What triggers my mania

When I go grocery shopping I enter another world. As soon as I enter those doors and grab a cart my mind starts racing. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, doesn’t matter how many people are in there, doesn’t matter if I am there for a few items or a whole list of things. I can’t slow down. Inside I am bursting at the seams.

Having a shopping list helps keep me manageable, but I can’t think straight. I find myself going over the items on the list several times to make sure I know what I’m doing. The littlest thing can derail me and I have to take a long pause and re-evaluate things.

By the time I get to the checkout I’m exhausted. But then there are the lines. People everywhere. Unloading their carts, bagging their groceries, taking up space with crazy energy levels. I almost come unhinged!

It’s not until I get on the road and away from the crowd that I begin to unwind. Classical music helps. Thankfully I live in a small town where traffic is usually very slow. Our rush hour consists of cars going 50mph on the freeway for a total of about an hour out of the day. Real easy to plan around.

I find that any crowd gets my heart racing. I was recently at the convenience store. It was around 11pm. I figured it would be slow – just a couple cars getting gas and maybe a couple people inside. Boy was I in for a surprise. When I arrived there were four or five cars getting gas and three cars parked out front and one parked on the side. Inside the store there were people everywhere. I had to wait in line for maybe 10 minutes and by the time I got up to the counter my mind was all messed up. I couldn’t think straight and the cashier informed me that they don’t accept credit cards so I had to come up with another plan. I was able to find a couple bucks in change and that paid for everything but the damage was done – I was again, messed up. It’s the little things. It’s always in the details.

Another thing that triggers my mania is when I miss my dose by a few hours. Usually I take my meds around 9pm after dinner has settled. But tonight I forgot to take my pills and now it is 2:00am and I am wound up tighter than fishing line. Most times when I take my pills, I get tired soon afterwards. But when I miss my dose, something happens inside of me and I am awake for quite a while. Even taking my pills doesn’t trigger sleepy-time. Instead, I am buzzing with anxiety and all I can do is wait it out.

What are some of your triggers?

Cindee’s Instant Pot® Chili

As the name suggests, this recipe was completed using the InstantPot® pressure cooker. But you can do the same thing using conventional methods. We just like the InstantPot® because it cuts our time at the stove to a minimum.

If you have a pressure cooker other than the InstantPot may I suggest you cut the times down a bit and check in on the concoction after say, three-quarters of the time stated. In our own trials we found that we had to cook the beans another 20 minutes. We probably could have saved that time by soaking the beans overnight, but we started with dry beans, and, they are kidney beans anyway – they take a little longer to cook than softer beans.

For those of you using conventional cooking methods I strongly suggest soaking the beans overnight. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache slaving over the stove. And, going conventional allows you the opportunity to add the meat into the chili and let the flavors marry.

As for the homemade veggie stock: we used leeks, carrots, onions, mushrooms, parsley, spinach, bell peppers, and dill, thyme and oregano. We used the pressure cooker for that as well.

Without further ado,

Ingredients:

3/4 can (15 oz. can) crushed tomato
20 ounces dry kidney beans
1 jalapeno chiles, chopped w/seeds
4 cups homemade Veggie stock
3 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 chipotle chilis, chopped
1/4 can (15 oz. can) crushed tomato (remainder of the can)
1/2 cup Eric’s Carne Asada Sauce (recipe follows)

Directions:

Cook the beans, crushed tomato, jalapeno, veggie stock, water, chili powder and paprika on beans/chili  setting for 30 minutes.

Then cook on manual for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan cook the ground beef, onion, chipotle peppers and the rest of the can of crushed tomatoes along with 1/2 cup of Eric’s Carne Asada sauce.

When beans are done add the beef mixture to the pot and warm for a few minutes to let the flavors marry. Like most soups and chilis, it tastes better the next day.

Bon Appetite

Eric’s Carne Asada Sauce

2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 white onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 dried new mexico chile pods
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

First, take the New Mexico Chili pods and toast them in a dry frying pan on medium heat. Do that for about 7 minutes or until you can smell them starting to burn. Then, move them into a dish with water so they can soak for about half an hour

Next, take the tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and garlic and chop them coarsely. Put them on a baking pan and roast them on 400 degrees for twenty minutes. If you are using a toaster oven you may have to roast them a little longer. What you want is for them to brown around the edges. Afterwards, place them in a blender or food processor (preferably a blender) along with the chili pods that you toasted on the stove and chopped coarsely.
*Note: concerning fire – you decide how hot you want the sauce. Leaving the seeds in the jalapenos will render a spicy flavor with heat. If you are like my wife and son, you like the heat. You can always add more jalapenos to the mix. It’s all in your hands.

Life as usual

Okay, so it’s been a month now and my wrist is still messed up. It appears that it will never fully heal. Bummer. But, I can still use it a bit. I have trouble though with door knobs and with jars and with drying my hands. Tying my shoes is a challenge as well.

I’ll just have to take it easy from now on and make sure I wear my brace to bed every night. If I am going to err, I will err on the side of caution.

 

Nothing much happening in my world lately. I haven’t been active on Facebook, I don’t get out for walks, and I tend to sleep a lot. A whole lot. Today I got up at 3:00pm. It just isn’t right. I miss the whole day when that happens.

Ich habt keine luzt. I have no gumption. No air in the balloon. Nothing brings me joy. I sound like a broken record. This crap has been going on for far too long. I want to feel free again. I want to feel the cool, sweet grass beneath my toes. I want to feel the crisp ocean breeze upon my face. I want a new life.

 

I am starting to put my hope in anti-depressants. I know there are a lot of bad stories out there about those pills, but, I have been pretty fortunate in that area. Perhaps my luck will continue and those meds will help me more than they will mess me up. It’s worth a try. There has got to be a better life than this.

The Big Black Dog

The Big Black Dog

I just learned that a person with Bipolar I deals with depression on a 3:1 scale but a person with Bipolar II, such as myself, deals with depression on a 20:1 scale. My goodness!! That’s insane. But that makes sense. I typically suffer from depression predominantly over mania. I am almost always depressed and it sucks the energy right out of me.

I’ve been avoiding Facebook lately because it is all just the same stuff: people throwing out their political views; people showing us their culinary curiosities; and people just sharing crap. I’m over it. It’s too damned bothersome. BUT, there is a silver lining. I have recently “liked” some Bipolar pages and it has given me something new to read. There are articles by folks who share their Bipolar lives and strategies for living fuller lives despite the illness. This has given me something to visit Facebook for. Obviously, I go to see my friends and family, but they are not doing anything that they haven’t been doing for the past five or six years.

So, I sit in darkness tapping away at the keys, writing monotonous drivel just to say that I am doing something constructive. I should take the advice of bpMagazine’s contributors and go outside and take a walk. Or maybe I could put on some music and clean the house. I know, I could cook a difficult and yet, interesting meal!

Gawd, I am tired of this! I want to go back in time when I smiled. When I cared about my life. When I cared about others’ lives. This shit has to stop. But it won’t. The Big Black Dog of depression has bitten my leg and he won’t let go.

It’s like this: Depression blocks your endorphin machine. Depression does not allow you to access the same pathways in your brain as, say, mania does. With manic episodes you get joy, elation, positive thought processes (albeit inaccurate, over-inflated ones). Mania is spontaneous and fun and it opens pathways to the feelings of possibilities. Depression blocks all that. There is no joy. There is no elation. There are no open pathways to positive thinking. It’s all dark, dreary, and doomsville.

I become sarcastic to a fault. I belittle my own existence. I am angry. I wish I could cry.

I gotta go. I’m not doing anyone any good.

I hope you all have a bright, blessed day.

Peace

Classic Sauces

Many times, when I try to think of what to cook for dinner, I start by thinking of what sauces I might like to base my dinner around. I have spent a good amount of time seeking out recipes for good sauces. Anything from Asian sauces to the Classics, sauces make our meals breathtaking.

Here, I offer you a small selection of Classic Sauces to add to your recipe book.

1. Classic Alfredo Sauce – Williams/Sonoma Kitchens

2. Classic Bearnaise Sauce – Mario Battali

3. Four Seasons’ Brown Sauce – Four Seasons Restaurant, NYC

First up, Alfredo Sauce. This recipe has been adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series. It is a foolproof and delicious recipe.

Begin with the best ingredients you can find. In this case, get heavy cream that is not ultrapasteurized. You’ll want it to have some body. And the butter. Get Plugra or KerryGold butter, unsalted. These two butters are nice and creamy and have a flavor reminiscent of fine European butters. Next, get fresh off the wheel wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Finish it off with freshly grated nutmeg. Finally, if you can, use a good sea salt or kosher salt and freshly cracked or ground black pepper.

It’s a simple recipe, really, but it tastes like you slaved over the stove for hours.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups heavy cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (can substitute shredded parmesan)

salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Directions

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the cream and butter to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 minute. Add 6 Tbs. of the cheese and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper and a generous pinch of nutmeg. (Be judicious with the salt. Parmigiano-Reggiano is salty, so too much added salt will throw this creamy, sweet sauce out of balance.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the freshness of the pasta. Drain the pasta well.

Put the pasta in a warmed large, shallow bowl. Pour on the sauce, sprinkle with 6 Tbs. of the cheese and toss well. Serve immediately. Pass the remaining cheese at the table. Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a first course.

2. Classic Bearnaise Sauce

This recipe comes from Mario Battali. This classic sauce is best known for adorning fine cuts of steak, but really, it can be used over almost anything. Use it over poultry or fish or vegetables to add a savory kick to any dish. It can also be used in place of hollandaise and can go so far as being used in sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

Ingredients

¼ cup white wine vinegar

1 small shallot, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 T. + 1 t. chopped tarragon leaves

2 egg yolks

12 T. unsalted butter, melted

kosher salt, to taste

splash of lemon juice

Directions

Put the vinegar, shallots, black pepper and 1 tablespoon of tarragon leaves into a small saucepan, and set over a medium flame. Bring just to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer until there are only a few tablespoons of liquid left, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

Fill a small saucepan with an inch or two of water, and set over medium-high heat to boil.

Put the cooled shallot-and-tarragon mixture into a metal mixing bowl along with a tablespoon of water and the egg yolks, then whisk to combine.

Turn the heat under the saucepan of water down to its lowest setting, and put the bowl on top of the pan, making sure that it does not touch the water directly. Continue to whisk the yolks until they thicken, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. You should just about double the volume of the yolks.

Slowly beat in the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time, whisking slowly to combine and emulsify. Remove the bowl from the pan occasionally, so as not to overcook the eggs, and taste the sauce. Season with salt. If the flavor is not sharp enough, add a splash of lemon juice. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a splash of hot water. Add the remaining teaspoon of tarragon leaves, and serve.

3. Four Seasons’ Brown Sauce (Sauce Espagnole)

This sauce is a bit of work, but it goes everywhere. It also freezes well, so you can make a large batch and freeze it in individual bags so that you can have it handy anytime.

Ingredients

2 T. pork fatback or bacon

½ cup sliced carrots

¼ cup chopped onions

1 t. thyme

1 bay leaf

1 T. salt

1 t. pepper

1 ½ cups flour

1/3 cup butter

1 ½ quarts beef stock (or any stock you prefer)

1 pound fresh tomato, peeled and chopped

1 cup white wine

Directions

Brown carrots and onions slowly with the fatback and add the seasonings.

Mix flour and butter to form a rouix and add, mixing well.

Add a quart of stock and simmer very slowly for three hours.

Strain.

Let stand overnight.

Add remaining stock, tomatoes and wine and simmer slowly for 2 hours, skimming fat and scum.

Strain again.

Use it right away or let it cool and place in the fridge for up to seven days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

A Single Tender Reed

 

A Single Tender Reed

stands gently at the shore

I wonder

does it dream of being something more?

Does it cry and wail with tears

in it’s seeming solitude?

Does it stand in quiet glory

with praise and fortitude?

When the rays of sun beat down

upon it’s tender soul

Does it yearn for cool clear waters

from the rivers raging flow?

Does it stand in awe and wonder

of the glory that it shares?

Does it see the birds, beasts, and meadows

or close it’s eyes and stare?

When the cruel, cold winds of autumn

press against its face

Does it whither and mourn in til Spring

or long for loving grace?

When the storms rain down upon it

does it cower and moan “why me?”

Does it welcome rain’s sweet folly

and embrace it lovingly?

Does the soft and gentle reed

find joy in it’s lush, bleek home

Does that single, tender reed

believe it truly stands alone?

Building Relationships

Feeling a little better. The pain is not so bad now. I still need the brace, but, I think I can get away with typing this up with two hands. So let’s just jump right into it, shall we?

Today’s bible message was again in the book of Daniel. I had already been through to chapter 7 so I didn’t spend too much energy listening real hard for every bit of information the pastor had to share. But my ears were perked up. What caught my attention was a passage where the pastor went on to another level. He talked about God being a person who hides from us sometimes in order to have us try harder to seek him out. It was something to do about building relationships. It was noted that there are times when God wants to be found and then there are times when He wants us to seek Him all the more.

I don’t know about that strategy. If it were me, I would be concerned that the person would get tired of “seeking” and end up walking away. But I am not God and I don’t know people as well as He does. I’m sure it’s a tried and tested method of His and that it works more often than not.

The whole premise of building relationships, then, is teetering on the seeker. Does that person want a relationship bad enough to continue seeking God, or, does that person lose patience with it all and say “screw it!?” I’ve been the latter quite a number of times. But, I always come back. I guess God is right.

The message centered on Daniel, Chapter 2. I don’t remember which verses specifically, but was somewhere from verse 24 all the way to verse 40-something. The pastor talked about the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had – the one with the statue of precious metals and how the kingdom of God will come to establish His reign on earth. I had read some commentary discussing exactly what the pastor said, but to hear it from another person rather than just reading it, well, it makes a difference. That is why I think it is very important to attend church services whenever possible.

Well, I’m gonna go. My hand is hurting and I don’t want to irritate it any more than I have to.

Y’all have a good day and stay out of trouble. I’ll be here nursing my wrist and hand for another few days.

Peace

Eric

Prayer Challenge

My hand is still in a brace. Please be patient.

So I started this prayer challenge. It is hosted or rather, inspired by, Max Lucado. It is the simplest prayer challenge I’ve ever come across.

http://beforeamen.com/prayer-challenge/

Click on the link above to check it out.

This hunt and peck is just too much work. Bye for now. Ihope to be back in full strength soon.

Y’all be safe out there.