Posted in Health

New Body Mysteries

Lately, I have been getting these really swollen bumps on my left shoulder, a rash I guess. At first, I thought they were bug bites, but, they are only on my upper left arm and shoulder. They are very itchy.

I don’t know whether to go to the doctor about them or not. As I age it always seems there is some new thing happening with my body. If it is not a new pain it is an ear infection or something happening with my skin. It gets really tiresome.

Sometimes I get a little worried when multiple things are happening at once. Like today, I have the itchy rash on my shoulder, and, a pain in my right armpit. Armpit pains alarm me because it is usually lymph node issues cause by something in whatever deodorant I may be using. I have tried many different ones trying to find one that doesn’t clog my nodes.

Photo on 2-15-19 at 2.44 PM.jpg

While I write this I am considering going to the ER to have the rash checked out. You can’t really see how swollen it is in the picture to left. But my arm is completely lumpy. And it itches insanely.

I hate going to the ER with something like this but my doctor’s office is already closed, and they don’t open on weekends.

Like I said, I don’t think these are bite because it is only happening on my left upper arm and shoulder. Nothing on the rest of my body. It has been happening on and off for the past month or so. I wouldn’t be so concerned if it had only been just the last few days.

If I go this weekend I’ll let you know what I find out. I just don’t want to end up with some flesh-eating bacteria working its way up to what little brain I have left.🤪

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Posted in Diet, Health

Blood Pressure

It has been high but I don’t know why. And I mean stroke and heart attack high! My doctor had increased my med dosage an few months back but did not help.

I saw her last week and it was still high:142/100. So, she added another medication and in only 6 days it has come down to near normal numbers. This morning it was 127/83. I was very pleased,and, I feel better.

I am also feeling better because I am not driving a school bus any longer. I do have to find another job though. You know how when you’re working, and the money is good, and you start spending more and making new bills? Yeah, I did that. I am not completely sunk yet. I can conceivably pay off the debts I’ve created very slowly, or I can get a job and pay them off like I was doing before.

However, I am not worried about it. I will find a job eventually, even if I have to deliver pizzas in my car. And that’s not really a bad gig. I only need so much to get by. Being retired military helped immensely.

The only thing that really disappoints me is that I will not be able to buy that new motorcycle I have been wanting for the last 11 months. I wanted to buy a Harley Davidson. After test riding a few I can’t stop thinking about them. One day I will though.

Anyway, that is about all I have to say on this post. I feel like my health is improving. I am getting better and better reacquainted with my diet. And I am slowly but surly taking measures to improve.

Posted in Favorite Recipes

Pho Po (Beef Pho)

Phở or pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef or chicken. Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world.

I was visiting a friend who made this a few days ago. It was quite delicious.

Beef Broth:

1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
2 pods star anise
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
2-ounce chunk fresh ginger, roughly crushed (don’t bother peeling)
1 onion, cut into thick slices
3 pounds mixed beef shanks and oxtails
1 pound chicken wings
1/2 large Fuji apple (don’t bother peeling)
5 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar

To serve:

8 ounces eye of round or sirloin steak, thinly sliced
14 ounces thin rice noodles “sticks in the 1/16-inch-thick range (banh pho)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Thai bird chiles, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
2 cups fresh herbs, including cilantro, Thai basil, and mint
2 limes, quartered

Directions:

  1. Beef Broth: Toast the spices over medium heat in a large pressure cooker 3 to 5 minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Add the ginger and onion and blacken slightly. A few of the spices may burn a bit and that’s fine.
  3. Add the shanks, oxtails, chicken wings, apple, salt and 10 cups of water. Attach and lock the lid according to your cooker’s instructions and bring to full pressure over medium-high heat. Once the cooker is steaming and whistling, back down on the heat to just maintain full pressure and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, firm up the eye of round by placing in the freezer for 20 minutes then slice very thinly across the grain. Cover and refrigerate while the broth continues to cook.
  5. After 30 minutes kill the heat and allow the pressure cooker to cool for 5 minutes, then slowly vent the pressure using your cooker’s pressure relief valve or park under cold running water until the safety lid lock disengages, usually around 30 seconds.
  6. Carefully remove the lid and remove the larger pieces of meat, then strain first through a colander then again through a colander or fine strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Finish by stirring in the fish sauce and palm sugar.
  7. When the shanks are cool enough to handle, slice or pull the meat from the bones and set aside.

Note: everything up to this point can be done up to a day ahead. When you’re ready to serve:

Place the rice noodles in a baking dish, cover with boiling water and soak for 15 minutes before draining thoroughly.

Distribute the noodles into wide soup bowls (better be deep too) and top with the slices of (raw) eye of round and a few pieces of the cooked beef.

Pour on the hot broth to cover and garnish as desired with the scallions, chiles, sprouts, herbs, and limes.

Posted in Diet, Health

Journey Back

I am trying my best to get back on my diet of choice, the Ketogenic Diet. It is a diet that has worked well for me in the recent past. It seems hard to get started though. And if you haven’t heard or saw on my other blog, I am no longer a school bus driver. I decided to give the job up.

The job itself was not causing my failure on my diet. I just haven’t been disciplined or cared enough. The job was causing a great deal of stress though. All I could do when I got home every day was sleep. I was sore, near physically ill from the stress, and dreading the next day. On weekends, I would go through several bottles of wine. This, I believe, was a result of job stress.

I haven’t worked there now for about 3 weeks. I feel like I’m becoming uncoiled finally. I was wound pretty tightly; tight muscles, joint pain, neck pain, and back pain. I’m starting to feel better. Before I took the job, I had begun to practice the saxophone again and learn some tunes. All that ended slowly when I started driving. Eventually, I could not find the energy to continue. Just this week, I remembered what my musical goals were. I had planned to be in a group by this time, or, at least doing some solo work.

I feel I became really unhealthy while driving the school bus. I don’t think I will ever go back to it. So now, since I’ve started feeling better, I intend to try to go all the way. Not even a weight loss goal, just a goal of eating better. I need to decrease some of the inflammation in my body. I need to send my triglycerides in a downward trend, and, I need to lower my blood pressure. The keto diet was doing all of that.

I am a little scared though. I don’t want to fail. And I know I shouldn’t think about it in those terms, but, its hard not to.

Also, I need to get engaged again in some sort of exercise. I guess I will approach all of this one step at a time. And of course, it was helping to post here on my blog. It sort of kept me honest. Anyway, that’s what it is right now. Wish me luck.

Posted in Favorite Recipes

CUBAN ROAST PORK (LECHON ASADO)

Ingredients:

10 lb. Pork Shoulder (pork picnic)
2 Heads of Garlic, peeled, divided
1½ cups Sour Orange Juice (3-4 lbs. Sour Oranges)
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
¼ Tsp. Cumin
1 Bay Leaf
2 tsp. Kosher Salt (plus 1 tbsp. to crisp the skin) divided

Directions:

MAKE THE MOJO MARINADE

Peel the garlic. Reserve 8-10 whole garlic cloves. Smash the remaining garlic cloves; place them on a cutting board and give them a good whack with the side of a large knife. Add the garlic and about ½ tsp. kosher salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small flat pieces. Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ tsp. salt, and the bay leaf to a medium bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well. Let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours is better. Shake or stir well before using.

Get step-by-step instructions (with pictures) by checking out our traditional mojo marinade recipe. There’s even a substitute for sour orange juice, just in case you can’t find them in your area.

MARINATE THE PORK

Cook’s note: We lined the pan with a large roasting bag (I think they’re made for turkeys). We found them in the foil and plastic wrap section of the supermarket. These bags are great, they contain the mojo and you can seal them tight with a knot.

Place the pork in a large pan, make small slits (about 1-2” deep) on the skin side of the pork and insert the reserved (whole) garlic cloves into the slits. Tip: Dip the clove in the marinade for easy insertion.

Turn the pork over (skin side down) and make about 10-12 small slits (about 1-2” deep) in the meat. Using a ladle or spoon, start pouring the marinade into the slits you made. Then pour the remaining marinade over the pork. Sprinkle another ½ tsp. or so of salt over the pork, if desired.

Seal the bag by making a tight knot on the top, or cover the pan well using a generous amount of plastic wrap. Seriously use several layers. The smell of this marinating pork is strong and will permeate the refrigerator. While the pork roast marinade is delicious, I don’t want my refrigerator smelling like it for days.

Marinate the Cuban roast pork, skin side up, in the refrigerator overnight. You want the fleshy side sitting in the marinade.

TIME TO ROAST

Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 – 45 minutes before roasting (providing it’s cool in your kitchen). Preheat oven to 325°F. The marinated pork will be a grayish color, that’s normal; it’s the citrus working on the meat.

Place the pork on a roasting pan, skin side down. Use a roasting pan that has a rack so the pork shoulder is not sitting on the bottom of the pan. Pour the marinade over the pork. Brush any loose pieces of garlic off the pork. They will start to burn quickly. Also, pour just a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. You’ll have to add a little more during the roasting time too. The drippings and garlic on the bottom of the pan will start to burn and smoke. The water keeps this in check.

About 1½ – 2 hours into the roasting time tent the pork. Take a piece of aluminum foil (about the size of the pork shoulder) and loosely cover. Just place it on top, don’t wrap it.

Roast the pork for 7 – 8 hours until the internal temperature reaches at least 170° F. Check the temperature on several different spots.

TO CRISP THE SKIN

Remove the pork from the oven and carefully flip it over so it’s skin side up. Be very careful during this step as the roast is heavy and hot! Fill a small bowl or cup with water and add a generous amount of salt (about 1 tbsp. for 1 cup of water), stir. Drip the salted water on the pork roast and brush it all over the skin. Repeat several times.

If you were roasting on the middle rack, like we were, move the rack down one just so the pork isn’t sitting too close to the heating element. Switch the oven to the low broiler setting.

VERY IMPORTANT COOK’S NOTE

Do not leave the oven’s side until you finish this step. Turn on the oven light and look in every minute or so. The skin will crisp and brown quickly, it will go from perfectly golden brown to burnt in minutes, if not seconds.

Once the skin is bubbling and it may even start to crackle, carefully remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest at least 15-20 minutes before carving. Serves 8-10

Make the mojo marinade

Peel the garlic. Reserve 8-10 whole garlic cloves. Smash the remaining garlic cloves.

Add the garlic and about ½ tsp. kosher salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small flat pieces.

Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ tsp. salt, and the bay leaf to a medium bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well. Let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours is better. Shake or stir well before using.

Marinate the pork

Note: We lined the pan with a large roasting bag. We found them in the foil and plastic wrap section of the supermarket. The bag will contain the mojo and you can seal it tight with a knot.

Place the pork in a large pan, make small slits (about 1-2” deep) on the skin side of the pork and insert the reserved (whole) garlic cloves into the slits. Tip: Dip the clove in the marinade for easy insertion.

Turn the pork over (skin side down) and make about 10-12 small slits (about 1-2” deep) in the meat.

Using a ladle or spoon, start pouring the marinade into the slits you made. Then pour the remaining marinade over the pork. Sprinkle another ½ tsp. or so of salt over the pork, if desired.

Seal the bag by making a tight knot on the top, or (if not using a bag) cover the pan well using a generous amount of plastic wrap.

Marinate the Cuban roast pork, skin side up, in the refrigerator overnight. You want the fleshy side sitting in the marinade.

Time to roast

Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 – 45 minutes before roasting (providing it’s cool in your kitchen).

Preheat oven to 325°F

Place the pork on a roasting pan, skin side down. Use a roasting pan that has a rack so the pork shoulder is not sitting on the bottom of the pan.

Pour the marinade over the pork. Brush any loose pieces of garlic off the pork. They will start to burn quickly. Also, pour just a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. You’ll have to add a little more during the roasting time too. The drippings and garlic on the bottom of the pan will start to burn and smoke. The water keeps this in check.

About 1½ – 2 hours into the roasting time tent the pork. Take a piece of aluminum foil (about the size of the pork shoulder) and loosely cover. Just place it on top, don’t wrap it.

Roast the pork for 7 – 8 hours until the internal temperature reaches at least 170° F. Check the temperature on several different spots.

To crisp the skin

Remove the pork from the oven and carefully flip it over so it’s skin side up. Be very careful during this step as the roast is heavy and hot!

Fill a small bowl or cup with water and add a generous amount of salt (about 1 tbsp. for 1 cup of water), stir. Drip the salted water on the pork roast and brush it all over the skin. Repeat several times.

If you were roasting on the middle rack, move the rack down one, just so the pork isn’t sitting too close to the heating element.

Switch the oven to the low broiler setting.

Very Important Cook’s Note

Do not leave the oven’s side until you finish this step. Turn on the oven light and look in every minute or so. The skin will crisp and brown quickly, it will go from perfectly golden brown to burnt in minutes, if not seconds.

Once the skin is bubbling and it may even start to crackle, carefully remove the pork from the oven.

Allow the pork roast to rest at least 15-20 minutes before carving.

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Posted in Diet, family stuff

Happy New Year

Well, it’s 2019. I remember when I thought maybe the world would end by the year 2000 because of Y2K. I have long since given up on trying to know when the world will end. I think there are more important things in life.

Friends, family, and love are what life is all about. To love is to live. In fact, there is no real life without love. You are missing out on life without love.

I have spent the last week with family and friends in Texas and I have had a blast. And back in South Carolina where I live I have even more friends and family.

Friends are a must, and so is being a friend. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t show yourself to be a friend it is likely you wont have friends. And I have some great friends. I am surrounded by them. I can only hope that I will eventually be as good at being a friend as they are. I would not have survived 2018 without them.

And I don’t know what to tell you what you should do about love interest. I am mostly clueless. I am, however, starting the 2019 with someone I think is special. I have known her for nearly 30 years. She is one of the nicest people I know, and a really good friend.

So this year has the potential to be one of the best of my life. It is certainly one of the best beginnings. I am looking forward to seeing it unfold.

I hope everyone has a great year in 2019. We all need something good in our lives. The world in general needs something good to happen. May blessings and good fortune follow you all.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Diet, family stuff, Happiness

The Day After (Christmas)

Well, it was a great holiday! I drove to Texas to see my Dad and the rest of my family. It was a 15 hour drive. Everyone asked, “why didn’t you fly?” I never fly anywhere I can drive, no matter how long it will take. I have been on over 200 flights and I still don’t like it.

I arrived two days before Christmas. I started to go shopping for my nieces and nephews but I was too tired. I got them all gift cards instead. They were still very excited Christmas morning. Of, course I was not the only one buying gifts.

We all had a good time. And I haven’t even seen all of my family yet. Christmas was a great start. I have the rest of the week to see the rest. Also, I hope to see some friends this week as well.

It has been very good to be home. My nieces and nephews (actually my great nieces and nephews) are older now, and are not so freaked out by the stranger called “Uncle Tony.” So it has been a lot more fun. Of course, they are wearing me out.

I hope you all are having as great a holiday as I am. Merry Christmas!

PS, My son graduated from college last week!

Posted in Diet, relaxing

Snowed In

This weekend I drove to North Carolina to see my friend, S. However, I had not checked the weather. It’s just like Me to wait until the last minute to do something like that. When I did, I found out that a big winter storm was coming through.

Well, it was too late to cancel the trip and I wasn’t going to disappoint my friend. So I’m here now and I’m snowed in. I have never been snowed in before. Somehow I thought I might be able to get out. Not a chance.

S, of course, is glad that I’m stuck here a little longer. I will not be able to make it back for work on Monday. Most of the time I don’t enjoy work but I don’t like to call out because it is difficult to cover for missing people. On the other hand, I don’t mind being here with S a little longer.

Right now we are sitting in the lobby of my hotel watching tv. She doesn’t live far away but she is here hanging out with me while I wait. We’re just gonna try to enjoy the day.

Posted in Diet

Side Effects!

Medicines and side effects

I spent the first two weeks of work (driving a school bus) in pain; Stomach cramps and on the verge of having diarrhea.  Then as time progressed, constipation; Nothing happening, Just pain.

Last week on Friday was the worst. The pain was almost unbearable, and, add extreme nausea to the mix. A bus driver causes great problems if he/she calls out sick, so I didn’t. I worked my shift in extreme pain and feeling like I was going to throw up. Fortunately, I had not eaten anything that morning.

I was very short with my kids. The first to weeks the kids are testing the bus driver to see what they can get away with. That Friday I was NOT in the mood. I’m sure they thought I was the meanest bus driver in the world that day. I answered no questions. I was very upset if they got too loud. And I seemed to nearly lose control of my self if anyone got out of their seat, breaking my number 1 rule about riding my school bus. I finished my shift without any embarrassing spewing from either end of my body.

side effectsI was about ready to go to the emergency room after my shift when I remembered that I was on a new medication to help with my blood sugar. Sure enough, the label listed all of the side effects I was having. I stopped taking the medication and everything was back to normal within a day or so, including a higher blood sugar level.

So, I will have to get with my doctor and find another medication. No bus driver wants to be sick while driving a bus with 60+ kids onboard. If this ever happens again I will call out. The possibility of puking or crapping my pants in front of kids is simply not an option.

Posted in Diet

A Great Saturday Morning

I went for my second bicycle ride. 9.2 miles in 47 minutes. It’s not too shabby. The only problem I had was my seat tearing my ass up. I also felt some numbness in my private bits. AGING IS NOT FOR COWARDS!

I also felt some weirdness in my hands. I have had carpal tunnel repair in both. It wasn’t pain. They just felt weird, then, extra weird after the ride was over. It didn’t last long.

I did have to stop after mile 8 to rest a bit (about 4 minutes). Mostly because of the pain in my butt. I was fine after resting. I look forward to riding again and feeling stronger. I don’t know if it will help in my weight loss efforts but, it is sure to help my cardiovascular health. And in fact, it felt pretty good today. I think all that running while in the Navy has paid off in spades.

I really liked running while I could do it. I have tried running short distances since my back surgery in 2010. I just can’t do it. Too much shin and lower back pain. And for some reason, it taxes my breathing way more than riding the bicycle. I’m guessing more muscles are involved in actually running. On the bike, not so many.

At any rate, with the bicycle, I do get some exercise. Also, there is the passing scenery. And, I have my Bluetooth headset for music and vocal prompts from my exercise app (Endomondo), all of which helps to take my mind somewhere else while the exercise is happening. Otherwise, it would be just boring grueling self-torture. I’m not into that sort of thing.

Well, that’s all for now. I have no idea how many calories I burned. And I don’t really care. It was just bicycling. It was fun.