Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Enrich Life by Adapting Hobbies 

We all want to be engaged in purposeful and fun activities. When we enrich life by adapting hobbies, we help people living with dementia stay engaged in activities that are meaningful and interesting to them.

Discover What’s Most Important

To adapt hobbies, ask yourself: What is most important about the activity?

For example, for gardeners, is it the feel of their hands in the soil? Is it producing flowers or harvesting vegetables? Is it having something to take care of?

For those who like quilting, is it the finished product or making the squares? Is it the companionship with other quilters? Or the texture and colors of the fabric?

For those who like cooking, is it the measuring and stirring? Do they enjoy the aromas and textures of the ingredients? Is it the joy of preparing something that thrills others? Or is it the simple pleasure of tasting delicious foods?

With those answers, you can support the aspects of the activity that really resonate. You can enrich life by adapting hobbies.

Here is a story about adapting your attitude.

Embrace the New News

That Tuesday morning, she walked into the kitchen and saw her husband, relaxed in his chair, drinking his morning coffee, and reading the newspaper. He loved his morning ritual and everything was as it always had been. Except now he was holding the newspaper upside down. At first, she was upset, angry that dementia had robbed him of reading. As she battled with her feelings, he hummed, a sign he was happy and content. She took a breath and realized, she too should be happy and content.

Go for the Greens

I love this story from Mara Botoni, author of When Caring Takes Courage. Here’s how she kept her grandfather, who was living with dementia,  involved in his golf game. For a time, he walked the golf course and played with empathetic friends. When he could no longer play, he liked being driven around the course, enjoying the scent of freshly mown grass, the vistas of rolling green lawns, and the thwack of a well-hit ball. Later, at home, the family set up an indoor putting green and watched golf tournaments on television with him.

 

 

Deborah Shouse is the author of Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together and Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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A Thanksgiving Love Story: Bringing Home the Gravy

Thanksgiving changed the year I went vegetarian. I did not mind giving up the tender, moist turkey or the savory oyster-specked stuffing. But giving up the flavorful flow of mushroom-laden gravy was quite another thing. I watched enviously as my family ladled the luscious liquids over their mashed potatoes, turkey and stuffing. As I nibbled dryly on my carrots, green beans and salad, my lower lip protruded. I felt left out and deprived.

My brother, Dan, ever alert to the pouting big sister, came up with a solution.

“Next year I will make special vegetarian gravy just for you,” Dan promised.

Years later, that special vegetarian gravy has become one of my favorite Thanksgiving rituals. I begin fantasizing about it the moment the autumn leaves turn crimson. I know that in mere weeks, my brother and his family will arrive and I will have my yearly boost of family and feasting, highlighted by gravy.

When my brother calls to tell me his travel plans, I write his arrival time and GRAVY on my calendar. The night he comes to town, we make the shopping list together, avidly discussing how many pounds of mushrooms we need for both the carnivore and vegetarian pots of gravy. I relish the early-Wednesday morning trip through the grocery store, where Dan and I and our children carefully select the foods we will be making the next day. We linger in the produce aisle, filling several sacks with gleaming white mushrooms and buying rustling yellow onions. mushrooms

On Thanksgiving Day, Dan and I and other family members spend long, luxurious hours cooking. Dan mans the stove and I manage the slicing and chopping. Together we snap, peal, slice and dice the vegetables that will accessorize the turkey. I take special pleasure in wiping clean and slicing the mushrooms, then bringing my brother the brimming bowlful. When he has nodded his approval, I get out the old copper pot I bought in Germany in the early seventies. This year, Dan is improving his already amazing gravy. With his new immersion blender, he creates a rich base of caramelized onions, whose flavor surpasses that of the lowly vegetable cube. He adds in a little flour, then gentles the mushrooms into the onion broth. When the pot is bubbling with thickening nectar, he says, “Taste this and see what you think.”

I always think the same thing—“Wow, this is great.”

We are in a state of giddy and satisfied exhaustion by the time our guests arrive. We share grateful prayers with everyone and lay out the feast, including plenty of turkey-based gravy for the rest of the family.gravy

Then comes the moment I have been waiting for: I sit down, my own personal pot of gravy poised by my plate. I cover the mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, and salad with the aromatic concoction and I savor every bite. But more importantly, I savor the bounty, creativity, and love that have gone into this simple dish. Through this gravy, my brother speaks with his hands and his heart, saying: “I care about you and I am going to make sure you are not left out and that you have something fantastic to eat.”

For that and so much more, I am thankful.heart gratitude

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And now, if you’d like to create a Thanksgiving love story, bring home this delicious gravy.

Dan Barnett’s Chicago Style  Never-Enough-Mushroom Vegetarian Gravy

Ingredients

2 large onions (chopped)

2 pounds (or more) white button mushrooms sliced (can add some portabellas for enhanced flavor)

1 cup of white wine (of lesser quality)

Salt & pepper to taste

Olive oil

Directions

To create the gravy base:

In a four -quart pot, pour a thin layer of olive oil and turn the burner on medium.

Add the onions and sauté for10-15 minutes until they are caramelized (golden brown)

Add water until the pot is about half full.

Simmer slowly for 30 minutes.

Blend the onion water mixture using either an immersion blender or by transferring the mixture to a food processor.

Once you have the gravy base

Add the 2 pounds (or more) of sliced mushrooms, white wine and fill the pot with water until it is 3/4 full.

Simmer for 30 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.  images

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Deborah Shouse is the author of Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together and Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Stirring Up Connections through Cooking

mom at 88Ron’s mom Mollie was the queen of cooking. Up until age 90, she’d stir up a batch of rice pilaf, use her special grinder to make pink applesauce, or bake her formidable brownies. When she could no longer remember her favorite dishes, we invited her into the kitchen and used her well-worn recipe cards. We chose a time of day when Mollie felt alert and we created a quiet atmosphere, free from extraneous noise and distractions. Since Mollie had trouble standing, we laid our cooking equipment and ingredients on a table, so she could comfortably participate. Then we shared the tasks of measuring, pouring, adding ingredients, stirring, and tasting. We loved this gentle and conversational time in the kitchen. Now Jacqueline Hatch, from Seniorly.com, offers some brain boosting desserts and easy ideas for connecting through the culinary arts.

Brain Healthy Recipes for the Creative Care Partner

By Jacqueline Hatch

Cooking is a wonderful way to engage the senses and enjoy a meaningful activity with a loved one or client who is living with dementia. According to experts at Alzheimers.net, “Sensory stimulation uses everyday objects to arouse one or more of the five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch), with the goal of evoking positive feelings.” Below are some recipes that are simple and fun to make together. These healthy eats provide stimulation for all five senses and are packed with nutrients the brain craves as we age.

 

blueberry crumbleDelicious Blueberry Crumble

Researchers at Scripps Memorial Hospital in California say, “Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.” Studies also show that regular consumption of these powerful berries can improve learning skills in aging minds.

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Have your loved one help you wash and de-stem 2 pints of blueberries. Together, you can arrange them evenly at the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. Have her squeeze juice from half a lemon over the top of the berries.
  3. Together, take a large mixing bowl and combine 1 cup of flour, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup coconut oil, 2 tbsp maple syrup, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and 2 pinches of salt. Invite your  loved one to squeeze the other half of the lemon into this mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Working as a team, spread this topping mixture over the blueberries, and bake about 30-40 minutes or until the topping is golden.
  5. Let cool a bit and then enjoy your treat!

 

Raw Walnut Fudge

The ingredients in this mouth-watering recipe contain tons of nutrients that your brain will love. The coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, the cacao powder contains 4 different neurotransmitters that act as natural anti-depressants, the maple syrup contains manganese and zinc, and the walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.

 

  1. Together, combine 1 cup coconut oil (melted), ¼ cup raw cacao powder, ¼ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup almond butter, ¼ cup organic walnuts (chopped), and 1 tsp vanilla bean powder. Ask your loved one to mix all of these ingredients together with a large spoon.
  2. Help your loved one spread the mixture evenly in a 5×9 glass pan.
  3. Put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or until fully hardened.
  4. Cut and serve!

 

Seniorly-37With these easy, healthy recipes on hand, you can get a head start on taking care of your aging brain. Chances are, with the right nutrients in your body, you will even feel happier and more active than ever.

~

Jacqueline Hatch is a writer, editor, and publisher at Seniorly.com, a company that provides support for caregivers and their families during a difficult transition period in their lives. The website provides comprehensive information on aging options, resource articles for healthy living, and a Senior Living Blog.

Sources:

www.seniorly.com/resources

http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-01-23/sensory-stimulation-alzheimers-patients/

http://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-healthy-foods-nutrition/brain-healthy-recipes

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_mind_and_memory

http://bebrainfit.com/brain-food-recipes/

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.  Coming soon: Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together

 

One Potato, Two Potato

The next three blogs are dedicated to the holiday season.  This story just appeared in Chicken Soup’s new Merry Christmas book.  Here’s to each of us sharing our light in the world.

The Latke Legacy

“This is not like Mom used to make,” I had to confess. It was my first Chanukah of being the latke lady. My mother’s potato pancakes were crisp, flat, and nicely rounded. The texture was smooth but not mushy and they shone with just a glint of leftover oil. I had been a latke apprentice for years, pressed into service by Mom. I was a key cog in the labor pool, peeling the potatoes, then wearing out my arm rubbing them against the stainless steel grater, using the side with the teardrop shaped holes. My mother must have known that enlisting my help would keep me from pestering her to make potato pancakes for other occasions. Only once a year did these delicious patties grace our table, when we lit the first candles of Chanukah and began the eight-day Festival of Lights. images

My debut latkes were pale and greasy, like something carelessly served in a late night diner. I myself was pale and greasy from the stress of trying to coax the patties into cohesion. First they had drifted apart—too little flour. Then they had turned cliquish, glomming into militant lumps. When I had finally worked through the potato/flour/egg ratio, I bumped into the complex dynamic between potatoes, oil and heat. For three hours I had struggled to create this barely edible token of tradition.

Years passed. Every Chanukah, I faced a different challenge. The oil was too cold, too hot, not enough, too much. The texture was too coarse or too fine. The grated onions were too strong or too weak. The latke mixture was too thin then too thick. Every year, I hoped for pancakes that tasted like Mom’s and got instead grey leaden latkes. My daughters, who peeled and grated potatoes with me, examined my finished product warily, smothering it in the traditional applesauce and often taking only a few bites. I worried that when they grew up, they would forego the holiday tradition and turn to something simpler and more delicious, like frozen hash browns. I felt a sense of failure as a mother and as a tender of the tradition. My mother had shown me how to make the latkes: why couldn’t I measure up and instill the potato pancake protocol in my progeny?

Then my daughter Sarah, fresh from college and a first job, moved back to town and offered to help me prepare the holiday meal. She was a food channel devotee and had already orchestrated several dinner parties, creating the menus and cooking all the courses. She understood the relationship between vegetables, oil and heat.

latke“Mom, I think you need to squeeze more water out of the potato mixture,” she advised. “Maybe you could use a food processor to grate the potatoes. What if you used two pans instead of trying to cram so many into one?”

I stepped back and she stepped forward and under her guidance, we prepared the latkes. As I watched my daughter mastermind the cooking, I realized that tradition could be kept alive in many ways. My daughter was starting the tradition of “doing what you’re good at,” giving me a chance to forget my own culinary challenges and applaud her self-taught abilities.

That Chanukah night, everyone at the table oohed and ahhed at the sight of the latkes. Each one was golden brown and crisp, free of extra oil. I didn’t even have to secretly search and pluck out a “good one,” like I had been forced to do in previous years.

I looked around the table of friends and family and took a bite of my daughter’s latke. My mouth filled with the crunch, flavor and intriguing texture of a of well-fried potato pancake. This was the latke I had been waiting for; just like Mom used to make. Only better. latkes

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Taking a Dose from the Culinary Pharmacy

“Did you remember to pack my medication?” I ask Ron.medicine

We are sitting in our dining room, eating breakfast before taking off on a trip to the Black Hills.

“I did,” he says, swallowing the last bite of his omelet. “Do you need any right now?”

“Maybe just a small dose.”

Ron dashes upstairs to his secret cache of very important stuff and extracts the vital substance. He returns and hands me a small chunk of rich dark chocolate. This is my self- prescribed treatment for many of life’s challenges, both at home and on the road, including craving sweets, sour stomach, homesickness, and worry.

chocolateFor years, I’ve felt dark chocolate is important. But I didn’t understand how vital it really is until my brother Dan generously sent us a copy of Rebecca Katz’s new creation, The Healthy Mind Cookbook.  Rebecca is an accomplished chef, author, national speaker, and director of the Healing Kitchens Institute.  In this intriguing cookbook, she includes a glorious piece of prose she titles The Culinary Pharmacy, where she cites brain boosting foods and their healthy properties. The triumphant sounds of the Hallelujah Chorus seem to envelope me as I read the words “Dark chocolate” in her healing list. Avocadoes, cashews, mint, lemon, peaches, and strawberries, are among the other fabulous foods that boost our brains while managing to taste delicious. I am so impressed with the Culinary Pharmacy and with Rebecca’s friendly recipes that I reach out to her, to see what simple tips she has for busy care partners.

Though she is in the middle of a book tour, training a new puppy, and meeting a book deadline (her newest book on Soups is coming out in 2017), she graciously agrees to talk to me. Her father lived with dementia and the topics of brain healthy eating and using foods to engage with people are very dear to her.

First I give her a short quiz, which she aces.

“Guess what section of your book I read first?” I ask.

She ponders for about two seconds, then says, “The Sweet Bites section.”

Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles“I earmarked the Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles,” I confess.

“I took these truffles with me when I testified in front of a White House committee on dementia and food,” she says. “I wanted people to understand that we all need to experience healthy and flavorful foods.”

She tells me how preparing and cooking interesting foods together can help care partners stay engaged and connected. (For more details on that interview, please wait patiently until October 2016, when my new book on dementia and creative arts emerges. I’ll feature experts on cooking, music, gardening, storytelling, arts, and more!)

After a heartfelt conversation, Rebecca makes a very sweet gesture. She invites me to include the famed Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffle recipe. She also gives me a tip for instant gratification.

“Instead of cooling the chocolate mixture for two hours before roll  them into truffles, you can stick them into the freezer for 15 minutes.  (After they are rolled and ready to eat you can store leftovers in the freezer)” Which is just what Ron and I do. And they are absolutely so healing and mouthwatering that I am considering adding them to my emergency “medications” list.

Here is the recipe from Rebecca’s book:healthy mind cookbook

CHOCOLATE CHERRY WALNUT TRUFFLES

MAKES ABOUT 20 TRUFFLES • PREP TIME: 15 minutes • COOK TIME: 21/4 hours or 15 minutes if you place the chocolate mixture in the freezer.

My dad, Jay, had this delightful habit; whenever you told him something that struck his fancy, he’d

roar, “That’s FANTASTIC!” and gleefully clap his hands for emphasis. This was doubly true if you

told him he was getting chocolate for dessert. Jay never met a piece of chocolate he didn’t like, and

I have a feeling that just hearing what’s in these truffles—dates, cherries, and walnuts, smothered

in chocolate, rolled in coconut and curry—would’ve given him cause to offer up a standing ovation.

Studies suggest walnuts may boost memory, while chocolate, as we all know, is the ultimate mood boosting

agent. One bite of this dessert and you’d be hard-pressed to feel any stress.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons boiling water

2 ounces dark chocolate

(64 to 72% cacao content),very finely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup pitted and halved Medjool dates

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sea salt

1/4 cup finely diced dried cherries

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Stir the boiling water into the chopped chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Using a small whisk, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and glossy. Coarsely grind the walnuts in a food processor, then add the cocoa powder, dates, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and process for a minute. Then add the chocolate mixture and process until smooth, another minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir the cherries into the chocolate mixture.

Cover and chill for approximately 2 hours, in the refrigerator or 20 minutes in the freezer until firm. On a plate, mix the coconut, curry powder, and a pinch of salt. Scoop up approximately 2 teaspoons of the chilled chocolate mixture and roll it into a smooth ball between your palms, then roll it in the curried coconuts to coat. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then place the truffles in an airtight container and chill thoroughly before serving.

COOK’S NOTE: If you want to give the truffles a golden hue, toast the coconut in a 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  For a more distinctive taste, add another ¼ teaspoon of curry powder.

To learn more about Rebecca, her books, speaking, and to get great tips on healthy foods, please visit her website at Rebeccakatz.com

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

Four Insights for Connecting with Cooking

imgres “Mom, are you ready to help me make your famous meatloaf recipe?’ Stacy asked. Stacey was in town for the weekend, visiting her mom, Alice, and giving her sister a break from caregiving.

Stacy had wanted to take Alice out to eat, but her sister told her, “Mom can get pretty overwhelmed and confused when she’s around a lot of people. Why don’t you stay home and cook with her?”

Her sister was a nurse and seemed at ease with Alice’s diminished memory. But Stacy bit her lip when her sister suggested cooking.

“Think of a family recipe,” her sister advised. “Get all the ingredients organized beforehand and make sure the room is quiet and Mom has a comfortable chair. Once Mom gets started, she can do quite a bit. Just don’t rush her.”

It just so happened Stacy had been craving her mother’s famous meatloaf. That evening, she watched the news while she laid out the bowls, utensils, and ingredients on the table.

“A feast!” Alice exclaimed, as she shuffled into the kitchen. Stacy clicked off the television and said, “It will be a feast, Mom. It’s your meatloaf recipe. Will you help me make it?”

“You used to help me. In Provincetown,” Alice said.images

Stacy’s eyes misted. Sometimes her mom didn’t seem to know who Stacy was and when that happened, Stacy could barely breathe.

“You stood on a chair,” her mom said.

“Wearing Grandma’s apron.” Stacy could see the apron, a frilly flowered chintz with a red ribbon sash.

“This is your grandmother’s recipe,” Alice said. “She lived in Boston, you know, with her older sister.” As she reminisced, Alice cracked and whipped the egg. Then she poured the mixture onto the beef and blended it in with her hands. She sprinkled the breadcrumbs into the meat, added a handful of her secret ingredient—raisins– and plenty of pepper, then mixed it all together.

Stacy gave her mother the pan and Alice expertly shaped the loaf. Then she noticed her messy hands and wiped them on her slacks. “Am I eating dinner with you? Where is the other one?”

“She is out with friends tonight. And yes, you are eating dinner with me.”

“What time will your father get here?”

Stacy looked carefully at her widowed mom and wondered what she should answer.

“It’s just you and me tonight, Mom.”

“Don’t forget the parsley,” Alice said.

While the meatloaf cooked, Stacy brought over some bread dough she’d thawed earlier. Alice had been a phenomenal baker and Stacy still remembered the scintillating taste of her mom’s cinnamon rolls. When Alice saw the dough, she began to knead it. As she kneaded, she talked about the types of bread she’d made when she was a girl. “Even sourdough,” Alice said. “Our cousin brought a starter from San Francisco and we were all a buzz.”

“Which cousin, Mom?”

“Oh that Gertrude. You remember her, always dolled up and always flirting with the men. But she could bake a good dinner roll.”

“What was your favorite thing to bake?”

Alice slid her hands over the rolling pin and rolled the dough thin. Then she tore it into little tadpole shapes, one of their favorite childhood treats.

“Remember, Stacy doesn’t like hers burned,” her mom cautioned.

Stacy smiled.

Even though her mother ate little and fell asleep at the dinner table, Stacy felt like the evening was a success.

cooking 2“Cooking together can help family members connect in the kitchen,” says Kate Williams, LMSW,Care Counselor/Social Worker, Henry Ford Health System Collaborative, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Michigan Chapter. “The act of preparing food can draw on long term memory and trigger activities people have done in the past.”

Since the care partner needs to make meals anyway, working together offers a low-stress way to accomplish a task and a chance to relive family and food memories. People want to be useful and have a purpose; Kate believes creating food for and with someone meets that need.

For a successful cooking experience, Kate offers these tips:

· When designing cooking activities, consider the person and their current skills. Make sure the number of steps is appropriate to his or her level of memory loss.

· Give them as much independence as possible and be ready to help as needed.

· Create an environment with few distractions.

· Prepare the food and cooking utensils, so everything is at the ready. If possible, using the same type of equipment they used in the past.

Even for those who can’t really follow directions, the sensory experience of handling food can be connective and comforting. Cooking projects engage the senses, invite memories, offer a sense of completion and purpose, and are nurturing for both care partners.

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.