Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Baking & Helping

I love baking. 
You already know this though. 
I also love helping. 
You might also already know this.

Chewy and good Chocolate Chunk with
Walnuts Cookies
On Monday, I baked a new recipe for the first time that I found on Smitten Kitchen. If you don't at least occasionally look at Smitten Kitchen, check it out - the recipes are delicious & the blog is beautifully photographed. The recipe I tried is here. I chopped up the remains of 3 different dark chocolate bars and sprinkled the dough balls with sea salt before I baked them. I chose to use toasted walnuts.

These cookies were baked as a thank you treat for the nurses working 12 hour shifts taking care of my mother in law, Barb, at the Crozer Hospital ICU. Barb had a 13 hour long surgery on Thursday and has been in the ICU since. Things are touch and go. Chris & I flew to be with my father in law Rich, my sisters in law Jen & Beth and be by Barb's bedside during the annoyingly strict visiting hours. More family came to visit throughout the weekend & week which was comforting indeed.

Why do I bake for the nurses? I bake to tell them they are seen, appreciated & needed. To try to bribe them into giving Barb even better care than they already are. As insurance against anything less than compassionate and gentle care. Also, to keep myself calm amid the storm. My husband's family (myself included here) are in a terrible middle ground of waiting. We don't know what the future holds for Barb. She remains sedated & stable in her bed in the ICU. Vital signs remain normal. No one knows what is next. It is horrible. As much as I know the care the nurses & doctors are giving Barb is great, the place is not. The ICU restricts the hours you can visit your loved one, it restricts the number of people who can visit at a time (only 2), and feels like a cold and lonely place. I am incredibly scared and sad and stressed and my heart hurts each time I think of my mother in law spending a big part of everyday away from all of those who love her. 

So I bake. I bake bread, I bake cookies, I bake whatever comes to mind. I want to offer my family in law the best of what I have to offer. The best I have to offer pretty much always comes in the form of edibles.

I am home from Philly now. I am still baking. Approximately no one should be shocked by this. The nurses will get 2 more deliveries of cookies when Chris returns to his family on Saturday. One of my most favorite cookie recipes of all time; Salted Oatmeal Dark Chocolate from Real Simple. I swap out the shortening in favor of melted coconut oil. If you make them - please don't over-bake them. They should be pretty darn pale when you take them out of the oven. They retain their chewiness best if they don't brown in the oven. 

Salted Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies
If anyone has any tips for handling an ongoing medical crisis; I am open to them. I'm sure that some of you have dealt with similarly sick family members and I'm sorry for that. I'm hoping you can share some advice about how you dealt with the sadness & stress. If you have spare good thoughts & prayers; please send them Barb's way. She is heroically strong and has made it this far - but every little bit helps. Thanks all and as always; happy baking.
Close up of the Salted Oatmeal Dark Chocolate
Cookies to show how the chocolate erupts out
of them. I love how it does that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grandpa's 99th Birthday

Man oh man, my Grandpa turned 99 last week! Ninety nine! It is hard for me to imagine what it is like to be 99. This is my Mom's Dad who lives in semi-rural Kansas, where he & my Grandma raised my Mom, her sister & brother.
Aunt Margi, Mom, Uncle Rick with
the 99th Birthday Boy

The year my Grandpa was born......
~Streetcars began municipal operation in San Francisco
~USA broke off diplomatic relations with Germany (the same day a US ship was sunk by Germany)
~The 1st NHL Championship game was played (though it was a 2 game series, which strikes me as odd)
~USA enters World War 1
~The average life expectancy for an American man was 48.4 years & an American woman 54 years (I'd say my Grandpa blows that average right out of the water!)
~The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded. 1 of them was shared by 2 women writers!
~The United States was only made up of 48 states.
~The draft was established for WWI

Things have changed indeed since then :)

We had a great weekend with Grandpa, who lives in an apartment inside an assisted living facility. The long weekend meant visiting with Grandpa over 3 days and listening to his jokes and stories. 

Chris & I were excited to share photos of the progress on our house with him and Grandpa reminisced about the home he'd visited in Evanston; the one belonging to my dad's parents! This would've been 40ish years ago when my parents were dating, engaged & newly married! Grandpa told me he thought Evanston was  great town and he saw copper gutters on Dad's parents' home for the first time ever. He also loved their sunporch.It is crazy to think that my Grandpa can recall details like that 40 years after he experienced them!

As he consistently reminds me - his long life can be attributed to three things "Hard work, clean living, and wine" I had another chance to drink a glass of wine with Grandpa this year - its a huge treat to share in his twice daily ritual with him. Because when you're 99, you can request a wine delivery from the nurses at 11am and again at 4pm........which sounds lovely to me!
Grandpa with all but 2 of his great grandkids!

Grandpa with all but 3 of his grand & great grandkids!

So much family, so little time :)

Grandpa with some of the Kearney/Kramer/Platts

Family enjoying Grandpa's party

The birthday party was well attended by family plus all of Grandpa's neighbors were invited and many of them came to celebrate! There was cake & ice cream & punch. It was perferct; though I think we exhausted Grandpa fully - he headed back to his room to relax in his chair once the festivities wrapped up.

Grandpa meets Hennie
Grandpa meets Kane & Anne

Another bonus of the weekend: Grandpa got to meet 3 more of his great grandchildren for the first time! Hennie, Kaner & Anne! What fun he had with all the kiddos scrambling around in his room.

When we weren't spending time with Grandpa, we ate a ton of ridiculously delicious food in epic portions. Check out Chris' half portion of biscuits & gravy along with Dad's single pancake. These treats were enjoyed at the restaurant inside the tiny Miami County Airport. When the weather is nice, people fly their 2 & 4 person planes into this airport just to eat at the restaurant! President Barack Obama visited We B Smokin when he came to give a speech nearby in 2011. Its a pretty great place!

We spent a good amount of time hanging out at Aunt Margi & Uncle Phil's house, playing games, catching up & eating even more delectable food. 
Mom, Hennie & Aunt Margi hanging at Margi & Phil's

It was a fantastic weekend spent with family, celebrating Grandpa Dick Schowengerdt & his 99 great years.