Well, we’ve dipped one foot into 2015 and wriggled our toes around a bit. Some of us spent New Year’s Day suffering from the after effects of a big night on the town, others were glued to the TV checking out the various bowl games being publicized. I watched movies and stuffed my face most of the day. No hangover for, me thank you. It’s been years since I’ve woken up on the interior side of those bloodshot eyes. Those dreadful day after mornings when my brain threatened to explode from dehydration, my wretched body hung over (excellent turn of a phrase BTW) the toilet praying for death to release me from my misery. The last probably ten years ago was brought on as I recall by an unfortunate marriage of champagne and Jello shots at an anniversary party. Makes my stomach jump typing the words. I left my drinking days behind along with the stress of restaurant ownership. These days other than an occasional margarita I’m pretty much one dry Canadian. Not that imbibing or not was ever an issue for me, even in my misspent youth. Rather I seem to have lost a taste for distilled products somewhere along the road. Working in our restaurant I often found myself behind the bar rather than in front of it either subbing for an absent bartender or contributing an extra pair of hands. Tongues definitely loosen after a little libation. A lot can be learned about your patrons working the taps. Sometimes you gather far more information than you ever needed to know about a person speaking over the top of their glass.
The end of 2014 found me dealing with health issues. A three month battle with eye and sinus problems finally cleared up before Christmas leaving me feeling like my old self after spending the holidays with my mother. “Don’t get too comfortable, Chickie”, whispered the universe. The night before New Year’s Eve I woke in the wee hours to find my index finger swollen and throbbing. Sigh. By the time morning arrived both my index and middle fingers were painfully enlarged looking like two knackwurst had been attached to the end of my hand. All that was needed were some lederhosen and a plate of schnitzel and I was good to go for Oktoberfest. Rather than preparing our planned new year’s eve feast, lobster tails and filet, we caught ourselves up on the current issue of Field and Stream sitting in urgent care waiting room. Did you know, for example, the weight of your fly fishing rod should match the weight of your line? Who knew? As usual it was easily two hours before I was ushered into an examining room. Readers Digest version, final diagnosis gout. Are you kidding me? Gout happens to chubby old Englishmen hovering over chamber pots. The types of gentlemen who dine on mutton and down tankards of ale. I eat a healthy diet. Not a lot of seafood, although my mind did switch to the picture of the two plump lobster tails waiting for me at home on the top shelf of my refrigerator, and the marinated crab I downed on Christmas. How did I get gout?
Turns out gout can be caused by any number of reasons outside of the realm of your diet. For instance, if you’ve recently been given heavy doses of antibiotics. Ahhhhh. Once again the cure is nearly as bad as the disease.
On the positive side, it’s been a good life lesson on appreciating what I have and pulling the positive out of a negative situation. Fortunately, the swelling affected my left hand, not my dominant one. Again on the plus side, Rick stepped up to the plate and took care of the situation spit spot, letting his hands sub for mine. Definitely a citation in the wings for his performance on this mission. With only the use of one hand you quickly determine the degree of difficulty involved in opening a jar, lifting a heavy object, drying one’s hair, and basically doing everything including pulling on clothes in the morning and availing yourself of the loo. Rick seemed to appear at every junction, hiking up socks, pouring coffee, and generally making himself indispensable. In our house, it is usually me who does the majority of the household tasks. No complaint here, I don’t mind this. It keeps me off the streets. Rick pulls his oar certainly, but the cooking, house cleaning (other than the bathrooms) and laundry usually appear on my side of the chart. For the past few days I have put my feet up on my recliner, caught up on my reading, and generally enjoyed a bit of spoiling while the new medication seems to be returning the swelling to normal. Let’s see, what new ailment can I come up with next week? Ummmm, I think I’ll pass.
Since I actually contracted the gout in 2014, I’m going to leave it there and concentrate on having a healthy and hale 2015. That is my first new year’s resolution, and one I intend to keep. Always the beginning of a new year brings with it, for me at least, a bit of nostalgia for those years left in its wake, a resolve to do better in the areas I feel I’m lacking, and an excitement at the new adventures probably waiting in the days to come.
Obviously I haven’t been spending much time at the stove and today is my first attempt at typing, so this easy and delicious tuna casserole was the answer to putting something quick and yummy on the table.
Creamy Tuna and Shells
8 oz. medium size shell pasta (cooked and drained)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced shallots
1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup green onions, sliced (green and white)
1 cup cooked peas
1/2 up dry vermouth
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
2 cans solid white tuna (5 oz.)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray
Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Drain.
Heat oil over med. heat in large skillet. Add garlic, mushrooms, shallots, red pepper, green onions and peas to pan. Cook for 6-8 mins. until vegetables are tender.
Deglaze pan with vermouth. Increase pan to high and continue cooking until vermouth has nearly evaporated. Add broth, cream, and mustard to pan. Boil sauce until thickened, about 5 mins.
Add Parmesan cheese and parsley and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Add reserved pasta, tuna, and lemon juice to pan. Mix well. Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle with Italian blend cheese. Cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 40 mins.