A glimpse into the life and times of Julia. Loving, learning and growing my way through it all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What does that even mean?

So yesterday I went to see the gastroenterologist to get this pancreatitis thing figured out.
I'm so thankful that she was able to fit me in so quickly. She has a 6 month waiting list.
We chatted about how I was feeling, my medical history and all that good stuff. Seemed to go pretty well...until she told me that I need to go on a no-fat diet until it gets cleared up.
"You basically can't eat anything you didn't make yourself," is how she broke it down.
No fat?
What does that even mean?
Doesn't everything have fat in it?
I've been processing this for the past 24 hours and I am sad and excited by the challenge all at the same time.
Food is such a huge part of my life.
I cook when I'm happy and when I'm sad. The idea of not being able to cook the food I love makes me really sad.
But the new ideas are a brewing in this head of mine. Maybe some great will come out!
The other part is that most of the social things I do revolve around food. Not so much anymore.
I don't want to miss out on the fun because I can't eat out right now.
Guess its time to start thinking outside of the box friends!
All this to say I'm super glad to be on the path to recovery so I will do my best to stick to it and put a smile on my face.
And I guess if I lose a few pounds in the process that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh the horror!

I'm sitting in the waiting area at Women's College Hospital waiting to see the gastroenterologist.
It's not pretty in here.
Sort of looks like the beginning of a bad horror movie.
Big empty hall ways.
No one around.
A rattling sound in the distance.
If the fluorescent lights start flickering in so out of here.
Man I wish I knew how to kill zombies.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fare il brodo

In Italian the words fare il brodo mean make broth. And boy do the Italians like their broth. They make it often for things like tortellini in brodo, pastina, soups and many other things.

When I lived in Italy I made my fare share of brodo for The Nonna. She sure did like her pasta in brodo. I always felt strange making such a simple dish for the woman who used to make the most amazing food for our family and restaurant back in the day.
Remember when I told you about Nonna's amazing talent here?
But pasta in brodo was what she wanted, so I made it.
My Dad taught me how to make broth when I first arrived and my Italian wasn't perfect yet.
I'll never forget the first time I went to the macellaio or butcher by our house to buy the stuff to make it. I asked the butcher, he knew me at this point because I had been in a lot with my dad, for a piece of chicken to make broth. "Chicken?" he said, "your Dad always buys gallina or hen". I was super confused because I thought a hen was a chicken but I guess in the world of the butcher it is different, I told him that I'd take whatever my Dad usually gets and I was on my way. The broth turned out great then, the many times after that when I made it in Italy and now I make it here at home.

Sure it's easier to buy some OXO cubes and throw it into your recipe but there is nothing like the taste of homemade broth.

This morning I went to the St Lawrence Market and was inspired by all of the beautiful root vegetables in the north market to make stew. Well stew needs lots of delicious brodo so I decided to make some this afternoon. I had a few beef bones in the freezer from another stew I made a few weeks earlier so all I needed was some chicken or hen, oh who knows. I went to Upper Cut Meats and almost asked for gallina hoping that the the lovely young man who helped me would know what I was talking about. I asked for asked for chicken to make broth instead and he totally hooked me up with a bag of 3 chicken carcasses for only $1, score. I learned later that he did speak Italian so he totally would have know what I was talking about. We spoke a little Italian, I got nervous, said something dumb, blushed and said ci vediamo dopo, but that's another story for another time!!!.  :) Lost of butchers keep bones and such for that very reason so be sure to ask.

I wanted to share the recipe with you with step by step instructions so you can make it too.
I really hope you like it and use it in lots of different ways over our long cold winter.
If it ever actually gets cold!

A large piece of chicken  (or hen) with bones
A large piece of beef on a bone
A few large carrots
A few pieces of celery & tops
A large cooking onion
A few cloves of garlic
Bay leaves


Put bones into a large pot.

Wash and cut up vegetables into large pieces.

Make sure you use the tops of the celery with the leaves, they have lots of flavour!
These vegetables are going to be discarded after cooking so you don't have to get too picky about sizes etc.

Put the veggies into the pot with the meat.

Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and salt.

Fill the pot with cold water and turn the heat on to high.

Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn it down to low and let it simmer for about 2 hours.

You may need to skim the sludge (there may be a more technical word for it but I don't know what it is) off the top while it is cooking because it will make your broth cloudy and kind of  yucky (another technical term!).

After a few hours your broth should look like this!

You will know that it is done when it smells delicious and all of the meat and bones are falling apart.

Let it cool for about 15-20 minutes.

Take the big pieces out and put them in a large colander over a bowl to drain.
Once they have dripped off all of the delicious broth discard the vegetables and bones.
You can pick apart the meat and reserve it to put into whatever you are making later but it will be very dry and flavourless.

Pass all of the liquid through a fine colander or even cheese cloth if you have it.

The fewer particles the clearer your broth will be.

Put  your broth in a container for refrigeration or freezing.

The broth will last for about a week in the fridge and about 6 months in the freezer.

That's it! You made broth. You are so good!

A few tips:
-When you take it out of the fridge or freezer to use it there may be a layer of fat on top. You can easily remove it while the broth is still cold by skimming it off with a spoon.
-You can freeze broth in an ice cube tray and then transfer the froze broth cubes into a freezer bag. The broth cubes will add tons of flavour to pasta sauces and other dishes and will melt super quickly.

Let me know how your broth turns out. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apparently I drink too much.

I haven't been feeling well for the past few weeks.
Nothing huge.
Just a constant nauseous feeling.
Not fun.
No, I'm not pregnant.
Or hungover.
Thanks though.
Anyway, few weeks ago I visited my family doc to get it checked out.
She took blood and said to take some antacids. No big deal.
But then her office called me three days later to come in right away.
<insert freak-out here>
I couldn't get in until Monday so I spent the weekend with the fear of something huge in the back of my mind.
I'm sure that the "C" word is something that everyone worries about but when you experience it first hand with your Mother it feels like it could happen to you at any time.
As luck would have it (I doubt it was luck, I'm pretty sure it was a God thing) my Mom had an appointment with our doctor at the same time that day so we sat together as I waited to hear what I was sure what a death sentence.
I never said I wasn't dramatic.
When I finally got to see the doctor she explained that my blood test came back with some abnormalities. My pancreas enzyme was elevated which made her think that I had gall stones and she wanted me to have an ultrasound to check it out.
The next day at the ultrasound I studied that technician's face to see if she had any reaction.
She didn't.
She should play poker.
When I left the ultrasound place I was really sad. I wanted to be there for a happy reason like a pregnancy not a potential illness.
Fast forward a few days and I get a phone call from the dr's office asking me to come in right away.
Like that same day.
<insert freak-out here>
I go. Expecting the worst, praying for the best and know that whatever it is God will get us through it.
But it wasn't the worst.
I have pancreatitis from a viral infection.
She couldn't really tell me how I got it but it felt good to know what was going on.
What is pancreatitis you ask?
Good question because I really didn't know either.
Basically it is an inflammation of the pancreas.
You can read more about it on WebMD here.
Most people get it from excessive drinking.
Hilarious right?
Of all of the people in the world to get a condition that is linked to excessive drinking!
So basically I just have to take it easy for a few weeks and watch what I eat and it should run it's course.

If you want to come over to eat bland soup and watch movies in our sweat-pants just let me know!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Have you met...Giancarlo

This is my brother Giancarlo.
Well this was him about 28 year ago.
Wasn't he cute?
I guess he's still pretty cute.
His name is pronounced John-Car-Lo.
Sometimes I call him Brasha.
He calls me Shishta.
We're just silly like that.
Ginacarlo lives in Italy.

He moved there in 2006.
We lived there together for almost a year.
We shared a room at Nonna's house.
That was exciting.
He is one of my favourite people in the world.
He's kind and generous.
Sometimes to a fault but that may be in his genes.
He loves people and Jesus with a passion that is enviable.
He's an amazing teacher and loves working with kids and youth.
I think it's probably because he's just a big kid himself!
He has seen me at my worst and best but still loves me just the same.
This summer he told me I was the best big sister ever.
That meant a lot to me.
I miss him so much everyday.
I know that he has a life in Italy and I have my life here but I wish we could do everyday life together.
I know you're thinking "yeah, so they can fight everyday".
But that's just how we roll.
Through thick and thin we stick together.
Just wanted you to meet my Brasha so you'd know how great he is.