Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday

Much of my recent vacation was spent in Southwestern Ontario eating, drinking and hanging out with family and friends. If you can judge a vacation by weight gained, I had tons of fun. Well, maybe not tons, but I certainly acquired several pounds of enjoyment while traveling. After a week of indulgence I was ready to hit the road again, so my parents and I hopped in their Journey and headed south of the border to see my sister and her kids.

Last summer I had the good fortune to spend a day with my niece and nephew, but it’s been almost three years since I’ve seen my sister. Much has changed for her in that time. First there was a car accident that left her with permanent jaw damage. Next was surgery to remove parotid gland tumors, followed almost immediately by emergency gall bladder surgery. Then, this winter, after weeks of illness and mystery symptoms, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This combination of conditions has created many challenges for her, most of which I am completely unable to help with, as the distance between us makes it impossible for me to assist with the practical, day-to-day stuff. I was home for a week before I realized there is something I can do from here.

The jaw injury, decreased saliva from the removal of her left parotid gland, laryngopharyngeal reflux, and MS symptoms such as choking and difficulty swallowing, make it tricky for her to find anything to eat. And even when she is able find something, MS induced fatigue, vertigo and spasms can interfere with her ability to prepare it. This is where I come in. Though I’m not able to help her with food prep, I can help her find things that she can eat. This will be tricky, as there’s a substantial list of foods she should avoid, and her preferences are often quite different from mine. We’ve already had conversations where I’ve made suggestions that have been met with resistance. (“Resistance” is a polite way of saying she deemed some of my ideas “gross”.) No worries. This is nothing new. I hope that she’ll be more open to my ideas if I introduce them gradually. And, surprisingly, there were more things she was interested in and excited about than I expected. I’ll share what I come up with here, and I hope she’ll share her comments too. If all goes well, this will become a weekly feature here at Elusive Onions.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selection:

Banana Blueberry Smoothie

(I hope this is one that can be easily made on days when co-ordination is off. There's no chopping, and the measurements can be a guesstimate.)

Makes 2 ½ cups

1 ripe banana
½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
¾ cups milk
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp honey
½ tsp vanilla
3-4 ice cubes

- Blend banana, berries and milk until smooth
- Add yogurt, honey and vanilla and blend
- Add ice cubes and blend

Note: Can substitute ½ cup vanilla yogurt for the plain yogurt, honey and vanilla

Cucumber Watermelon Quencher

(I combined these two ingredients when I remembered that cucumber and watermelon are related. That, and they were both on sale at my sister's local supermarket.)

Makes 4 cups

1 cup peeled, seeded, cubed cucumber
3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
½ cup water
¼ tsp salt (Optional. It seemed like a good idea at the time.)
1 cup ice cubes
1 tbsp honey
Sprig of mint – optional

- Blend cucumber, melon, salt and water until smooth
- Add honey and ice – blend
- Serve with sprig of mint

(I had leftovers from this one, so I put them in the freezer in the hopes of making something resembling granita. Difficult, as I’ve never had granita, so I really didn’t know what I was doing. In spite of frequent stirring while it was freezing, what I got was more like a giant watermelon/cucumber ice cube. I chipped it into smaller pieces and served it with blueberries and watermelon chunks. Tasty, but beware of brain-freeze.)

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