Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grammy, Stir fry, and Baked Veggie Chips

Sunday morning I lost a very important woman in my life, my paternal grandmother, affectionately known as Grammy. She'd been airlifted to the hospital in October and it was a miracle she lived through the night, with the help of a breathing machine. It was her wish to not be on the machine, so they tried to remove her, but it wasn't successful, so they had to put her back on for the next night. We waited anxiously for them to try the next day and I knew then that if she was able to regain the ability to breath on her own that anytime we had left with her was "borrowed time," that I'd be forever grateful for.

She bravely trucked on these past three months, living in her apartment on my parents' property, a brief stint in a nursing home for physical therapy, and trips to and from North Carolina and Virginia hospitals. I talked to her a few times a week and without fail, every single time, the first question she would ask me was "How's your food page?" My parents would occasionally bring it up online for her so she could read what I'd been making and take a look at the pictures. Once she was in the hospital I would either update her via our phone conversations, or my parents would tell her I'd updated and she'd inquire.

Johnny and I were able to change our Christmas trip plans to detour up to NC from FL and we spent some time with her in the VA hospital on December 30 and 31st. I didn't know what to expect, but she was still my Grammy, vivacious and full of life as usual. We joked with a family friend that she was really in there to receive a boob job and shared a few laughs over the bad hospital food. I could see she was really weak and tired, so deep down I knew this would probably be the last time I'd get to see her. She still wanted to hear about my food blog, even as my dad helped her with cubes of jello, which she insisted could be any flavor, but grape!

The last time I spoke with her was Friday afternoon, and again, the first thing she said was that my mom told her I'd updated my page and she wanted to hear about the new recipes. When my dad called Sunday, as I was reaching for the phone I had a feeling he was calling to tell me she'd passed away. I'd kind of prepared myself, knowing the past few weeks what the situation was, but it's still hard when you hear it. The first day was the roughest, but I know she's in a better place and something I'd never wanted was for her to have an extended period of suffering.

She was such a wonderful woman, raising 6 kids of her own (5 of them boys!) and was an attentive, devoted grandmother, so proud of her 9 grandkids and what was going on in their lives. I'm lucky to have a lot of great memories, many of them in the kitchen, full of laughter, love and family and I will always cherish them. I know it'd make her really happy to see I'm updating my "food page," so here's what we had for dinner tonight...

Stir fry! Jennifer at Slim-Shoppin' shared a picture of hers the other day and it looked so delicious with the noodles. I realized I usually spoon our stir-fry over rice, so I wanted to try the noodles thing, too. First, I cooked some spaghetti as usual and drained it. Next, I stir fried some chicken, onion, green peppers, carrots, and celery in soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Near the end I scrambled an egg in, stirred in some pre-chopped garlic, and threw in a handful of peanuts. Then, I tossed everything together with the noodles and it was fantastic! The funny thing is, I never get any dishes over rice when ordering Chinese take-out, I always get lo mein with the noodles. I guess I just never connected to make my own at home. Chinese at home was always over rice, for some odd reason!

Then, after dinner I wanted to try out a recipe that I'd had my Taste of Home flipped to for a couple weeks. I even made sure we bought the items at the grocery store, so everything was on hand. The recipe is "baked veggie chips" and calls for:

2 medium beets
1 medium potato
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium parsnip
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
dash pepper

You peel the veggies and cut into 1/8" slices. For this, I used my Cuisinart slicer blade - accomplishing all the slicing in only 3 minutes, flat. Next, you just place all the veggies in a large bowl, throw in the ingredients and stir around to coat. Arrange in a single layer on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Sounds easy, right? Didn't go so well for me. The recipe says it makes about 3 and 1/2 cups, which seemed kind of small to me, for all the effort it takes. I used 3 beets and larger versions of the rest of the veggies. Except for parsnips, which our grocery store was out of (and broccoli too, believe it or not), so I used carrots in their place. Racheal Ray says parsnips are "just carrots with attitude." I also omitted the Parmesan cheese, for Johnny's sake.

But I baked and I baked... and I baked. For 50 minutes, coming every 10 minutes to flip them and rotate the pans. And I ended up with a mixture of half gooey, roasted veggies and half burned to a literal ashen char crisp of what were once veggies. I think the problem were the beets, because they are naturally a lot juicer than the other veggies you're baking. In the future I'm going to bake the beets on their own, starting a lot earlier than the other veggies. This will also help to prevent the stain-every-single-thing-bright-red phenomenon that occured on my baking sheets!

Here's a picture of what the magazine taunted me with. Maybe someday I'll be able to munch on them, myself. They sure do look good, don't they?


Nowheymama said...

I'm so sorry about your grandmother, but I love the story about your "food page."

Those chips look deep fried to me. I cry foul. ;)

Anonymous said...

I've never had any luck with baked chips either! Much easier to buy them!!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your Grandma. We called ours Grammy too! It is so nice that she would inquire about your "food page". I'm glad the stir fry worked out. I love the beet chips they sell at whole foods, but they are like $5.00 for a small bag! I hate beets, but love beet chips!

KMG said...

You might really enjoy this one. I also am raising Six Children, Five of them are boys.


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