Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Belly Up to the Potluck Bar

It turns out that San Gabriel Valley bloggers know their way around the keyboard and the kitchen.

Take a peek at some of the food at our Primavera in Altadena Potluck Picnic and find out how to make a simple California Salad at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Shoe-In at the City of Hope

While my doctor is writing out my prescriptions or making arrangements for future appointments, I sit perched on the exam table, dangling my legs and scrutinizing his appearance. I find comfort in the predictability of his wardrobe.

Today I looked down and saw that he was wearing a new pair of brown, lace-up shoes. They were the identical color and style as always, but looked as though they had just been lifted from the box. "Why, you're wearing new shoes, but they're just like your old ones," I blurted out as though I was talking with a six-year-old.

He explained that he's worn the same style for years. When it's time to replace them, he simply brings the box with him to the store, hands it over to the clerk and requests an identical pair.

No wonder he has time and energy to heal his patients, write thought-provoking essays and search for a cure for cancer.

(Imagine what I could accomplish if I ever found the perfect purse. My brain could move on to more lofty goals.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is going to be SO easy next year

Half the fun and half the work of throwing a tea party is figuring out the menu and recipes.

Now I know we can't miss with the Julienne scones and the miniature pecan tassies. Click on the links for the full recipes at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tea for Ten for A3m

Today Nancy and I hosted a "Tea for Ten," one of our silent auction donations to A3M (Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches).

We had a great time as the chefs and hostesses at this fun event for an important cause. Will we do it again next year? Do minorities need to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry? (That would be a "yes" answer to both questions.)

Read more about it and find out how to make lemon curd at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Open Mouth, Insert Flan

This rich and easy flan will make you want to dance the "flandango."

For more details, flandango over to Open Mouth, Insert Fork. (I've added photos and cooking notes since I originally added the post on Tuesday.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Painter Banter (By popular demand)

The inspiration for our house's paint palette


After: A house of a different color.
I miss the ivy, but, like my hair, it'll grow back.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

While I Was Sleeping

I spent most of today in a drug-induced slumber.

I reported for duty at the City of Hope at 7:00 am for my 8:00 bone marrow biopsy, a procedure that involves a large needle thrust directly into the hip bone to extract the milky marrow. It's the closest I'll probably ever come to Medieval torture or a stay at Guantanamo Bay.

All joking aside, my doctor is very skilled at this procedure and it's only excruciating for about eight seconds. (My friend Bill, a fellow lymphomaniac, tells me that his doctor has him count backwards from eight during the painful part.)

Who couldn't deal with eight seconds of pain? Apparently, me. When the coordinator encouraged me to try sedation, I thought, "Why not?"

The anesthesiologist administered a drug called Propofol, or "Vitamin P," as my doctor calls it. I was making z's within two seconds of the time that the doctor pushed the milky syrum into my veins. Fifteen minutes later (five minutes after the ten-minute procedure was complete) I was wide awake. No grogginess. No fuzzy thinking. No desire to return to the Land of Nod.

I felt as refreshed as though I had slept for ten hours straight. The nurse told me that many patients dream and talk in their sleep during the fifteen minutes under, so the drug must instantly trigger a deep REM sleep.

But don't tell anyone. If word gets out about Vitamin P, it could be the next illicit street drug. Just imagine the applications. Sleep-deprived parents. Cramming college students. Anyone wishing to sleep through 15 minutes of boredom, pain or grief.

After the bone marrow biopsy, I crossed the hall to the infusion room for my quarterly infusion of Rituxan, a drug that is successfully extending my remission. The nurse pushed Benadryl through my veins, and I slept a restless 90 minutes and woke up groggy. This continued for the next three hours. Sleep. Grogginess. Sleep. Grogginess. And so the cycle continued.

What I need is another 15 minutes of solid "Vitamin P" sleep, but I'll have to wait another year before I get it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Susan Campoy, Julienne owner, dies at City of Hope

Long before I started shouting out, "Tall half-caf, lowfat latte for here," at Starbuck's, I was ordering full-caf, full-fat cafe au laits at Julienne in San Marino.

A friend, who was once the restaurant manager for Julienne, introduced four other Gymboree moms and me to the joys of cafe au laits and Julienne nearly 20 years ago. It was like a modern day circling of the wagons when we six moms took over the cafe's patio with our six oversized strollers filled with our bouncing bistro babies.

It didn't take long to become a fan of Susan Campoy, chef-owner of Julienne. She was one of the few females in that role at that time. The true tale of how she built a small, home-based catering business into a popular San Marino and Pasadena hot spot is practically legend. The fact that she did it after a divorce to support her four daughters is even more inspiring.

About a year ago, after I heard my name called for my doctor's appointment at the City of Hope, the nurse announced, "Oh, I'm sorry. We meant the other Susan. Susan Campoy."

I couldn't have been more excited if she had said Angelina Jolie. "Susan Campoy?" I asked. "Yes. Do you know her?" asked the nurse. "Everybody in Pasadena knows Susan Campoy," I explained. "She owns Julienne."

After that, I kept my little secret to myself - that we two Susans shared the same doctor (and perhaps the same disease) at the City of Hope.

Today I read in the LA Times that Susan Campoy died from breast cancer at the City of Hope on Wednesday. She was 70.

I, along with thousands of others, mourn her passing. Those who knew her personally and those, like me, who never met her but admired her flair for life as much as her flair for food. Those who nibbled her famous scones or sipped cafe au laits on the patio. And those who learned to cook at the kitchen she outfitted at the Village Cafe for homeless women. We will all miss Susan.

Memorial donations (of money or blood) may be made to the City of Hope.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We interrupt this banter for . . .

I know. I know. The name of this blog is "Cancer Banter," not "Color Banter" or "Paint Banter," but this house painting business is taking over my life way more than cancer treatment ever did.

With that said, I interrupt the cancer banter for a public service announcement.

The bragadocious sign in our front yard reads, "You only wish your house looked this good." Oh, yea?

Don't you all wish your house looked like this?
Why pick two colors when you can experiment with 15?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mixing Medicine and the Media

I've always been proud of my hematologist/oncologist at the City of Hope, Dr. Stephen Forman, but I burst the rest of my buttons after reading his thoughtful and compassionate contribution to the Huffington Post, After the White House: A Retirement Plan for President Bush.

I wish I had written it.

Call 911. Can this dish be saved?

Find out how one secret ingredient turned a DOA recipe for farfalle with yellow beets, beet greens and pine nuts from boring to bold. The kitchen is now open at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Back from a Break

After that 500th post, I figured it was time for a rest from blogging.

Read more about the seasons of blogging, cooking and growing at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.