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My life sucks right now - rather than drink, I COOK!!

Hi all. A quick overview: I'm a 30-yr. paralegal turned over the road trucker, married to an over the road trucker who's been diagnosed with lymphoma (2nd time), trying to pay off his truck, a house and all the usual bills of living. He'll be in the hospital next week for 1 month for stem cell transplant while I slog up an down the roads trying to make enough (with today's fuel bills) to cover everything. It's downright depressing!! So, when I can't take anymore, I turn to my kitchen and cook myself silly. I was in Lafayette, LA, recently and had a bowl of the Rice Palace's "Gumbo" which, after 2 spoonfuls, I pushed aside. So, this evening, after bringing husband home from the hospital, I broke out my stuff and made my own shrimp/sausage gumbo. Killer stuff, if I say so myself. It's a combo of 2 southern recipes and my own additions and it was super. So what do you guys do when the bottom of your world falls out?? I need some recipes that are nourishing, involved (but not too...), good, that will take my mind off husband, creditors, needed truck repairs without $ to do them, but we will, by God, eat well. Any suggestions?

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  1. You might find some recipes by looking to see what you have in hand, putting it into the search box, and see if you like whatever recipes come up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joebob

      Hey! Great idea!! I never thought of that but will give it a try.
      Thanx Joebob.

    2. Bread -- it's incredibly satisfying to turn out a loaf of bread, and the kneading is a fabulous stress reducer!

      3 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Though I appreciate the wonders of bread, I can't bake my way out of a paper bag!! Have never been able to make decent pie crust, EVER. My last loaf of bread was used as a door stop. Maybe cookies?? Thanx, though.

        1. re: caiatransplant

          I am also a bum baker, but even I can bake this loaf. No kneading, but good eating. :)

          http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

          Good luck with all....

          1. re: caiatransplant

            I HATE baking sweets and my pie crust comes from the Pillsbury box, but no-knead bread is un-screw-up-able, IMO. ;)

            Best wishes to you in this tough time!

        2. So very sorry for your circumstances. Much to bear and hard to persevere.
          I make soup. Lentil sausage or the old gypsy soup from Moosewood.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ldubois2

            What's old Gypsy soup?? Sounds interesting. Got a recipe?

          2. What a terribly difficult time you are going through, caiatransplant. So sorry to hear of your husband's illness and I commend your determination to get through this without the crutches you mentioned. Cooking beats drinking any day of the week.
            I love the soup and bread suggestions above. It is so important to feed yourself well; even, as MFK Fisher would say, "to treat yourself as a guest." Stews and braises also would be good; they're adaptable to any number of spices and preparations; they smell great, they can be economical, and are delicious and healthy. Pots of vegie stew as well: eggplants, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, spices....great as a soup base or stirred into pasta, eaten as a side dish, as an omelet filling, and so on. Roasted chicken with a pan of stuffing on the side and some vegies baked or roasted at the same time is awesome, and lasagna is always good, vegetarian or no. I have a son who is in the hospital more than not, and one thing I like to do is bake; not so much for our house, but for the nurses at the station and the doctors on the service. They don't get a lot of homebaked treats (I just make simple quick breads, coffeecakes, muffins, cookies and the like, though once I did make pizza.) They don't really get many true goodies on their long shifts and are always appreciative. Yep, it smacks of bribery but I don't care: it's an inroad to a more human relationship with the medical staff and they are always extra-accomodating and very, very pleasent. I'm sure that would be the truth in any case, but they sure do seem to like the baked goods, and I feel their "thank yous" in the care they give my boy.
            And always remember: you can always load up a big baked potato with butter and sour cream and salt and pepper and chives and call it dinner. : )
            Best of all good luck to you in this situation. Hang tough.
            Marci

            2 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              Thanx so much, mamachef. You brought tears to my eyes. Hug.

              1. re: mamachef

                I agree, treating the professionals that are in partnership with your husband in his cure is important. I do not care what one calls it.I call it "paying it forward". But cooking for others who are serving others. is to me, one of the great human kindnesses.

                This recipe is SO easy and loved by everyone my Mom has made them for. They "age" well, actually getting a bit better (if allowed) over times, som staleness is NOT a factor but a help.

                http://www.familycircle-digital.com/f...

              2. I'm so sorry to hear you're having a hard time, but I think It's wonderful that you turned to your kitchen for support. I lost my job three years ago and developed a gym habit which goes nicely with my cooking addiction. I lost 40 lbs in the year following and perfected my homemade pasta recipe as well as many others. I was unemployed for 14 months and it turned out to be life changing in the best way possible. I highly recommend making homemade pasta as it has always been intensely therapeutic for me. I hope your cloud also proves to have a silver lining.

                2 Replies
                1. re: AuntPlam

                  +1 for homemade pasta. There is something so satisfying about seeing those beautiful sheets of silky dough hanging all over your kitchen, waiting to be made into delicious pasta dishes.

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    pasta was my guess too (esp given the baking issue)

                2. That sounds rough, and I'm glad you have a healthy escape thru cookling. I tend to bake a lot when under stress (okay, who am I kidding? I bake a lot anyway!) But I bake time-consuming things like bread when I really need a break. I loved AuntPlam's pasta idea. It's lots of fun and very rewarding, and tastes way better than even the fresh stuff you get at the market. Savory vegetable and meat pies are also fun to make, and are very comforting to eat.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Isolda

                    Isolda, savory vegetable pies caught my attention as I am about to pop a baby out any day. I know comforting food will be so welcome in the crazy days ahead. Hopefully these can be made in handheld versions that'll be easy to eat with one hand. Can these be frozen cooked or uncooked? Would you care to share some recipes, please? Thank you.

                      1. re: Quine

                        Thanks so much for your wishes, Quine. Just getting back into circulation now.. :-)

                    1. re: Isolda

                      Thanx Isolda. Your suggestion of savory meat or veggie pies sounds wonderful. Is there some way to make them without having to make a pie crust???? Maybe Pillsbury? Got a recipe or two??

                      1. re: caiatransplant

                        You can totally cheat and use two frozen pie crusts. I do that sometimes. I don't use recipes for veggie pies because i just use leftover vegetables. Basically, I make a roux, then add chicken broth if it doesn't need to be vegetarian, or vegetable broth if it does, to make a gravy. Then I stir in the cooked veggies and seasonings. Depending on your crust size, you'll need about 3-4 cups of filling including the gravy. Good combos are cauliflower/broccoli with cheddar cheese; mushroom and onion with sage and thyme; carrot with tarragon. Just taste the filling when it's all mixed together, and make adjustments before putting in your crust. I usually prebake the bottom crust for 10 minutes or so to keep it from getting soggy, then add the filling, top with the top crust and bake.

                        For meat pies, I just chop up leftover pot roast, up the seasoning a little, and add about a cup of gravy made from the juice and turn that into a pie crust.

                        None of these are especially fancy--they're just basic home comfort food.

                    2. I understand the situation. Now's the time to start eating a Mediterranean diet to prevent the calories from jumping on you and never getting off you. Our small town library has a boat load of all kinds of cookbooks. Check your local library if need one...or look up recipes on the 'net. Also, there's a grain called Quinoa that is very nutritious that has myriads of possibilities as a side dish. Lot's of info on the internet.

                      I'm a devotee of jambalaya, and if you are too, make it without the andoulile or any other sausage. Just use chicken and mudbugs. Fake crab will also work, it's made with a fish known as pollock.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ChiliDude

                        Thanx ChiliDude. I love Jambalaya. I'll give it a shot. And to all of you who were so thoughtful in replying to my misery, thank you. I make really good homemade pasta (though I haven't thought about it in awhile). I have to hit the road tomorrow for another 3 weeks or so, but when I get home next, I'll try some of your suggestions (except [sniffle] the bread because I know better).

                        1. re: caiatransplant

                          Having spent more time, one year, in the hospital rather than out by the side of my husband, I learned the importance of cat naps. I'd imagine you might have learnt this already on the road, but conditioning myself to close my eyes and catch some rest for short periods of time was vital to one's strength. Keep positive and strong. As for the pie-crust, I would suggest trying to get over your intimidation. Many people on here rave about an easy and non-fail one using vodka! - I have yet to try it but I just googled it and am sending the link should you find the time for the challenge. And if you can make pasta than you can make anything!! I have never even attempted it! I am truly impressed with that!
                          One day at a time.
                          http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                      2. My "down in the dumps" recipes -
                        meatballs and tomato sauce
                        Beef stew
                        shortbread cookies (and I am a crappy baker too, so I find shortbread cookies endlessly adaptable, yet easy)
                        Minestrone Soup

                        Good luck and hope things turn around for you soon.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mickeygee

                          Hi mickeygee. Do you have a good recipe for shortbread cookies? I'm a pig when it comes to white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies from Flying J but don't have a clue as to how they're made. They're soft and rich and I love them.

                        2. CT - so sorry about what you're going through. I spent a lot of time in the last 3 years in the hospital and at dr's office with my mom, and none of it was fun but it was good to be there with her. but it does take its toll. you absolutely do, as mamachef wisely counsels, need to take care of yourself - give yourself the strength and fortitude to carry on! this place is a good one to get encouragement and inspiration. just ask - you'll need it, and by god, you'll get it in abundance!

                          have you ever tried a chicken mole? i made one once, and while i wasn't a huge fan of the outcome of the recipe i used, the step-by-step process of toasting and grinding all of the nuts and spices made for an involving afternoon.

                          Another thing i've made that has a lot of steps to it (but is by no means difficult) is chili. I made up my own recipe, cobbled from others, and it's looooooooooooong, and involves many "dumps". I have never even liked chili, but my office at the time decided to hold a chili cook-off and i won! it was pretty delicious, i will admit. just look for one of those prize-winning recipes on line that coaches you to add batches of ingredients at a time. the levels and depth of flavors will keep your spirits up and sustain you for your long stints on the road.

                          if you get to the point where you need help on how to feed a hubby who's not keen on eating because of treatments, we can help too. a lot of us have been there.

                          take care, report back, ask for help, and keep cooking!

                          1. Keep 'er between the lines, dear -- on and off the highway.

                            Think about a slow cooker and/or a pressure cooker, too -- both are great for getting good food on the table when you just don't have enough hours in the day to devote to it. You can usually find them at garage sales or the Goodwill. Bonus is that you can take really cheap ingredients (tough cuts of meat, beans, etc) and turn them into soul-nourishing good food.

                            (A trucker at the company where I used to work had found himself a 12V slow cooker for his rig...so he always fed himself on the road, too.)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I've heard of that too! If you've got an adapter in the rig, a rice cooker or slow cooker can keep you from having to rely on fast food! :)

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                You all are amazing! I feel as though I've been warmly hugged by everyone and I thank you. I'm currently stuck in Cheyanne, WY, waiting on a load to or near home (Iowa). I never thought of a slow cooker for my truck, but I've got a 2500 watt inverter in here, so I could probably use one without blowing up anything. I'm sooooo tired of eating out of my cooler!! Husband is feeling good and his appetite hasn't fallen off yet, so I'm encouraged. I'm keeping this short because I've already lost 2 messages to you all due to an extremely sensitive laptop keyboard with a mind of its own. Hope to be home soon to try some of your suggestions. I need soup, stews, a VACATION!! Thanx again.
                                CAIATRANSPLANT

                              2. The Sunday Suppers at Lucques squash soup is an involved (but not ridiculously involved) recipe that could occupy your time and mind. And it's delicious. Don't have time to hunt down the recipe, but it's been talked about a lot on this board. All best to you and your family.

                                1. I am so sorry to hear things have been rough for you. If it's any relief, I cook myself silly as well when things get tough and also when I'm bored. It's quite therapeutic you know but so is meditation (you outta try it, it's amazing). Speaking of nourishing recipes, have you tried Tajines? I have recipes that will knock your socks off, where I use preserved lemons (easy) and the whole meal is wholesome, and fun to make and it takes so long to cook. This way you can sit around and inhale the scent from the spices, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika etc while you, let's see ..... maybe meditate on pleasant things.....There is always a light at the end of the tunnel :) Good luck:)