Roasted Smashed Potatoes

 Do you all ever get in a dinner rut?  I do!  It seems like we eat the same thing over and over.  I try to look for new things to make, and when I do sometimes the family loves it:  Potato soup, and sometimes they don’t: yellow tomato pasta. To be honest I ended up tossing part of the pasta after everyone refused to eat it for leftovers.
So I was really excited when I saw this recipe on my friend Pam’s Facebook wall.  I saw it during one of those times I was browsing Facebook, aka “the time sucking website”, and this popped up!  It looked intriguing, and I decided to give it a try.  I wasn’t sure when I would make them, but the other day when Karol suggested she make her famous ribs for dinner, I thought, this would be a perfect side dish!
To be honest I adore potatoes.  Nothing soothes my soul quite like mashed potatoes, with or without gravy.  However, potatoes really aren’t very good for me, so I limit my intake of them.  So when I find a recipe that uses just three ingredients and I can soothe my soul without the added calories of butter and milk, I am in!  Now just to be perfectly honest, I did make some of these “loaded” and added shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, crumbled bacon and scallions, but they are just as good plain!

ROASTED SMASHED POTATOES

8-10 small red bliss potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Adjust the oven racks to the top position.

Boil the potatoes in water for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Some recipes tell you to smash them with a potato peeler, or between two kitchen towels.  I used the bottom of a drinking glass.  Worked great!!

Place the smashed potatoes on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes on the top rack for about 20-30 minutes, turning them over gently with a spatula 1/2 way through the cooking time, so about 10-15 minutes.

Top with cheese, or any baked potato item you love.  Or just eat them plain.  My favorite part were the crunchy bits, and my kids devoured them!  They are even good reheated, although not so crunchy.

smashed and ready to go in the oven

smashed and ready to go in the oven

 

Out of the oven.  Cheese on some, sour cream on two.

Out of the oven. Cheese on some, sour cream on two.

 

ready to go in my mouth!!!

ready to go in my mouth!!!

smashedpotato3

Just cheese.

Just cheese.

 

Super easy and delicious side dish that can be made in about 45 minutes, but require very little time in the way of “making” them.  Most of the time is spent boiling and baking, so you can get other things done at the same time!

ENJOY!!

Perimenopause and it’s symptoms can suck it!!

I have written about Perimenopause before.  Looking back over my posts I have written about it twice.  Once in October 2012, and again n October 2013.  Not sure whey October seems to be the month to write about it, other than all this crap started the week of my birthday the year I turned 46, so maybe my birthday month (October) triggers something.  Not sure.  But I suppose if that is true than writing about it today makes me a month early.  And for those of you who may be squeamish I will warn you in advance that this article is filled with details about mine and other women’s bodily functions, so if it is TMI, I apologize in advance.

Perimenopause is a bitch.  Truly.  For any woman dealing with it, and that can be ANY woman in the mid to late 30′s until actual Menopause sets in, the time (which is often years) is full of unpleasant, and even painful or embarrassing situations.

I told someone recently that every month that I get my cycle I rejoice because that means I still have enough female hormones to induce a menstrual cycle.  However, while doing research about perimenopause what I have found is that I was dead wrong.  In fact some scientists believe that  perimenopausal women have an increase in Estrogen and a decrease in Progesterone, which is what causes us to have increased symptoms of bloating, cramping and breast tenderness. These scientists also believe that FSH is a major culprit in causing a change to our cycles from a regular 15 days to 10 days plus or minus 4 days.

GREAT!  So instead of being able to plan (somewhat) and count the days between cycles now we have a shortened cycle and can be on either side of our “due date” by 4 days.  Are you kidding me?

These symptoms are also noted to happen to perimenopausal women:

New heavy and/or longer menstrual flow (yep)

• Shorter menstrual cycle lengths (≤ 25 days) ( so now we have to carry feminine hygiene products ALL the time because we NEVER know when we might start bleeding)

• New sore, swollen, and/or lumpy breasts (This has definitely happened to me to the point where it hurts to even work out)

• New or increased menstrual cramps (I know this is TMI, but now I start cramping days before I start my cycle…..YAY)

• New mid-sleep wakening (this has not happened to me, but I do wake up in the middle of the night sweating….)

• Onset of night sweats, especially around flow (see above comment.  This can even happen in wintertime)

• New or markedly increased migraine headaches ( This has not happened to me, but I do have friends who have noted an increase in their migraines as they have entered their 40′s)

• New or increased premenstrual mood swings (Ummm, I have always been a bit moody. However, since I turned 46 I definitely cry more often and want to cut people more frequently…. not sure if that is perimenopause or just lack of tolerance for stupid people. )

• Notable weight gain without changes in exercise or food intake (That has been my ENTIRE life, so nothing new there)

Image from : www.rottenecards.com

Image from : www.rottenecards.com

I mean honestly, is this fair in any sense of the word?  We have to deal with these symptoms, and more I wager. For my own experience I have the lovely experience of having cramps for days before I even have a cycle and wish I would just start already so I can stop having the cramps and bloating.  Also, I never know exactly when I am going to have a cycle.  I will be “regular” (meaning a cycle every 28 days) for three or four months, then I will have two cycles in one month, then I will go back to “regular”.

I never know how long my bleeding will last.  Some months it is 4 days, some months it is 7 days, some months it is 10 days. And according to these scientists and doctors this shift from pre-menstrual (meaning normal 28 day cycle every month). And my gosh, (super TMI) the bleeding can be so heavy at times!  Seriously, the flow can be so heavy you think you are bleeding out.  And then, you realize nope, it is just my stupid perimenopause.  (well that is what I think anyway, not sure what other women my age call it)

I know my peers are experiencing these symptoms and others.  I know because we sometimes talk about it.  I don’t know why it is not a more open discussion.  Why don’t we talk about these things more?  I mean seriously come on, these symptoms affect EVERY woman at some point in her life. Even if you have a surgical removal of organs you will have a “surgical” menopause.  Karol had a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer and removal of one ovary and she still has symptoms.  One of my BFF’s only has one ovary and she has symptoms.  Since millions of women deal with this why don’t we talk about it more?  Why isn’t there more research to find treatments or ways to make these symptoms less intrusive for women?

I know part of the answer is because women’s medical issues are not as important to the medical community and researchers as medical issues affecting men. Part of the answer is because it is “impolite” to discuss these things.  It is not “nice”.  Really, that pisses me off because I can see commercials on tv for medications to help men with their erections (or lack of erection to be more correct), and that is mainstream conversation about men’s health issues as they age.  Why can’t women’s health issues about aging be a mainstream conversation?

I for one will do what I can to enlighten women and talk about these issues.  Hopefully in my very small part and my very small sphere of influence I can open a conversation that women will participate in with each other, with their health care providers, and with society as a whole so this topic becomes less taboo and more “normal”.

Women who are dealing with this I would love to hear what you are going through and whether this list is all you are dealing with or if we need to add to it.

What blogging means to me

I started blogging in 2008. My first post was on a Blog called The Glass Half Full, and my first post was on September 27, 2008.  That was 6 years ago!  When I look back at those first posts, they are interesting.  Actually, they aren’t.  They are pretty boring.  I was just writing to write, and I didn’t know anything about monetizing, or an audience, or “how” to write.  I just wrote.  I think I enjoyed it.  I never really got too personal, and I didn’t many many years ago.  Most of my blogs were very short, only a couple of paragraphs, and they were quite sporadic.  I didn’t write very often at all.

Then I met a woman at the church I belonged to and she wanted to write together, so we collaborated.  She had been blogging for awhile also, and had read books on blogging and websites on blogging, and despite whatever happened that was not positive I will say that she definitely taught me a lot about the mechanics of blogging. It was her idea to apply to BlogHer.  She maintained the blogsite with backgrounds, and themes.  We both paid for the domain name and any the expense.  We had weekly “meetings” to plan and collaborate and share ideas.  We actually worked very well together when it came to business.  In the end it was a personal issue that drive us apart, and to be honest it was me who left her.  I needed to walk away and that is a story that I will never tell because it involves confidential conversations I had and situations I was in while I was an employee at a church.  However, she did teach me a lot so when I went back out on my own and created this bog I had much more knowledge about what to do.  So for what it is worth, thank you for that Susan.

When I started this blog, I did populate it at the beginning with blog posts I had written at the other site because I was emotionally drained.  I had no will to write, and just needed some time to heal.  But that has changed over the last two years I have been blogging on my own. My first blog post here On Coffee, Clutter and Chaos was on October 17, 2012.  Since then I have blogged 151 times.  I wrote 48 times in 2012 between Oct 17 and Dec 31.  I wrote 63 times in 2013.  Of those a couple were featured, a couple were syndicated and I was enjoying writing.  Then something happened.

I didn’t write between 3 December 2013 and 31 Jan 2014.  When I did write again I was really wondering if I should continue or not.  My mother had sharply criticized my writing saying what I wrote was “too personal” and “why did I have to write so much” about LGBT stuff? She thought I was being dishonest because I never talked about the father of my kids and how he and I were married for a long time, that I only seemed to focus on my life now with Karol.  I must say that really deflated me.  But when I out that post on Facebook I received a lot of positive comments, so I decided to continue.

However, apparently I was not feeling completely convinced, because I only wrote three more times between 31 Jan and 1 June.  Then something happened.  I was leaving work and driving home and just happened to put on my local National Public Radio station, WHRO, and a man was talking about a book he had written.  He was a comic and just happened to be blogging.  He really wanted to write a book, but also wanted to be paid, so he decided to just write every day for 100 days to see what happened.

During the 100 days of blogging, someone read his work and offered to publish a book if he wrote it. Now I have to apologize, even after researching it, I cannot find the name of the author or the book.  But I decided that I would try it.  I would write for 100 days and see if it took me anywhere or I had any monetary success, or if I even still wanted to write after I was finished.

Well, life happens, and I was not able to write every day, but I did find out something interesting.  I found out what blogging means to me. I found that I began to really enjoy writing.  I had ideas all the time.  I even out a recorder on the “front page” of my phone so I could just hit a button and record ideas when they came to me.  For some reason I think about a lot of topics while I am driving…..  I put a white board on the wall next to my desk so I could write down ides I got while I was balancing my checkbook or doodling around on Facebook.

But more important I found that I started NEEDING to write.  That it became soothing and cathartic.  That if I was not able to write I became cranky and felt compelled to get to my computer so I could write.

This week was no exception.  My bff the Newyorican needed my help this week, and since she is my sister of course I went to her aid.  But in doing so I missed my “writing time” which is in the morning as I sip my coffee.  This seems to be the best time for me to write because my mind is fresh, and the boys are sleeping or at school, and the house is quiet.  It is before classes, or homework, or other distractions.  I put on Pandora, and I write. I noticed I was cranky because I missed writing.  Hmmm, I didn’t expect that.

So what I have found is that to me blogging and writing have become a release.  a way to get things out that are swirling around in my head.  To ask questions and put things out there that are personal, and sensitive, and possibly divisive.  That may upset people, or cause some folks to get mad at me.  Or possibly cause someone to think, or learn something new.  I have written about my concerns about racial issues, about lesbian bed death, about my kids, and about my partner.  I love to write and have found something that feeds me emotionally mentally and spiritually.

I am a writer.

Jessica Hinton really says what I feel in my heart.  Thank you Jessica for these words!

Photo credit: http://www.jessicafhinton.com/

Photo credit: http://www.jessicafhinton.com/