Saturday, May 26, 2012

strawberry almond cake

It's the end of a long, busy week, and the refrigerator was nearly empty this morning, except for that container of strawberries I bought last weekend, which no one had touched. The milk was nearly gone, we had about a half-cup of sugar, so how could I make a strawberry version of our summer favorite blueberry cake? I've never really forgotten any of my Make It Low Carb routines, mainly because I still use a lot of them. So, with some tweaking:

Strawberry Almond Cake
with vanilla and nutmeg

Wash and drain the stawberries. Hull and quarter them.
Drizzle them with about a tablespoon of sugar-free vanilla syrup. (I use Torani or DaVinci)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 9x13 pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan with no-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine:
1 C all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 C almond meal (I use Trader Joe's)
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C granulated Splenda
1/2 C Z-sweet (erythritol sweetener)
2/3 C shortening (I use Spectrum Organics)

Work these together until they look like crumbs. The fastest way to do this is with clean, dry fingers. The almond meal and the soft organic shortening work to make this a little sticky, but just scrape as much off your fingers as you can.

Reserve 3/4 C of the crumb mixture to sprinkle over the top.

To the remaining crumbs in the bowl, add:
1 scant tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
about 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg -- you don't want to taste the nutmeg, you just want it to enhance the other flavors

Stir all to combine well, then add:
1 C almond milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
2 eggs, beaten
Stir well to combine, making sure there are no clumps of dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly.

Sprinkle with about 1+1/2 cup of the sliced, macerated strawberries.
Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.
Lightly dust fresh grated nutmeg over the entire cake.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The strawberries were not the best ever, but they tasted awesome in this cake. The combination of the strawberries and almonds with the hints of vanilla and nutmeg was even better than I expected. Also even better than I expected is the texture, which is moist but not too heavy, perfect for a quick bread (which this is, notwithstanding that it's called cake).

It made a nice breakfast with coffee. It came out of the oven about five hours ago...there's about a quarter of it left. I doubt it will last till tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

clearly ambiguous

I received the ultrasound report in the mail today. Unfortunately, I was right to doubt the receptionist's cheerful "It's completely normal!" summary... but I don't think I'm headed for surgery, either. (whew!)

The report itself is a paragon of brevity. However, the concision with which the radiologist expressed his findings leads to some confusion on my part. For example, nearly all of the radiological literature (I'm great at reading this stuff, since ultrasound is one of the main tools for diagnosing thyroid cancer issues) clearly distinguishes between functional cysts and others. So the finding of a "small complex cyst with thickened wall and mural nodularity" is not entirely consistent with the impression, "Small complex cyst of the right ovary... likely reflects a small functional cyst".

That was the first impression, concluding with, "consider followup as indicated."

The second impression was that there were small follicles on the left ovary, with interval resolution of a left-sided ovarian cyst. So there was something going on there at some point, but what "interval" are we talking about here, the one since the last u/s report (November 2010)? Who knows.

At this point, I'll wait for my doctor to get back to his office (Tuesday), and call and ask how they want to follow up on this. I'm thinking -- hoping -- all he'll say is I need to go for another ultrasound in a bit. I can handle that.

In the meantime, the large amount of web pages discussing ovarian cysts are consistent in mentioning the very, very low occurrences of malignancy, so that's encouraging, too, even though thickened walls and mural nodules are flags that this particular cyst should be monitored.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

run around

It feels like I spent the entire weekend shopping with DD in preparation for the graduation recital this evening. Saturday was a bust, but Sunday was very successful, and she looked beautiful tonight. The boys were also quite handsome, notwithstanding their new haircuts. DS1's is too short, and DS2... well, there was a slight mishap with the trimmer. It will grow in.

Earlier today, DS2 had his fifth grade commencement ceremony. I left work at 1PM to get there on time, and it was delightful to leave. No one wanted to do anything today, and I fear that will be the case from now until the very last day, so I am essentially babysitting. It's not fun. Perhaps tomorrow will go better.

In between the commencement and the recital, we were home for about an hour. Since there was no call from the doctor about the ultrasound, I called the office. The receptionist told me that the doctor and his wife, the NP, are both out all week... but then she looked for the ultrasound report and told me that it was completely normal. I was nonplussed. First of all, that she would just give me a result over the phone like that without the doctor's say so -- but perhaps he had already seen the report and OK'd it. I don't know. Second, that the u/s showed absolutely nothing, because there is definitely something going on, and if it's not with the ovary, then what is it? That internal ultrasound took forever, and the tech was definitely measuring something. Normal ultrasounds are over in like 30 seconds. Usually.

I wondered if she read the correct report, so I asked her to mail me a copy. She said that she would be happy to, so I'll see it in a few days if she actually does put it in the mail. Maybe she was looking at the report from 2005 that said exactly the same thing: nothing.

It's good news, in the sense that it's not bad news, but it's still frustrating to feel so peaked and have no answer as to what's going on, and therefore no end in sight.

I flew threw the first two volumes (books) of Game of Thrones, but I'm resisting getting the next one until school is out. I would much rather be in Winterfell than in reality right now, but I simply have too much to get done before I can indulge like that.

Friday, May 18, 2012

breathe through it

Had the ultrasound on Wednesday without major discomfort. To be precise, I had two ultrasounds, the abdominal and the internal -- the first was quick with a few photos, the second interminably long with many, many photos. The tech took a million pictures with the Doppler on.  I am not encouraged.

I think:Please don't let this be cancer. I don't want to have surgery this summer. And I think, Well, even if it is, it must be small -- I just had that PET/CT scan in mid-March and it didn't show anything of significance.  (It did show a small metabolic focus in the left pelvis, chalked up to "physiologic (aka normal) activity in the ovary". Ha!) And then I try and think of other things that could cause this level of of ongoing pain and discomfort and general things-not-working-right , and there's really  not much.  More prolapse?  Fibromyalgia flare?  Seems like I'm reaching.  An ovarian cyst is the best fit, but what kind of cyst?  I just keep hoping it will go away, like all the others have.  Most functional cysts have resolved before they hit the 6 week mark, and this one hasn't.

In the meantime, I've gained about 5 pounds at the worst possible time, but it doesn't matter what I eat or don't eat because 3 solid weeks of very faithful dieting netted me a zero pound weight loss.  Whatever it is that's going on, I'm not going to drop those 5 pounds (now up to 10) that I had wanted to, before summer and bathing suit weather.  Too bad. 

Kids start their last week of school Monday, and Monday is DS2's 5th grade commencement and the graduation recital for all 3 in the evening.  From there, it's all downhill for them.  Me, I have to make it through June 1 to be well and truly done.

I hope for news on Monday -- if I don't hear anything, I'll call on Tuesday.  The waiting really is the hardest part, I turn into a big ball of tension and forget to breathe.  So I try to remember that, and not take my stresses out on everyone around me.  Inhale, exhale... inhale, exhale...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

there goes another month...

I had hoped that after all my testing was over and I finally had my answer that I would have some kind of peace. It turns out that whatever relief I got from the resolution of the medical situation was replaced with other stresses, so it was all a wash.

Kids are fine, husband is fine, house is fine. School oscillates between being deeply satisfying and unbelievably frustrating. I'm struggling with lesson plans that work beautifully with two classes and fail utterly with two others. I don't get it. I remind myself of the Chinese proverb defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen. Me, I hope that when I do the same thing -- teach a particular lesson -- I get the same results, or at least something similar. No luck.

I remain at a loss for how to deal with certain students. "I didn't know you wanted us to learn this, I thought we just had to take the notes," one student said to me today. Of course the entire purpose of taking the notes is to help the students learn, and I have -- innumerable times -- explicitly told them that, just as I have explained why I ask them to do each particular task or assignment. Everything I ask them to do is to help them learn, but at this point, I'm left with no alternative but to assume they are being willfully oppositional. Of course that's exhausting, and sad -- they don't trust me, or care enough to try, and that's very hard to deal with.

In among all this foolishness is an ovarian cyst I have been dealing with since Easter. I hope it resolves soon. Standard medical advice says to wait 4 weeks before contacting the doctor. I really don't want to deal with yet another round of medical testing.

Tomorrow is May, and the whirlwind begins in earnest: a concert with DD, Feed My Starving Children, the last debate tournament of year, ASP testing for the kids, graduation recital, awards dinners, finals, etc and so forth, straight through to Memorial Day. I don't finish school until June 1st... only one more month.

Many plans have been made for the summer, very few for beyond that. We'll see.