cooking non-vegan





One of the challenges of living up here and caring for my father-in-law is the issue of cooking.  I cannot expect him to eat a vegan diet after being a hard-core meat eater for 85 years.  When we first got here we saw he was relying on box and frozen dinners, which are convenient but not super healthy.  So my goal was to infuse his diet with tons of fresh produce and as many vitamins I could shove into each meal.


His favorite meals are casserole type and anything with gravy on it. So I made my favorite mushroom gravy recipe using fresh roasted mushrooms and I added in a little red wine in place of some of the vegetable broth. My favorite culinary instructor always told me the sign of a good gravy is one you could eat as a soup.



For his meal I sauteed some thinly sliced pork chops, seasoned them with salt and pepper and tiny bit of garlic powder.  When they were almost finished I poured some gravy in and simmered them for a minute or two and then served them over mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli.  He loved it...but the next morning told me it wasn't his favorite.  Ok.





About once a week we make a trek down to the library to stock up on books for the week.  I picked up this book and loved it.  They have great taste and I love anything with the word ordinary in it.





I adore this vintage apron one of the authors is wearing and I want it.  I love this whole outfit.





It snowed a few days ago and out of sheer boredom cut up a Trader Joe's shopping bag and covered an old shoe box and decoupaged this hunter character onto the top of it.  In my defense, the power was out.  x

50 comments

  1. The sign of a great photographer (and cook) even your meat dishes look tasty!
    Love the decoupage box. xxx

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  2. Sounds like you are having a lot of fun! I love hearing about all the things you're doing...I never would have guessed you'd be up there decoupaging! You're such a kind and loving person Janet...the best one he could have around, I'm sure. ♥

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  3. What a thoughtful daughter-in-law; I would love to eat that dinner you prepared for your father-in-law as I'm weary of cooking. I'm moving to Utah next year after traipsing around the world for the past 46 years. It will be my 18th move and the first one where I feel a great deal of trepidation. I'm focusing on the positive but know it will be an adjustment. I love that you decoupaged a shoe box with a TJ bag....wonderful.

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  4. Power outages! My least favorite First World Problem. My last one lasted three hours (I know! Three. whole. hours.) and I couldn't (a) get the car out of the garage (electric door opener, ya know), (b) work in the garden (no electricity = no well pump = no water), (c) cook (no gas, all electric), (d) clean the house (no water, no vacuum).

    Thank goodness my Kindle was fully charged, or I would have had to resort to some decoupage myself. ;-}

    It's probably time to go to the library and check out those Little House books. How did they do it?

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  5. Hello mountain girl!
    I love that title "A life less ordinary" it so me, and so deeply received. When I was featured in Artful Blogger Magazine, I used the term as to who I am as " A gatherer of words" words really describe so much in a picture and how we receive it emotionally. I love seeing something that inspires me, like your home going from Red which was wonderful to Black bean that speaks to me even more, it In itself spits out words that inspire and I gather from it.

    I think that's why I am drawn to your style, and fashion sense.... Love that apron as well and is a paint one that I have had for years when I am creating. The whole rolled up jeans, white T- and her apron I so realate to as well.
    I am so sure that many words have gathered in your head while being so isolated I the peace and beauty you are experiancing. I have wanted to get this book for so long, and yet have seen what pictures are in it that may inspire a buy for me.

    Your meal looks comforting and less ordinary !

    See you soon.

    You have a way with style that matches none other.

    And as for the bag I have a market bag trader Joes with farm prints saved it because I want to decoupage with it as well.
    We think so much alike, funny how that happens in blog world.

    Beauty and grace to the days ahead for you.

    Xoxxo

    Dore

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  6. Janet,
    What a lovely and wonderful thing to do for your father in law....taking good care of someone and making things so beautiful all at the same time. You're an amazing person! I have to check out that book!
    xo
    annie

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  7. You are good to cook him meat!!! I love cooking vegetarian stuff for my friends who are meat adverse.

    Enjoy Utah xxx

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  8. Oh man, I hear some emotion thru your words, dear Janet. This is when patience can get tested. I'm sure it is not fun for you to have to be handling a dead animal and cooking it. You have to develop a hard shell sometimes with the older generation; they can speak their mind, they don't mean to hurt you but they're prickly as they begin to see some of their well-crafted life beginning to fall down around them. I'm no expert on the subject; I only speak from a personal experience. My husband and I bent over backwards for my mom and she showed very little gratitude (and did major complaining) but I think a lot of it was because she wanted to 'do' for herself, so having to have somebody else do what she used to do, and then having to thank them all the time, was too much for her; it made her feel inadequate somehow, bless her. A lot of it is just different personalities, though, and what floats to the surface in stressful times. My dad never complained about anything when he was sick and dying; he was so polite to the nurses, even when he was in great pain, and he expressed thanks for all things, frequently. He was a man with a great capacity for love.

    Your box is fun. I have that book!

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    1. I was so happy to read this, Vicki. Having you say what you did about understanding why your mother showed little gratitude makes perfect sense to me now after losing my mom several years ago. I've always felt like I gave it my all when she apparently resented many of my gestures and I was so exhausted and never seemed to say the right thing. I was on pins and needles for fear I might hurt her with my angry words and I did lose it a couple of times. She had always been a very independent woman and obviously was devastated at having to be helped. My sister was the "perfect one" when I actually did more which made it even more hurtful. Thanks so much for your insight. You are a very kind and forgiving woman! It's taken me so long to forgive and try and forget those last few months of her life and you've helped with immensely with your honesty....Thanks!

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    2. Your words are so nice...but I am NO saint! I 'lost it' with my mom more than once and would feel very guilty afterward because I'd been told somewhere along the way that arguing with or yelling at an elderly person is a form of elder abuse, but then I'd think, 'Hey, what about adult-child abuse!'

      With my mom, I do think a lot of her irritability was rooted in fear. I've wondered about something, and that's about her having drifted from her religion and church because I think, in her specific case (and this is obviously personal), if perhaps she'd had renewed faith to rely upon it would have been a great source of strength for her as it had been in her earlier life and might have helped her trust us and anybody else who were just there to try to make her life as smooth and uncomplicated as possible. She needed a lot of control in her life and when you get dependent and you can't control it, it's got to be the scariest thing. She'd become like some scrappy little kid, dukes up, ready to fight and defend herself when there was no reason for it. It was like she had to remain 'on guard' when I wish she could have had an inner serenity.

      I'd take all of this personally, of course...like I must be the world's worst daughter-caregiver. But I'll never figure it all out. I used to think, when caregiving was choppy water and I just couldn't do anything to please or satisfy her, 'hey, Mom, could you throw me a bone?' (everybody needs a pat on the back once in awhile but I felt like I'd never worked so hard for another person, only to feel her never-ending disappointment in me...and I hadn't even felt like that when I was a kid!). Mom and I had been the best of friends but it changed; sometimes it's just the way life goes. I had a compassionate social worker who was 'high up' in the caregiving leg of a visiting nurses association we used for Mom, and she told me before I ever uttered any words about anything I was going through, "Don't let these last years of your mother destroy what you had before, when she was younger and fine, and you were young and fine. Remember her for who she was, not for who she is now." And mostly what she was now, was just plain unhappy. She was old and sick; she missed Dad, and I couldn't fix it. I couldn't be him.

      One thing that has helped me is that I have a journal I write in which is solely The Book of Mom. I try to record all my happy memories of my mother from the earliest times of our life I can remember; I keep it close by so that when I think of something, I can write it right down. It could be some crazy time we had on a family vacation, or when she'd be sitting in the audience at a school function, perhaps teaching me to bake my first batch of cookies; watching her bathe the dog, showing me how to iron a shirt; sewing clothes for my dolls. So many memories...lots and lots of beautiful, healing and comforting memories! I loved my mom and I loved my dad; I had a really good childhood, they took good care of me which is why I wanted to take good care of them. I succeeded in some ways; failed miserably in others. I haven't reached my peace with it yet, but I'm trying.

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    3. Vicki, I was so moved by your reply and immediately wrote a response only to click the wrong key and lose it. Kinda the story of my computer life!....I just wanted you to know how very much I appreciate your honesty and sharing. I so relate to you because we went through such similar caregiving experiences. I believe that my Mom's illness was out of her control and she was accustomed to being the person in control of just about everything. Losing my Dad a few years earlier left her devastated and so lonely. My husband told me that she treated me like a disobedient teenager because she had no one else on whom to take out her frustration and I'm certain she feared cancer and dying. She knew I would always be there but it was so difficult and I still feel the guilt. I've talked with my sister and she understood my frustration and we're very close today. She said she hopes we can remember to tell our kids how much we appreciate their help and how much we love them if we're in the same situation. She also reminds me of the good times when Mom was younger and I think your Book of Mom is an excellent way to remember how lucky we were to have such great childhoods with parents who took good care of us. I do hope you and I find peace someday. I am so grateful to you for sharing with me. Thank you so very, very much!

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  9. It can be challenging cooking for the elderly. They have very fixed ideas about what they like. That mushroom gravy looks delicious. I like the decoupaged box...how clever you are! Good luck with the new meal menus, I'm sure he appreciates your effort even if there are a few misses in his eyes.
    xo,
    Karen

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  10. Isn't it a privilege caring for our aging parents and in-laws? I'm doing the same here and I remind myself daily of the sacrifices they made in order to raise me and my husband. I'm filled with gratitude and sense you are as well. On another note, have you seen the film "Nebraska"? Such a sweet movie dealing somewhat with this theme using comedy and love. Thanks for a thoughtful, interesting post.

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  11. You are wonderful to cook meat for your FIL...especially considering you are a devout vegan.
    I will look for that book in our library too so thank you for the suggestion.
    I don't feel boredom very often but when it hits, it spurs me on to create to alleviate the unwanted feeling...
    it's hot here in Victoria and i am going out to see if I can buy a fan...no snow in sight!
    Hugs,
    Leslie

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  12. Your compassion is comforting. Caregiving is something tremendously overlooked today, it seems to me. I am glad you are taking time to talk about it here. And, as always your style is so very good.

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    1. The subject of caregiving and how it means different things to different people. I have a childhood friend who has been a part of my life for 53 years. His mother, well into her 90s, is still my neighbor. My friend comes maybe 4 times a year to visit her from about 4 hours away. She, with great dignity/courage, fends for herself most of the time, calling in her own help for house cleaning, yard work, etc. although things are getting more difficult for her. When my friend comes to visit for at most two days, he wants to visit other friends and leaves little time for 'Mom.' She has a small list of to-do's for him while he's there, and he resents it. I've told him he doesn't know how lucky he's got it, how his mom lives independently and asks so little of him. He calls this 'caregiving' for his mother. I call it a big joke. But, at least he comes. I contrast this with other people I know of, who are committed 24/7 to caring for their loved ones at great personal expense of time and money or their own health, be it a challenged child, a sick spouse or an elderly parent. There are heroes everywhere who go unsung. Truly good souls, through and through. Purest love and devotion. I wish I could say that for myself. I would say I was a reluctant caregiver and felt like I didn't know what I was doing half the time; in 'way over my head. It can get really overwhelming.

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    2. you are right vicki. caring for my mom was pretty hard. we didn't have the best relationship and all her caregiving fell on me which at times i resented. in the end though, i was so grateful to do it. our relationship was repaired in ways it never would have if i'd been distant. it is overwhelming though when you are in it. x

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    3. Janet,
      My situation now is like you had with your mother. My only sister(and sibling) lives in another state and has a whole set of health and family problems. She is not able to help out with my mother's illness. I will welcome any advice from anyone because it does get overwhelming at times. She is supposed to come home from rehab this week and my husband and I will be staying back at her house with her. She has a special heart/a-fib/kidney diet - no salt/minimal sugars - so every meal has to be prepared from scratch(no restaurant food). I would love to hear your story about what you went through with your own mother. I would love to hear stories from other folks, too. Hope this reply makes sense!

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    4. Janet, The last comment reply about "like your mother" was from Debra from SENC - forgot to sign it!

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    5. my advice to you debra would be to hang in there. what is the alternative? in the beginning it was much harder bc i had to adjust my whole life to fit my mom in. but after awhile it became just part of my day and it was easier. my mom had alzheimers for 12 years so it was a long battle. BUT the good part was that even though my mom lost the ability to speak and really had no idea where she even was...i could always (until the vv end) see a sparkle in her eyes when i walked in the room. one day in particular i was playing ball with some of the other patients and i could see in her eyes that she was so proud of me. it turned out to be a really healing experience for me. x

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    6. I am sorry for your lose. That is so sad and was such a long period of time. For you, there has to be many stars in your crown (if there is such a thing) for all the goodness that you have done - then and now. Some good news from my end! Today, my mother is starting to improve both physically and mentally. She seems so happy about her progress and I am too.

      Sincerely,
      Debra from SENC

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  13. Thanks for including your gravy recipe. I've been looking for some new inspiration for my vegan cooking. I would love to hear more thoughts (and recipes!) on being vegan. It is difficult when traveling, but even more difficult when staying with family and friends. I just got back from caring for my dad who had bypass surgery. And I had to explain over and over to his wife that I didn't mean to offend her, but I won't eat meat. And she's a country cook and puts bacon in everything. Even her vegetables.

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    1. oh gosh michelle, i so relate. we stopped in a gourmet donut shop here and they have a bacon and maple donut!

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  14. i own that book, refer to it often, and am continually delighted by its contents. :)
    as to care giving, you're heaping precious blessings on your father - and really .. you as well. there's a reciprocal action in caring from the heart :: it blesses both. my father cared for his sweet wife (my step mother) for 14 years before needing to admit her to a skilled nursing facility. alzheimers. the 4 years she lived in the facility (which was wonderful, clean, and professional) my father brought her breakfast, readied her for the day including brushing her teeth and combing her hair, took her for walks, watched tv together, sang together, fed her lunch, settled her down for a nap, left for home about 2pm and did chores and made dinner - which he brought back to his sweetie at 5pm, fed her and more of the above, then readied her for bed, leaving at 7pm for home again. for four years. that... THAT... is commitment. love. long suffering tenderness. so blessed by this example.

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    1. Sherry, this chokes me up, so blessed you are for having such a caregiving father....
      I had to hold back the tears reading your comment.

      Love that you have the book, I will break down and het it.

      Xx
      Blessings

      Xox
      Dore

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    2. YOU will LOVE the book, Dore. seriously. :)

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    3. oh sherry that is such a testament to his love. what a story. my mom had alzheimers for 12 years and all i can say is bravo to him. it is such a hard disease to deal with and he was so devoted! thank you for sharing. x

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  15. Love your BOX!
    Your potatoes and mushrooms looks DELICIOUS!
    HANG in there................XX

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  16. Haha "not my favorite"! you're doing a good thing and I hope he's not making it too hard. It's a tremendous feeling to be able to really help a loved one by improving their day to day life. I'm glad you're finding time to get out and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and recharge.

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  17. After my husband died unexpectedly 3 yrs. ago my mantra has become to love & appreciate "the gift of an ordinary day". I found myself longing for those ordinary days that made up our 48 yrs. of life together. It wasn't the big events of life that I missed.....just the ordinary daily routines that reflected love, friendship, kindness & comfort. These things are the true nuggets of gold that make a life worth living.

    I, too, love the jeans, t-shirt, work apron & tennis shoes outfit. It looks similar to what I wear most days, but somehow mine just looks messy...not so stylish !!

    You & your husband are doing a good thing for your father-in-law, Janet.....I believe you will never regret it.

    Anita ~ the cabin on the creek

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    1. thank you for sharing anita. i do believe it is the ordinary things you miss. in my life it is never the big things that happen that thrill me....it's always the average, ordinary and mediocre things that always always bring smiles to me. i think that aspect of life is misunderstood often by people reading here. sometimes they get angry at me when i say my blog is mediocre but to me that's just what it is and i love that. i know you know what i mean. xo

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    2. I do know what you mean Janet. But I might be inclined to change the word "mediocre" to "simple".....which is a good thing !! But no matter how it is described, I love it & so do many others. ~ Anita

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  18. Janet,

    Hope you can get home in time to experience the birth of your grandchild. That meal looks yummy! It makes me wish I was your FIL, just so I could get a meal cooked for me like that!

    We are in something kind of similar - For the last two months, my mothers health has been declining. She's been in and out of the hospital three times. She is in rehab taking therapy, so she can get strong enough to go back home. She fell on her walker in the bathroom last week and hit her head on the toilet paper holder. I am just so thankful she is still alive. Luckily, we live very close by.

    On another note: Have you seen the new series on Netflix called "Grace and Frankie"? It stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. It is hilarious. Remember, "One Ringy Dingy! Two Ringy Dingy! from Laugh-In? If you need some cheering up, this will do it - at least most of the eps. (a few are tear jerkers).

    Sincerely,
    Debra from SENC

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    1. thank you for sharing debra. that show is on my netfilx list and i will get to it asap. what a wonderful thing you are doing too! i so wish my fil did live closer to our home but it is what it is and it will all work out...i have faith. x

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  19. How have I missed your blog! Love anything with fresh mushrooms of any sort!! I came here on Kelley's referall. I can't wait to go back and read all of your old posts when I am laid up after surgery! I am putting you on my sidebar!!

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  20. Well, Janet dear, what a brilliant daughter-in-law you are. Dealing with elderly parents is a whole new learning curve as I discovered when both my parents moved into their '90's. Congratulations to you on managing with style, skill and grace!
    (And I LOVE your black house!)

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  21. I think Vicki's words are so wise, Janet. I wish I'd heard them when caring for my mother. Don't be too concerned with offering nutritious foods. He's 85 and eating what he likes (within reason) will make him happy. Offer the good stuff, but don't be ashamed to heat up a frozen dinner for him. My mother sustained the last three years of her life on Trader Joe's Triple ginger cookies and soymilk!

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    1. oh he's sick to death of anything out of a box or a can. he's loving the fresh foods...but doesn't mind sharing his comments with me. :)

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  22. Hi Janet!I would really love to know what you think about kindle.Do you prefer books in the traditional form?Do you think kindle helps simplifying?

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    1. i don't know anything about kindles bc i don't own one. i do love just picking up a book and reading but up here a trip to the library is a big deal so i may get one. i can see where it would be so much simpler. x

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  23. Caregiving is really a learn as you go type thing. I am caring for my Mom and sometimes she says such hurtful things...I used to get upset or mad or even cry. Now I just smile and power on. I know this is the right thing I'm doing. At least that's what my heart tells me:) I just picked up the book at the library Friday! I was so excited to get home with a cup of coffee and enjoy that book for a few hours!! Didn't happen...locked the keys in the car and my phone and purse!!! Yikes! Maybe I need the caregiver!😳 Power on Janet! -Betsy

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    1. i agree betsy. my FIL has no idea sometimes how his comments hurt but i know he really doesn't mean them. at least i hope not! he just lives in his own world and we are trying to fit in to help him. i know he really appreciates it. sorry to hear about you being locked out of your car....how frustrating. but that book is so pretty right?! x

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  24. Hi janet.Could you recommend a book or a cookbook for someone who would like to change the way of eating to vegeterianism?Is it better to do it step by step or radically?

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    1. i did a radical one day change when i watched the movie Earthlings. just google it and watch the trailer and see if it doesn't have an effect on you. also the Skinny Bitch books are good for a hardcore introductory into vegan cooking. they really offer just good commonsense to lifestyle in general. x

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  25. I stayed with my dad when he got out of rehab after pneumonia and too much blood thinner. Old people forget. He didn't remember taking his pills so he took them again. And sometimes, again. He was in his 80's and very frail when I arrived. I fed him the foods his mother made (for him as a child and for me when I was a child) and the smile on his face at every meal was all the thank you I needed. And I let him have hot dogs once a week. On the "no" list but as one reader wrote--he's in his 80's. He looked forward to "hot dog day".

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    1. that's so sweet joanne. i came across my father-in-laws mothers cookbook. it is a spiral bound notebook of his favorite recipes that she wrote out for each of her children. i've been making things like goulash and things made with lard...needless to say he's in heaven. :) love that you made him hot dogs, so sweet. x

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kindness is never out of style.

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