Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Not-So-Happy One Year Anniversary

Today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving -- a day that will always live in infamy for me, at least.  It was the kick-off to one of the most difficult years of my life.  One that would test me in ways I had never been tested before.

Last year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day, my life changed dramatically for the worse.  When I say "worse," I mean I was previously in pretty good shape.  I had maintained a much-needed weight loss of 50 pounds for about 18 months.  While I would never be a bikini model, I was able to do most anything that struck my fancy:  bike, run, hike, climb, snow ski, water ski, etc.  But when I got out of bed that particular morning, I stood on two feet that felt broken.  It was weeks before I got any relief, and in the meanwhile, other strange symptoms emerged:  my hands felt as though all the bone inside had been crunched by an unseen force; various joints randomly failed to operate; muscles from hips on down tightened to the point I thought they would snap, and they throbbed as though pulsing with electric current.  Later, I thought I would go insane from insomnia.  I felt powerless to do any of the things that make me happy, and sometimes, I was in such pain I avoided drinking water for fear of having to get up and walk to the bathroom.  It was a dark time for me, and there were occasions that I felt my life, as I knew it, was over.  By April, I had lost hope that the mystery would be solved and I would be "stuck" that way.  I began to express these thoughts out loud, by way of explaining to people why I wouldn't be able to do all I was expected to.  Five months had passed, and nothing had changed except an increase in the number of alarming and energy-draining symptoms.   I started to withdraw from life and I mourned that which would never be.  Or so I thought.

At six months in, when I had nothing to lose by trying even the weirdest ideas, the lightning of healing finally struck.  Early on, someone had suggested to me that I try to eliminate gluten from my diet.  As a subscriber to the South Beach Diet (good fats, lots of fiber, whole foods, and plenty of water), I was sure my food intake couldn't be the problem. But finally, in desperation,  I did eliminate gluten on a trial basis starting on May 1st -- along with corn and dairy.  I also launched my first ever "cleanse."  Three weeks later, it dawned on me one afternoon:  I was in a total absence of pain! 

Hindsight is 20/20 isn't?  How I wish I had listened to that person who first mentioned "gluten-intolerance."  I am 45 years old.  Six months is a lot of time to waste in the Big Scheme of things! So I've had to adapt to a new concept of healthy dieting.  I am not celiac, but "gluten intolerant."  Nope, whole wheat and whole grains just aren't good things for me.  It doesn't matter how organic the wheat/gluten is (I'm still not sure if it is just wheat or all gluten), in 24 to 36 hours after I ingest a good chunk or the final straw in a camel's back of small tastes, I will experience that all-too-familiar sensation of broken-up, gelatinous bones.  Corn has a slightly different but almost as egregious effect on me, but I do think I can now have some dairy.  The jury is still out on how much is too much.

Even the last six months of new hope have been difficult.  It takes the mind a while to wrap around such a significant lifestyle change.  Next time you are in the grocery store, just try to find a product without corn and/or wheat in it!  You'll find these ingredients in the strangest places.   I recently watched Food Inc. to try to understand the reason for that.  King Corn is next.  It is good, in that it forces me to avoid most empty carb calories.  It is good, in that it makes me read all labels.  It is bad, in that most gluten-free items are ridiculously expensive, and that my friends often feel inconvenienced by planning around my "intolerances." 

Back to the 50 pounds I had lost.  About 20 of it is back.  Sadly, most things that are produced as gluten-free are chock-full of sugar, which I didn't eat at all before this.  Rice flour (a simple carb) replaces whole grain (a complex carb).  So I constantly struggle with mixed instructions on what I can/should eat. 

My goal for this next year is to find my balance again.  I want to rejoin the life I had before.  I want to climb the highest mountain, and then ski down.  I want to be ready for opportunities to challenge myself as they present themselves, without the huge training curve.  By next Thanksgiving, my story will be one of victory!

Queenofthehill in Alta,Utah, 2 years ago. Happy as a pig in slop!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Pacific Northwest

We walked here from the waterfront, but you couldn't
have convinced me to go up to the top for all the
tea in China!  (Or coffee in Seattle!)
I'm always amazed at the scenery when I travel to my husband's sometimes-childhood home in Central Washington State.  Typically, we fly into Seattle and then drive to the place his dad and step-mom currently live.

This is beautiful, downtown Leavonworth.
It's a medium-sized town called Wenatchee in the Columbia River basin.  In doing so, we pass through several distinct climates.  Seattle is uber wet, with the Puget Sound and Lake Washington to draw your attention.  Then you go from Big City to suburb to truly small town as you drive up and out of Western Washington.  The Cascade Mountains are even more wet and rich with evergreen and thick undergrowth, but sparsely populated with cabins and orchards and what we Southerners like to call Gentlemen's Farms.  Once across the mountain pass of your choice, you reach drier climes, until you are practically in the desert, if not for heavy use of irrigation. 

This is the front stoop of my in-laws' bed
and breakfast, and yes, that's an heirloom

We marvel at the unscreened doors, and antique porch furniture.  In the humidity of the South, you would never leave anything of value outdoors, for fear of moss growing up its North side.  Bugs are a given back home, but comparatively innocuous here.  Fall has already come here, in earnest.  There's a chill in the air and a hint of gold in the landscape. 

The famous Pike Street Market.
Whenever I come here, I feel that I stick out like a sore thumb.  There's a certain style among Seattleites, to be sure.  There's no nice way to say this, but it can very difficult to ascertain who is actually homeless and who is, uh, not.  [But I mean that in the nicest possible way!]  I find myself looking at the quality of the backpack and hiking shoe to decide whose Starbucks cup is meant for collecting coinage and who is actually just partaking of the nectar of the gods. 

My boys on a pier along the waterfront in Seattle.
I love that there are bicyclists everywhere.  I love that people are running and walking, in spite of inclement weather.  I love that the color of the water, even right here at the Waterfront, is azure blue and clear as a bell.  I love that the air smells fresh and pollution free.  I love the views of the far-off and not-so-far-off mountains and how, unlike other places I have lived, there isn't a barrier of smog between here and there.  Clearly, they are doing something right.

As my Grandpa "Benton" used to say, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."  They are skinning some mighty fine cats here in Seattle, but I'm glad I have East Tennessee to go home to.
Notice this neon sign near Pike Street Market 
says "Turkish Delight."  I took this photo because Madam
SmallWorld had been experimenting at making the stuff.
I know it reminds her of Edmund. :-)

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Simplest Ideas are the Best

You can tell I love all this organizational stuff!
I get really into it for like two days each year.
School -- or in our case, homeschool -- has been in session full-time for two weeks now.  ALL of my freshman boy's classes are taught by other people, which means my task is merely to go through all the syllabi* and break all the tasks into edible chunks and then fit them into the context of each day.  This involves my daily flipping through a binder where I dutifully stowed my copy of the class info from the teachers into the protective sleeves, or just three-hole-punched and inserted, using labeled dividers.  I then pen the instructions for the day onto a spiral-bound notebook.  I stole the spiral-bound part from Mrs. Smallworld.  Yes, it is pathetic that an idea so simple and so low-tech had to be stolen!  Yet it works so well, I want to slap myself on the forehead 10 times a day and say "why didn't I think of this before?"  I draw a box beside each "to-do" and he puts a check in it when the individual tasks are complete.  I'm doing this for my 6th grader as well and am flabbergasted at how inspirational he finds an empty box waiting for a check!

No, this is not my family.  We are nowhere near this neat!
The second embarrassingly simple idea that I've adopted this year is twice-daily sit-down FAMILY meals.  Yes, I know that every other homeschooling family on earth probably already did this, but up until two weeks ago, I was very likely to slap something together, summarily drop the King's portion onto his desk in his cave, seat the boys at the counter to eat like cavemen and then crawl into my easy chair to catch CNN during our lunch break.  With the cooler weather -- and let's be honest here, the big pile of junk on my kitchen table that rendered it useless -- it became pleasant to just carry all the food out to the big table on the screen porch.  Well, the first day of school, the King decided he could take a few moments out to sit with us. He works from home and is here most days.  One thing led to another, and we decided to quiz one boy on his Spanish vocabulary and another on the status of his chore list (coming up next!).  Before we knew what happened, we were having twice daily check-ins on progress and a whole lot less was slipping through the cracks.  Not only is it making it less likely that any students get away with a sorry work-ethic, but it fulfills a real need in creating more focused family-time all around.  Our four-year old loves it, sets out the silverware, and demands his turn when it comes to asking the blessing.  It helps the King be more involved in the daily workings of our homeschool, as well.  And I sometimes needed the reinforcement of a "principal" figure.  After only two weeks, this program has been such a raging success that I am now sad for all the lost years I've spent not doing this.

I guess my idea of putting the kids
to work isn't a new one.
Which leads me to the Chore Charts.   My children and their habits have really suffered from my frequent failure to hold them accountable on various fronts over the years.  I admit I have failed in this, but I will save you the boredom of hearing me psychoanalyze myself.  The short story is that I'm lazy.  I am inconsistent.  I am overcommitted.  I am distractable.  We'll just leave it at that, shall we?  But I'm hoping I can still turn it around.  I think the humble checkbox may just be the answer!  For years, the King has encouraged me to require more from the kids in helping me around the house or at least cleaning up after themselves and I struggled with how I could do that consistently without having to be a constant nag.  So I spent a great deal of time before we started school re-doing their rooms.  Really, I just restored them to sanity!  So this created a "baseline" for them to aspire to in maintaining their private spaces, in addition to a number of other tasks they are perfectly able to do.  I created a very comprehensive list and designed a Chore Chart for each child.  For the younger school-aged boy, I included matters of daily hygiene and health (like drinking water and taking vitamins), as well as a reminder of piano practice.  There are things that must be done daily and then different things that are done in addition to the daily list on Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends.  Every item and every day has a place for a check mark.  I also included a comment line to record whether the duties were completed with too many reminders or with a bad attitude.  So far, so good!  There are no dust bunnies on my stairwell (middle son, Wednesdays) and no leaves on my driveway or decks (oldest son, Fridays).  My teen doesn't complain that his laundry hasn't been done because he has been assigned a laundry day of his own.

I feel as though these simple new initiatives are restoring a bit of control, hopefulness (on my part!), and joy to our household and family.  Even as I type that, I am reminded of something Beth Moore said in one of her "Beloved Disciple" bible study videos.  This is not a direct quote, but it went something like this:  We just think we're in control.  Then we realize we are standing there holding a leash with an empty collar attached to the other end and the dog is long gone!

What new amazing ideas have you incorporated into your homeschool this year that are simple enough for even me to try?

*I looked up the plural of syllabus and was flabbergasted to learn that either "syllabi" or "syllabuses" would work.  Who knew?  And that's my random grammar thought for the day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Were They Thinking?

Pardon me if I've expressed disdain for this before, but what on earth were they thinking to work a "damp dry" indicator into all the automatic drying settings on my clothes dryer?  I mean, if I didn't know the fabric was damp, would I have put it into the dryer?  HELLO!

My Aunt Joyce used to have a wringer washer a lot like this one in her basement.  It really could have doubled as a medieval torture device. 

I suppose that I should just be glad my washer/dryer system doesn't look and function like the one in this photo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Words that don't get used often enough: Jingoism

I've heard this word.  But only because it has been used in the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee for several years, at least.  And while I thought it had something to do with prejudice, I couldn't have given you a coherent definition to save my life.  Oddly, this word "jingoism" has come up in conversation or email twice within the last 48 hours!  I took this as a sign that this should be covered under my "Words That Don't Get Used Often Enough" category.   

Embarrassingly enough, it doesn't mean what I thought it did, either! So, I present to you the word Jingoism:


\ˈjiŋ-(ˌ)gō-ˌi-zəm\ noun

Definition of JINGOISM

: extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy
jin·go·ist\-ist\ noun or adjective
jin·go·is·tic\ˌjiŋ-gō-ˈis-tik\ adjective
jin·go·is·ti·cal·ly\-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of JINGOISM

  1. When the war began many people were caught up in a wave of jingoism.
  2. jingoism will not win us any foreign allies>

First Known Use of JINGOISM


It really makes you wonder what happened in 1878, doesn't it?  I've got your back.  It was the Russo-Turkish War (just before the second Boer War) and the etymology of the word comes from the British use of the term "by Jingo," which Wikipedia quaintly calls a "long-established minced oath." 

So, I hope you'll try to find a way to use "jingoism" at least once in the next week.  And be patient with me while I try to work it into a sentence, too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote of the Weekend

Why is it that the cutest, cleverest comments always materialize from the backseat of the car?  I was driving home yesterday and D said, "Mommy, what 'trols people?"  Now little D, aged 4, knows all about how 'mote 'trols make TVs and VCRs work, and 'trollers make Wiis work, etc., so I knew what he meant.  I mulled over all sorts of philosophical answers about what makes people tick, then landed on "the brain."  I was pretty proud of my succinct, scientific answer.  He thought a moment and then said, "Well, what 'trols bugs then, because they sure don't have a brain!" 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quick and Easy fish recipe

When I can find fresh fish marked "wild caught" at the supermarket, I try to snap it up.  Yesterday, I got lucky and found a pack of mahi mahi.  My luck held out through the effort of googling for a recipe, when I found this one quickly and had all the ingredients handy.  Now how often does that happen?  This was truly the tastiest fish I've ever served, and was perfect alongside quinoa, corn on the cob, and buttered artisan bread slices for my family.  This only took about 35 minutes, start to finish.

Note:  I substituted organic Tamari for the soy sauce due to my wheat intolerance and had to skip the corn and bread for myself. 

Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi


  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (6 ounce) mahi mahi fillets
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. In a shallow glass dish, stir together the honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic and olive oil. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper, and place them into the dish. If the fillets have skin on them, place them skin side down. Cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes to marinate.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove fish from the dish, and reserve marinade. Fry fish for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, turning only once, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fillets to a serving platter and keep warm.
  3. Pour reserved marinade into the skillet, and heat over medium heat until the mixture reduces to a glaze consistently. Spoon glaze over fish, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Long tailed cat... a room full of rocking chairs.

These days, everywhere I turn, I'm having to watch my tongue and guard my heart from sharing too much.  My innermost thoughts would doubtless render me a pariah.  And as hard as this is to picture me doing (I'm infamous for my unfortunate, accursed bluntness), I often practice the art of the polite nod and smile in the face of the off-hand, meant-to-be-humorous, and understood-to-be-widely-agreed-upon political commentary of others.  I have mastered the internal eye-roll.  The problem, it seems, is that it is simply understood in all the circles that I "travel"  that I'm a conservative person.  But what does that really mean?


1.disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2.cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3.traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4.( often initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5.( initial capital letter ) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
6.having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
7.Mathematics . (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.
8.person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
9.a supporter of conservative political policies.
10. ( initial capital letter ) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain.
11.a preservative.
Except for that whole math thing (see #7 - I mean, what the heck is "irrotational" and "lamellar?") and right up to the assumption of wildly cohesive "group think" on #9 and 10 and a growing number of odd ball issues covered on Fox News daily, I am conservative.   But still, I don't fit in anywhere 100%.  Not at church, not in my homeschool group, not in my neighborhood, and rarely at local political events.  (Note: I don't normally get involved in political events that are not local.)

I grew up in a church that taught that, since our Kingdom was not of this world, we shouldn't become involved in the political process. Hence, I never voted until 2002, when I was 37.  Those of you who know me know that I have since made up for lost time. ;-)    Rather than party affiliation, though, I choose to align my  political action with issues.  I just don't believe that everyone in America falls neatly under one of 2 columns:  Republican or Democrat.  Even if you throw in Libertarian, Constitution, or Green Party, you still haven't begun to cover it.  And I'm just not about phoney baloney labels.  Yes, they serve a purpose, but it is limited -- and if you really do your homework -- almost entirely unnecessary.  The politicians I support are people who will make a difference on matters that are important to me in positions of power to do so.  I don't select local politicians by their position on issues that local government has no impact on, any more than I vote for president based on whether or not my local water source is fluoridated or our local Zoning Laws are administered properly.

My own family has suffered egregiously because of this very human need for labels.  The scars go all the way back to the Civil War, believe it or not.  I can tell you stories of death over better pots of coffee.  Again, if you know me, this isn't hard to picture -- we must have some genetic defect where caffeine is concerned!  But in spite of this and my early neglect of politics and his own personal political "war' wounds, my father eventually became my teacher on this difficult, taboo topic of "politics."  His political views are simple to understand:    
The Golden Rule.
"Mat 7:12  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
 I agree with my dad.  This should be our focus in all that we do.  Never more so than in our own communities.  I'm 45 now, and undisputedly (is that a word?) in the latter part of my life.  I think I've reached a point in which I'm going to move away from polite nodding, put on my Big Girl Pants and clearly identify myself as an advocate for the Politics of the Golden Rule.   Won't you join me?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where'd My Summer Go?

I had barely stopped giggling maniacally that the school year was over when poof! Another was upon me. Seriously? I haven't even turned in my grades for the first semester of last year, much less finished off the year in the required triplicate. As of today, I did manage to get all the orders (that I've thought of!) in for curriculum for the 2010-11 year. It totalled some $350+ and would have been more except I already had so many of the texts I needed due to a bad case of OCD.

While trying to organize the space I'm setting aside for homeschooling this year, I was appalled -- shocked and awed at the sheer volume of my book collection. What was I thinking? Honestly, I think I thought I was going to be a MUCH better mom than I really am. Yes, I thought I'd need two books of 175 science experiments each. Evidently, I thought we'd be using my college vocabulary workbooks, along with resources with which one could learn German, Latin, Spanish, AND French.

When I started homeschooling, I thought it would be the ultimate act of sculpture, only better. Not only would I chisel out 3-D masterpieces in cute little boy form, but I would shape their minds! Somewhere along the line, though, I realized that the marble contained mostly pre-ordained images and I would never be the Michaelangelo to free them much differently from the dictates of the raw Carrara marble. My kids are what they are, and that is how I like them.

I also like being a homeschool mom. I like having them around me when the light bulb goes off. I like being the worst influence they experience all day. And how will I later gauge my success? Will it be in the number of languages they master? Honestly, at this point, I'll be happy if they master English! Their eventual ACT scores? No, it will be based on whether -- when they grow up -- they'll come home for Game night, bring home herds of friends at Thanksgiving, and later (when the time is right) ask me to babysit!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aging Gracefully

I know I am 45 years old and all, but I am simply not prepared to deal with the rigors of aging. Not that there's a good alternative, of course! But this last year has been a little like the oft-referenced ride "to hell in a handbasket." It's downright unnerving! Suddenly, I'm falling apart. It's like someone flipped a switch.

It seems like only yesterday that I was adjusting to life with my first newborn. The sum total of my challenges was dealing with the transition from career to stay-at-home mom and how to adequately stimulate aforementioned baby's brain. As though he needed any help in that department! And then suddenly, here I am. Enjoying perfect skin. Flawless, even. Not because of my expensive skin care products and rigorous routine (as if!), but because I can't see a darn thing within 18 inches of my face.

And then there is a plethora of life-induced problems; a bad knee to limit activity, acquired food intolerances that cost me 6 months of pain to discover, the odd benign tumor that I have yet to deal with, and the increased pressure precedent to glaucoma to worry about. But really, the hard part for me is the wondering. I'm now, undoubtedly, in the second half of my life. Will I be able to live it abundantly? Will I be blind? Or will I be otherwise limited by my body? My long-time fantasy has been to avail myself of the generosity of the state of Utah by being able to take advantage of the "ski free" program for folks over eighty. The good news is that I still have 35 years before I'll qualify, and hopefully, my children will keep me "young" so that I'll be in good enough shape to avail myself of the program!

I'm certainly glad that I've lived long enough to learn a few things about what is important in life and what is not. I feel such embarrassment about the person I used to be. I'm sure I will eventually feel a similar level of embarrassment about my current maturity level when I look back on it from some ski lift in my distant future. I guess that is all a natural part of aging, as well. I'm sure a google's worth of people have wished they could match their older mind to their youthful body.

The title of this blog is a misnomer. Or maybe it's a "from my lips to God's ear" sort of title. Aging gracefully is something I'd like to be able to do, but have no idea how to accomplish. To me, it means remaining in control and not gradually amassing a list of things I can no longer do. How are the rest of you doing at this? Is your age beginning to affect your quality of life? What do you know now that you wish you knew "when?" I'd welcome your thoughts. :-)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's for dinner?

After tiring of the usual mealtime stress around here (not to mention the endless bowls of chili and blackbean soup wrought from the lack of preparation), Kingofthehill finally convinced me to resign myself to the making of weekly menus - complete with corresponding shopping lists. I became a believer within the first two days! What an epiphany to have both a luscious-looking new recipe AND the ingredients to make it! What took me so long?

I noticed that Madam SmallWorld does the same, and have ripped off several of her ideas in the past couple of weeks. Namely the Greek Pasta Bake and Chipotle Tomato Soup. Save the Pasta dish for when you are serving an army or need to freeze a few dishes ahead. It really produces! It is also really tasty and South Beach friendly. And I could live off that Tomato Soup. I really could. I ate it for like 5 days in a row and nearly cried when I scraped the last drop out of the bowl. Be brave and put like 3 chipotle peppers in -- then add more diced chipotles to your own bowl for an amazing lift if you like spicy stuff. So thank you for those ideas, SmallWorld!

So, here's what is on the menu for this week at my house:

I went heavy on choices from The Pioneer Woman Cooks because, well, she's funny. And who doesn't need humor while making out a menu?? It is bad enough to finally have to succumb to the human need for structure after years of living in denial!

Note: I use whole wheat pasta everywhere it calls for pasta, and since I don't eat pork, I substitute some other kind of bacon where called for. And evidently, the recipes I've tried so far are pretty forgiving.

Chicken Capri (from Lisa Best)

This will work for the South Beach Diet Phase 1.

This dish tastes like it took you all day, but it can be done in 30 minutes. The chicken goes especially well with a crisp garden salad topped with any South Beach Diet–approved dressing. Makes 4 servings.

1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 slices reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine the ricotta with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Process to blend.

Rub the chicken with the garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 12 minutes per side. Place the chicken breasts, side by side, in a large baking dish and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and 1/4 cup tomatoes onto each chicken breast. Top each chicken breast with 1 slice mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of a breast register 170°F and the juices run clear.

Nutritional Information:
340 calories
15 g fat (5 g sat)
6 g carbohydrate
44 g protein
1 g fiber
470 mg sodium
115 mg cholesterol

Turnip and Chickpea (Garbanzo bean) Cobbler - From Blair Beaumont

This will work for Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet.

A good mid-week meal with an attractive savoury scone (bisquit) topping. Use a star shaped cutter for the topping. Serves 4-6.

1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
3 medium sized turnips, chopped
1 small sweet potato, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
3 T sunflower oil
1/2 t ground coriander (cilantro)
1/2 t dried mixed herbs
1 x 15 oz (450g) can chopped tomatoes
1 x 14 oz can chick peas (garbanzos)
1 vegetable stock cube (bouillon)
salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups self rising flour
1 t baking powder
4 T margarine
3 T sunflower seeds
2 T Parmesean cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk

1. Fry all the veggies in the oil for about 10 mins until they are soft. Add the coriander, herbs tomatoes, chick peas with their liquor and stock cube. Season well and simmer for 20 mins.

2. Pour the veggies into a shallow casserole dish while you make the topping. Preheat oven to 375F.

3. Mix together the flour and the baking powder, then rub in the margarine until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the seeds and parmesan cheese. Add the milk and mix to a firm dough.

4. Lightly roll out the topping to a thickness of 1/2 inch and stamp out star shapes or rounds. Or simply cut it into small squares.

5. Place the shapes on top of the vegetable mixture and brush with a little extra milk. Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden brown. Serve hot with green leafy vegetables.