Real Cooking

I’ve decided to take the week off. It’s really in my best interest seeing as I have an enlarged spleen. Yep, that’s right, an enlarged spleen. Fun, huh?

To add to the fun, both of my kids are home sick (again) with yet another round of sinus infections.

It’s official, we’re all really ill. The three of us went to the clinic (again) today to get checked out by a real-life medical professional and he pronounced us all “unwell.”

Dr. Randy Whitely gave us attentive care, informative handouts, prescriptions for antibiotics and, to me, this special advice: “Take it easy. Nothing too strenuous until the enlargement goes away.”

Dr. Whitely, I’m taking your words to heart. The first thing I did when I got home from the clinic was to start making phone calls.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t make it to (fill in the meeting, meal or class here). I have an enlarged spleen.”

“Could you take over this (fill in meeting, meal or class here) for me? You see, my spleen is enlarged and the doctor wants me to rest.”

When my husband came home, I handed him the printout that Dr. Whitely had given to me.

“An enlarged spleen can be ruptured if hit or strained,” it stated. “A rupture of the spleen causes severe bleeding and is a medical emergency. For this reason, you should avoid heavy lifting and any kind of jarring activity or contact sport. Your activities will need to be restricted until your spleen returns to normal size. You will gradually be able to return to school, work and sports.”

Because this is a family column, I won’t go into the discussion that followed.

Anyway, I’m home with-have you heard?-an enlarged spleen. It’s a result, I understand, from that organ having to work overtime in trying to fight the infection that I’ve been battling since coming down with the flu (or was it really mononucleosis?) in January.

I’ve been sick for too long. We all have been. Except for Keith. Oh, he had the sniffles, but with a little extra sleep and a few decongestants he was up and going full speed in just a couple of days.

It’s not fair.

I’m not positive why the kids and I keep getting sick, but if I had to venture a guess, it would be that we just rub shoulders with a lot more people than my husband does.

On a daily basis, Keith sees his brother…and cows. And maybe the vet. Perhaps a salesman or two. And he’s out in the fresh, clean air.

My kids, on the other hand, spend most of their days in that incubator of wily germs and crafty bacteria-the elementary school. I know that both the teaching and janitorial staffs try to maintain a clean and healthy environment. But let’s face it, you get enough snotty, gooey little people together in one room and it’s going to be hard not to bring some kind of bug home with you at the end of the day.

And when those kids come home with a runny nose or an upset tummy, who do they go to? Mom.

It’s Mom who kisses their brow to see if there’s a fever. And it’s Mom who picks their snotty tissues up from the floor when they’ve missed the trash can. And it’s Mom who draws them to her breast with words of comfort when they can’t get a deep breath or after the latest round of vomiting subsides.

And Mom gets sick, too. And, at least for me, Mom gets an enlarged spleen out of the deal. Weren’t a thickened waist and stretch marks enough?

So, here I am at home, avoiding heavy lifting, jarring activity and contact sports.

Darn…I so had my heart set on starting a vigorous physical workout program this week, but I guess that’s going to have to wait. I’m under doctor’s orders to take it easy.

God bless you, Dr. Whitely.

* * *

My son rode along to the girls’ sub-state finals at Southeast of Saline High School with his cousin, Daniel, to help cheer on the Trojans. When he returned from the game, he came into the kitchen with something hidden behind his back. It was a cookbook that he had purchased as a surprise for me: Recipes from the Purple Pantry…Trojan Treasures.

The book was a fund-raiser for the Southeast of Saline Education Foundation.

“I thought you might want this, Mom. I looked in it to see if I recognized any of the (contributors’) names, and since I didn’t know anyone, I thought you probably didn’t have this cookbook. Is that OK?”

Is that OK? A son that goes to a basketball game, sees a cookbook and not only thinks of his mom, but buys her a gift out of his own spending money.

Well, my spleen didn’t rupture, but my heart almost burst.

* * *

Here’s a recipe taken from that cookbook. Two different cooks submitted the recipe, so I’m thinking it’s probably a good one. Maybe I can make it sometime…you know, when my spleen isn’t enlarged.


2 lbs. pork roast

1 lb. pinto beans

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbs. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 cup picante sauce

1 Tbs. salt

2 pinches ginger

4 cups water

Tortilla chips

Soak rinsed beans in enough water to cover well, overnight in a large crockpot. No heat. In the morning, mix all ingredients, including the roast and beans. Cook in crockpot on high all day, or about nine hours, till roast is tender enough to break into stringy pieces. Mash some beans to thicken broth. Serve with chips (or tortillas), cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc.

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