Monthly Archives: October 2011

Homemade Pierogies

So you may recall that I started taking Prednisone last week. It’s a steroid meant to ease the symptoms caused by my chemo-induced lung toxicity (which I explained here). Prednisone is a pretty common drug for a lot of things, but like most of the drugs in my cabinet these days, comes with a slew of side effects. Weight gain, puffy face, low bone density, mood changes, unwanted hair growth, the list of fun possibilities goes on and on.

At first I was really, really bummed at the idea of having even more unwanted side effects. I mean, how cruel would it be if I were to lose the hair on my head and grow a moustache? Not cool universe, not cool at all.

I have since eased up on these fears a little having now noticed the ‘roids are actually doing what they are meant to do. My coughing is almost gone and I’m breathing easier. I didn’t realize how miserable I was with my poor poisoned lungs until I started to get some semblance of normal function back.

I will admit to you however that the biggest perk of the ‘roids thus far has been the boost in energy. I pop a pill and a half along with my morning coffee every day and I am good. to. go. Goodbye chemo fatigue.

It is with this preamble that I share a recipe with you today, inspired by my newfound steroid energy. I never would have attempted this if it weren’t for my chemo brain’s inability to think things through properly, and my false sense of stamina brought on by the steroids. I ended up crashing in the end, but first we’ll start with this:

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My Dad picked this book up for me at the flea market after haggling them down to pay a buck for it. At first I thought it was a funny gift, but I actually ended up devouring it. So many good recipes in here! Classic “foreign” dishes with very basic ingredients and cooking instructions. I have at least a dozen earmarked, but on the day in question I decided to start with “Polish Dumplings,” aka pierogies. I had all the ingredients on hand and my chemo tummy was telling me dumplings were a good idea.

Usually I don’t share recipes from books, but this one is well-known and already all over the internet:

2 cups sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp melted butter
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp veggie oil (I used canola)

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Just mix everything in a bowl until the dough is nice and soft (I had to add a tbsp of milk), separate the dough into two pieces and let sit for 10 minutes. Roll dough out thin and cut using a drinking glass. Put <tbsp of filling in the centre and fold in half, using a little water to help the dough seal. Then boil for 10 minutes, and fry to finish.

I know that cheese and potato is what most people associate pierogies with, but we had ground beef in the fridge and that sounded really good to me. So for my filling, I browned one pound of beef with one onion, 1 tsp of smoked paprika, 1 tsp of Trader Joe’s All-Seasoning Salute, and a fair bit of salt and pepper.

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Making the dough and beef was the easy part. It wasn’t until I started rolling out the dough with my 20 lb marble rolling pin and broken left arm (I can’t put weight on it remember!) I realized that this may have been a steroid and chemo fuelled endeavour, and perhaps not very well thought out.

I then proceeded to fill and fold approximately 158 pierogies.

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The only thing that disappointed me about the end product was that I couldn’t get my dough rolled out flat enough so my dumplings were a little too dough-y. With that said, the dough recipe is GOOD and having a little extra wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I really dug my beef filling because it didn’t make it too carb-y. My sealing technique could also use some work, but as my dad kindly pointed out, I didn’t grow up doing this in Poland so I can get a pass on that one.

Overall, this is a stellar recipe and I can’t wait until my next ‘roid-induced kitchen experiment with the Frugal Gourmet. I’ve got a grape leaves recipe that’s ear-marked that thankfully doesn’t require any rolling pins. Just a lot more folding.

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In other news, Buster and I have been separated for two days now because he was experiencing some tummy upset. My mom took him so I wouldn’t be exposed what he was releasing. But he is on the mend and I should be getting him back today! I went to visit him yesterday and Archie the poodle is still pissed by this new puppy development. He is not very keen on sharing me, and Buster, bless him, is too stupid to realize it. Haha.

Finally, thank you for the feedback on yesterday’s post. My mom and I both read through the comments and were blown away by some of the feedback and honesty in there. You all gave me a lot of food for thought and I feel really lucky to have so many great people standing by my side through the ups and downs of this cancer thing. You are more than welcome to come over for some pierogies. I still have about 87 of them left.

Time

I have learned a lot of lessons since being diagnosed with cancer four months ago. Things that some people don’t learn until they are several decades into life. There is one lesson however that I’ve come to realize I am having a hard time to learn and has to do with time.

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You see, when I began chemotherapy three months ago, there was talk of the possibility of my not doing the whole six months of chemo. Hodgkins responds very well to chemo, as proved after my first treatment when all my cancer symptoms vanished immediately.

But after meeting with my oncologist last week, I learned that the mass in my chest was just too large to be blasted out so quickly. I’ll have to do the full six months, with an additional six weeks of radiation still up in the air.

So at this point, that is only three more months of chemo. Maybe several weeks of radiation. To people looking in on the outside, that probably seems totally doable. To me however, the person who has to deal with the effects of these treatments and cancer every minute of my life, it’s an eternity.

I was talking about this with my dad, who was trying to convince me that in the grand scheme of things, being out of commission for 8 or so months of my life with this cancer thing isn’t that long. In my mind I started trying to do the math on what percentage 8 months of my 25 years is, compared to 8 months of his 57 years. I couldn’t come up with an answer, apart from the fact that it’s a lot longer duration for someone my age compared to someone his age.

My point being is that cancer will make a person grow up a lot, but there are some things that I can only learn with time. More specifically in this case, how to deal with time itself.

I would have never previously labelled myself as an impatient person. In fact, my rare patience is something I valued. But these days, as each treatment, each day, each minute spent being sick drags on, I feel my patience being tested. Time is always looming over me, whether it be the day I’m declared cancer-free, or the day I’m told the cancer has come back. Neither of which of course can be revealed until due time.

These days when I get upset and frustrated over what is happening, it’s not the “why me?” it used to be. It’s the “I want this to be over NOW” foot-stamping temper tantrums. I am so ready for this to be over, but time just isn’t moving fast enough for me.

As I feel worse with each passing day, the following day stretches out into something that feels longer. Three months can pass in a flash when you’re having fun, but it slows to a snail’s pace when you’re grasping to find the energy just to get through it.

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I know this is an honest and perhaps depressing post for a Monday, but it’s a very real reflection of something not only I as a cancer patient struggle with, but I think anyone who is sick or injured struggles with.

If anything, let it be a reminder that not everything is “over before you know it.” Because living through some things often gets very real, very gruelling, and very hard. That is assuming of course it is ever over. My cancer may come back. I still can’t straighten my injured left arm. And apparently, I’m still not very good at mental math.

Gone To The Dogs

I promise not to be one of those dog owners who does nothing but post pictures and videos of my dog. But… you’ll cut me some slack for today, right?

It’s just me and Buster for a good chunk of the day hanging out at the house together. Between our walks around the neighbourhood and naps on the couch, we’ve got to entertain each other somehow!

Anyways, here he is reacting to a video of a dog “singing” to some song. I’d never seen him perk his head like this before and it was just too much!

I should also probably mention that the picture of Buster and I in my last post was taken before my oncologist kind of freaked out about having a new puppy in the house. I mean, I guess they are not the cleanliest of creatures to have around while my immune system hovers just above zero. But the emotional boost is worth it…right?

My mom then freaked out and said Buster and I have to cut back on our cuddle time. I’m trying to teach him to sleep in his own bed. We both suffer from separation anxiety.

I’ll make sure he’s the cleanest dog ever. Even if that means dressing him in fancy-boy booties.

I’ll be back eventually with a post that isn’t about my dog. In the meantime, enjoy your Saturday!

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