODMAP teas (too complicated to explain here) but suffice to say that the dandelion tea and my cherished chamomile tea in my cupboard are off limits for now. If I drink black tea, it needs to be made weak. Sigh. That's most of the tea I have on stock.

So since for now I can't have the other teas, I bought some more Boh Lemon myrtle and Peppermint teas, which are OK for IBS/FODMAP folks. The chamomile in the pic was part of the 3-tea bundle.

I also enjoy a good soap. A few months ago I found this French bar soap that is creamy and soapy and feels wonderful. So I bought another bar.

13 years ago I acquired for free a 20 year old crock pot. It was 7-quart, oval, and when filled, so heavy I could barely lift it. Then the handles broke, making it even harder to lift. With the gift certificate I bought a 4.5 quart crockpot. It's attractive and easy to handle.

I also bought some pencils for school, a journal for note taking during sermons, groats, quinoa, and vitamin B12 (doctor or nutritionist orders, FODMAP again), some necessary clothing items, and toy mice for my cat. I can make a gift certificate last, I tell ya.

I had fun shopping for my necessary items this summer with my gift certificate. I'm grateful to the folks that chipped in and got it for me.

What do you shop for? Needs? Wants? Impulse buys? Brick & mortar stores, malls, local shops, or online?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

My last day as a reporter

By Elizabeth Prata

A friend had asked me about being a reporter. I had said it was negative and I wanted to get out of it. Over the 6 years, I had to learn and know things that I normally never have wanted to know, the dirtiness, dishonesty, things about peoples’ lives, government sausage making. Ick.

I was so looking forward to my last day of work, August 9, 2006. The company I'd sold my paper to had already closed my office in my town and I had been commuting 10 miles to their headquarters. I was not fond of the commute, parts of it were dangerous. I was heading in early to get a jump on packing, and so it was about 5:30 a.m.

I came upon a crash scene. Officials were diverting traffic, which a normal person would be happy to go around but I was a reporter, if for 8 more hours. I told the fireman that I was a journalist and I needed to get some shots. He waved me ahead and told me to stay 200 feet away from the workers. "It’s a bad one," he said.

Channel 8 and Channel 13 were already shooting video. I had to jockey for position. At 4:30 a.m. conditions had been foggy, the TV freporters told me, and an 18 year old girl had been zooming to work. She lost control of her small car, it skidded and flew and flipped then wrapped around a tree 100 feet into the woods. She was thrown from the vehicle and killed instantly. Rescue had a very hard time extracting the car and a very hard time finding…all…of her.

We stood around for an hour, the TV reporters and me, waiting for the shots we knew we had to get. The white sheeted body being pulled from the trees, loaded into the truck, close ups of the wreckage. The car was so wrecked there was nothing for the tow truck to hook onto and it took a long time. It was long and boring and took a while so when it got close to when things emerged from the woods, we couldn’t help but get animated. We scuttled forward while shooting with extreme zoom, trying to get the shot we knew our editors wanted.

All the while I kept thinking about the quiet of the pre-dawn morning, how the girl was probably singing and driving and wondering about her next class- she was a USM student. And how suddenly her life was gone, and all that was left was a crushed car and three media journalists trying to get a shot that would represent her last moments by a bloody sheet and a hanging fender. My shot I submitted was finally of long strands of grass hanging off the inside mangled wheel well as it was slowly winched on the truck bed.

I got to the office about 8:00 and my peer editor had heard the scanner and was about to send me out. I told him I got the whole thing already, including shots and quotes. He is really ghoulish and gets a gleam in his eye even thinking about car crashes. He jumped up and pumped his hand in the air! "Yes! That’s great!" He looked at me askance, and asked "Do you want to call the family?" We had to get a quote from them. I looked hard at him and I said, "I’ve gone 6 years without having to make the call to a grieving family and I really don't want to go out with one on my last day."

He made the call. The family is Iranian and most of the older members don’t speak English well. John kept asking the same thing over and over, each tme louder, "How do you feel?" I cringed over in my corner, hoping for tomorrow to come. Things like this affected me too much, but equally I was afraid of the day that they wouldn’t affect me, that I’d become like him and it was just another day at the office.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

The box is better

By Elizabeth Prata

My cat, Murray, is a smart cat. He is an active cat. he's a Turkish Angora, all white with golden eyes. Lithe, athletic, interested, and a bit standoffish, he is typical for his breed.

When we lost Bert, my other cat, he lost his playmate. He was a bit depressed, as I was, and it took a while to adjust to the new normal. I got some cat toys this summer for him to play with. He was immediately in love with the little furry mice with a bell inside. He bats it all around - and purposely swats it under the bookcase, then sits there and whines until I get up and use the stick to scoop it out.

Strangely and humorously, he was also immediately scared of the fishing rod with the ball on the end of the elastic string. He squeaks and ran away. he makes this cute squeaking sound when he meows sometimes. His nickname is Squeakers. He does it when he sees the fishing rod ball.

After a while he got used tot he fishing rod toy, since I use the stick part to  push out the mice he swats under the bookcase.

So I tried it. I poked it in a spot where he could reach and play with it, like so:

He was so cute playing with it! The scene was just as I'd envisioned. Happy kitty, playing with wonderful toy, as indulgent parent contentedly looks on.

OK, that lasted 5 minutes. I'm not joking.

Murray swatted the ball around on the end of the elastic, in increasingly frenetic actions. I thought that was because he was getting into it. What he wanted was the ball on the end of the string. There was a feather attached and a bell inside. All the things.

He finally figured out that when he hit the ball, it would keep moving. He could not get to the ball or the feather because it kept jumping around. Well, Murray put a stop to that pretty quick!

In the end, just stomped on the ball, which extended the elastic, and chewed on the string. Soon enough, sproingggg! The result, ta-da!

Toy: $3
Time played with: 5 min

Life with kitty! :) Next time I'll just give him the box.