Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Hypertension. I have high blood pressure. It was diagnosed last week when I went to see my doc about a sore shoulder. I should know better than to go in there - they always find something else wrong with you that you didn't know you had, like hypertension.

I shouldn't be surprised - absolutely everyone in my family has it, too - but I had managed to escape the pill brigade until now. I felt blessed by being free of pills and doctor visits and emails with the medical community, except for my semiannual eye exams and tooth cleanings. This feels like the beginning of true aging.

I've been thankfully free of the arthritis, insomnia and irregularity that some of my friends complain about and I still walk with Cora at least a couple of miles per day. When the young man at the grocery store asks if I need help out, I am always able to say with a smile, "No, thanks! I'm stronger than I look."

Oh, my hair has been gray and my face wrinkled and my figure round for quite some time - it's not as if there were no signs of advancing years around here. I wear glasses and I really relish my afternoon nap. Somewhere along the line, however, I learned to equate pill taking with truly getting older.

What has this to do with beef stew? Nothing much, except that on a recent afternoon when I arose from my nap feeling a little weak from the side effect of my new medicine (my cheerful young doc assures me that once I adjust to it, I won't feel this way any longer), I decided to make stew instead of doing some laps in the local high school pool as I had planned.

I hauled out my new Staub dutch oven and thoroughly browned big chunks of grass-fed chuck roast in a little olive oil on top of the stove, added onion, garlic, red wine, beef broth, carrots, parsnips and mushrooms, placed the lid on the bubbling proto-stew and set it in a slow oven to do its magic. I have some really lovely thyme going gangbusters out in the garden, so I added that and a couple of bay leaves, too.

After it bubbled along for a few hours, I took it out, let it cool, and put it in the fridge. To me, stews always taste better the next day and taking this step allows the fat to rise to the top and congeal so it's easily removed.

The final step to this true comfort food is to reheat it, remove the stew to a warm platter, cook down the juices with a little tomato paste until they are thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then serve it all with buttered noodles or chunks of potato cooked in the goozle.

Comfort food. Maybe that's why it seemed like a good idea to return to wintry fare when spring is bounding along outside - just needed a little comfort as I contemplate aging.



Blogger Greg said...

Like the character Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue used to say. Getting old ain't for sissy's. I began to figure out what he means. I too have hypertension, mostly around doctors. I get lots of exercise typing at my computer! Hang it there.:)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Less salt should surely help. I give consoling hugs, Zoomie. Age, feh.
Nice stew.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, yeah, my "white coat hypertension" was like that for years, then it escalated. Thanks for the encouraging words.

Cookiecrumb, I haven't cooked with salt for years, since MB already had high blood pressure. Hence the pills. Thanks for the long-distance hug.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Ah, well, it happens to us all and I can't think of any body better equipped to deal with this issue with grace, humor and intelligence. Comfort food also helps a lot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger peter said...

Even though they're salty, try adding a few anchovies next time. They boost the beefiness something fierce, especially in conjunction with the tomato paste. 3-5 in a big pot of stew wouldn't be too much sodium, would it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

Boooo to the pills, but I'm guessing not taking them is not an option really. Bummer that.
And may I say, you are absolutely right, stews DO always taste better the next day. Curries too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger Chilebrown said...

Did you know that eating bacon is good for hypertension? Well maybe if you walk 10 miles after eating a pound. You will manage and control your hypertension with flare and humor. I know Cora will like those extra stolls up the hill. You will be fine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

Add «Louis» to the list of your readers with hypertension...

It was a comfort food day for «Louis» too...
A nice juicy burger at Chow in Lafayette on a baguette with blue cheese. Yep. Fries. Wonderful fries - you could tell they weren't frozen...Ginger cake with crème chantilly and pumpkin ice cream for dessert.

Nope. «Louis» did not eat dinner...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, well really I've been pouting a lot...

Peter, I don't know - they are pretty salty little devils... but I'll look at the sodium level on the package and see if I can use them.

Morgan, I pay my doc to give me advice, so I feel somewhat compelled to take it. :-)

Chilebrown, I'm _not_ giving up bacon, although I may cut down a bit... I'm willing to do the extra walks.

Louis, that sounds like a killer burger and fries! Must get out there one of these days.

All, thanks for the encouraging words - they are all appreciated!

Thursday, March 25, 2010  
Blogger katiez said...

So far have avoided all that.... I'm firmly on the long cruise on an Egyptian river (de Nile) I get the eye exam, even got the glasses but have refused to wear them... I know, I know, I can only go for so long.... Mon mari when on the little white pills about 7 years ago, and after the adjustment felt better than he had in years - hand in there... and enjoy the naps!

Friday, March 26, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

KatieZ, you sound just like my attitude up to now! :-) My Beloved has been taking pills for quite some time now so I'm not alone, just stubborn, I guess.

Friday, March 26, 2010  

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