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Archive for May, 2013

Hi All,

How are you doing?  We are doing pretty well here.  Apologies for the lack of posting on the blog but really haven’t had much to report to you…

On Mother’s Day we had my Mom and Dad over for a nice lunch.  I had made The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti with a salad, and I “attempted” to make Simply Recipe’s Walnut Mocha Torte.  I thought it looked so delicious in the photo and not too difficult to make.

Ah-hem…

Let’s just say I’m better at cooking than I am at baking…

My last baking “incident” was attempting to make We Are Not Martha’s Blood Orange Tart.

No, I’m not addicted to food blogs…  Why do you ask?

Anyways, the Blood Orange tart looked beautiful on their blog (the pictures were gorgeous!) and didn’t look difficult at all to make…  Sues makes everything look easy…  I even “attempted” to make the crust from scratch…

However, when we sat down to eat the tart, we needed a table saw to cut through it.

My Mom very innocently asked me if I had made the crust myself from scratch, and I said “why yes, I did – thank you for noticing!!” – as we were literally sawing away at the crust with our knives!!  We laughed so hard after that…

The custard part of the tart was very delicious.  However, the color of my tart versus what was pictured on their blog was very very different…  Hers was a gorgeous shade of pink.  Mine was more of a muddy gray color…  Next time I might add some food coloring to jazz it up a bit…

I think I know what went wrong with the crust.  I made it

Just kidding (slightly).

I want to try it again but next time I will take my time working the butter into the flour.  Or is it the flour into the butter?  Does it matter?  Someone help me…

So back to the Walnut Mocha Torte…

I got up early on Mother’s Day, and I completed each step to make this tart as meticulously as I possibly could.

This was for Mom after all!!

I wanted it to be special.  However, the first issue was I realized I had inadvertently added one cup of sugar instead of the specified three-quarter cup because instead of grabbing the quarter-sized measuring cup, I had grabbed the third of a cup sized measuring cup.

Super

OK – so it will be a little bit sweeter.  No problem, I thought.  Moving on…

I finished the batter, filled two cake pans and popped them into the oven.  It said to cook for 20-30 minutes, and typically I will cook for the least amount required because you can always add more time, right?

Right?

Twenty minutes later this sucker was DONE.  When I opened the oven door, I gasped because it had pulled away from the sides of the pans and looked very very dry…  Actually, when I touched one of them, it made a “crunchy sound…”

Eeeek…

Checked the oven temperature and it was the right temperature, but think I will pick up an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is accurate inside the oven…

At this point, I start thinking that I really should have picked up that back-up dessert from the grocery store…

Moving on again…  I start on the frosting…

Take heavy whipping cream and beat until if you beat anymore it will turn into butter.  ?????

Okey dokey…

I took heavy cream (it didn’t say heavy “whipping” cream – does that make a difference?) and beat it until guess what – it became butter…  I then added the other ingredients which consisted of some sugar, melted chocolate chips and some strong coffee that was prepared in advance and long story short it just literally fell apart in the bowl…  Didn’t thicken at all.  I even tried to add more corn starch but it was a soupy mess.  I had over whipped the cream but seriously how do you know when to stop before it becomes butter??  I will also buy heavy whipping cream next time just to see if there is a difference.

I was so angry and was ready to throw the entire cake and frosting away and run to the grocery store when Jim asked what I was planning on doing with the cake.  I said why don’t we just try it and at least see how it tastes.  If it’s OK, maybe I’ll just pick up some frosting from the grocery store.  He was happy I said that (and surprised because he knew how mad I was) but he cut a sliver from the cake and tried it.  Then he cut a piece exactly opposite from his first cut (basically cutting one layer in half) to let me try it.  Then he pushed the two halves together…

A little frosting and no one will know the difference!!

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!

So off I run to the grocery store thinking I would buy one of those new Cool Whip frostings (my Hubby’s idea) that they have been advertising, but unfortunately

(or should I say of course!!)

they weren’t out yet at the time…  I instead found the new Dunkin Hines Frosting Creations where you buy a canister of frosting and an individual flavoring packet.  I was thrilled to find a Mocha flavored one…  PERFECT!

It tasted good (very sweet!) but it worked…

At this point the cakes were out of their pans, on cooling racks

and

had

fallen…

I mean I’ve heard of cakes falling before, but had never seen a cake fall to this extent…  I flipped a cake layer over and placed it on top of the other cake layer thinking it would look better but didn’t make any freaking difference whatsoever!

No exaggeration – the center of the two cakes when it was together was about a half-inch thick.

I wish I had some fruit at the time that I could have mounded in the center of the cake!  I made the best of it.  Frosted it and dubbed it

Crater Cake…

When it was time for dessert, I brought it out to Mom, and we all had a good laugh at the expense of my (lack of) baking skills, but it did really taste delicious.  So delicious that I will try it again.

I now know that too much sugar can cause a cake to fall, and I definitely had added too much sugar and the house may have been too muggy – does that cause a cake to fall?  I’ll have to Google that one…

Jim Update:

Jim and I walked 1.4 miles a few weeks ago.  He did great, and I was really proud that he pushed himself.  We did stop a few times so he could rest and catch his breath so it took approximately an hour.

Now Jim has not been feeling that well over the past couple of weeks, and his weight has increased which is a sign of too much fluid (volume).  Also, when he’s sleeping at night his breathing is very raspy.  You could even tell from how he was talking that he was very short of breath.  For some reason his breathing capacity has diminished in the past few weeks.  That was a change that really disturbed me.

Something is wrong…

He finally felt bad enough to call the clinic a few days ago, and they increased his diuretics but this time it was like the diuretics stopped working.  They added another, more potent diuretic, and asked him to come in this morning for an Echocardiogram (echo), and they were going to adjust his LVAD settings to see if that would improve his symptoms.

I was in the room while they did the echo and “played” with the settings of his LVAD.  There were three doctors, two radiologists plus me and one of the LVAD Clinic Coordinators, Darlene.  Darlene came over to me and said I don’t think there were this many people in the room when they did his surgery.

LOL – she is too funny.

I did want to take a photo for the blog – it was comforting watching all five of them really focusing on Jim…  I chickened out though and didn’t take the picture but vowed next time – I will take one…

I think I said that with the last photo op I chickened out on… 🙂

They increased the RPMs of his LVAD pump and watched the echo to see the affect.  When they were done, they asked Jim to stand up and immediately the LVAD monitor went flat line.  That gives doctors a lot of information…

NOTE:  Not flat line like we see on TV…

When you sit for a period of time and then stand up and sometimes get lightheaded, that’s because for a few seconds, blood levels have dropped.  This is normal and can happen with everyone…

With LVADers, there is a “suction” that happens because not enough blood is being sent to the heart but the pump is still working.  They immediately told Jim to sit back down, and they actually ended up lowering his LVAD pump RPMs to less than what it was when he walked in the place.

They admitted that they had expected to see the right side of his heart not working properly but thankfully it actually showed improvement, and had shrunk from his echo of a year ago.

A good thing…

They were able to rule out anything bad at this point but wanted some blood work done and depending on how the blood work comes out, they are thinking of adding that potent diuretic to his pill regimen on a once-a-week basis to see if that helps.

If he doesn’t improve, they are going to have to “go in” (probably do a cardiac catheterization), and see if they can find out what’s going on.  Ugh!!

I will say that since Jim took that potent diuretic, his breathing last night was much improved – quieter.  But he still gets breathless when having a conversation.  I don’t like that…

This is the life of an LVADer.  Always trying to maintain a very delicate balance and trying to stay on top of any changes that could be signals of something going wrong.

That’s it for now.  What are your plans for the long weekend?  Even though the weather isn’t supposed to cooperate, it can still be FUN :)!!

Take care and LOTS OF LOVE to you guys!!

Cheryl

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