What a difference a year makes. 365 days ago (although it feels a little like a lifetime ago), I was told I had cancer. Tears welled up in my eyes as my doctor explained it was likely lymphoma (it wasn’t) and for the most part, I held it together as I left the doctor’s office. I made it as far as the parking garage before I began to unravel. Thread by thread, I fell apart as I sat in my car, cried, and desperately tried to reach my husband on every phone number I knew for him.
I drove home, tears blinding my vision, and once there, I hugged my pup, called my family one by one, and waited for Ben who was racing to get home to me. My mind was spinning with questions – will I die? Will I ever be able to have children? What will treatment be like? Is this going to hurt? How did this happen? This can’t be right, can it? I will never forget that day.
A cancer diagnosis is comparable to being on a speeding train. Once you step on, you hold on for dear life and watch as appointments, strange faces, and vial after vial of blood pass you by. Your vision is blurred from the speed with which you progress and your mind spins with the abundance of information and medical terminology being forced into your brain.
But each day you wake up, you find the strength for another day and you meet the newest challenge. Beginning to lose your hair and taking control of the situation by buzzing it into a mohawk for the hell of it and then, down to nothing but your scalp. Buying smaller belts and eventually, smaller clothes as your body whittles away (not complaining too much about that one) due to your complete inability to eat. Summoning the strength to take a shower and then curling up in bed, still wet, exhausted and in pain. Shivering to the point of convulsions through one of the mildest winters ever as you fight the cold sensitivity. Crying (and throwing up) at the drop of a hat. It is a battle and anyone who tells you different doesn’t know. But I do, and I have the warrior scars to prove it.
But time heals all. One year has passed. Thanks to the glorious power of Mederma, the scars have lessened. The hair is growing. Color has returned to my skin. My energy grows with each passing day. And I can eat again. I can look back and be grateful for the love I have in my life and for the very simple fact that I still have a life to live. I plan to do so. My gusto and zeal has only been fanned by the fire of the lessons learned this past year.
Life is short, friends, I can tell you that much! The small stuff is certainly not worth stressing over – believe me, there are much bigger issues to deal with. Instead, I’m focusing my attention and energy on the things that matter most, the things that make me happy. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone here, but I like to cook. I like to drink wine with my husband. I like to entertain friends and laugh. I like to gather around a table blessed full of food and be grateful for the family sitting around it looking back at me. I’ll be doing much more celebrating in the days ahead. A random Tuesday? Why sure, that calls for a bottle of bubbly and our best glasses. Take the china out of the cabinet and use it, even if it is only to eat take out fried chicken to go with that bubbly. There’s never a better chance than right now.
lobster rolls with slow-fried french fries and old bay aioli
recipe: jb’s pour house, bon appetit
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4-5 sprigs of dill
1 c. white wine
4 c. water
4 – 4 oz. lobster tails
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 c. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Hot dog buns
Combine carrot, 1 celery stalk (diced), shallot, and 1 sprig of dill in a large saucepan. Cut 1 lemon in half, squeeze juice into saucepan and add juiced halves to the pot. Add whine, water and Old Bay. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add lobster tails and return to a boil. Boil lobsters for 1 minute per ounce. Remove from heat and let sit for about 3 minutes. Strain and let cool.
Once lobster has cooled enough to handle, remove meat from the shells. Discard remaining solids. Dice lobster into bite sized pieces. Combine lobster, mayonnaise, and the juice of half a lemon. Finely dice remaining celery stalk and add to the mixture. Mince dill and add about 2 tsp. fresh dill to the mixture. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a microwave safe dish. Brush the inside of hot dog buns with melted butter and broil until toasted to desired color. Spoon about 1/3 c. lobster salad per roll. Serve.
Slow-Fried French Fries
2 lb. russet potatoes
Peel potatoes and cut into long french fry sticks. I’d recommend using thicker cuts than what I show in the photo – about 3/8″ by 3/8″. Rinse and shake of excess water. Place in a large, deep stockpot and cover with oil (you will likely use all of a large bottle of oil plus some).
Place the pot over medium heat and cook for 45 minutes, occasionally scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula. Be careful not to do this too often, or you will break your potatoes into many small pieces as I did. Increase heat to medium high and cook until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to paper towel lined plate to drain. Season to taste.
Old Bay Aioli
1 egg yolk
1/4 – 1/2 c. canola or olive oil
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 – 1 lemon
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Use a food processor or blender for the best results. Combine egg yolk and the juice of 1/2 lemon. With the motor running, slowly stream in canola oil (you can use olive oil for a stronger taste). The mixture will begin to thicken. Stop motor, scrape down sides and add Old Bay seasoning. Depending on thickness, continue to stream in oil until desired consistency is reached. Taste and depending on preferences, add more lemon juice, oil, or seasoning. Serve with fries.
All contents and photographs © 2010 – 2012 jb’s pour house