An Update on Pulling Taffy (and a Recipe)

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Hi, Friends of Taffy—I thought I’d let you know how Pulling Taffy the book is doing! I wouldn’t say that copies are flying off the shelves, but sales are definitely respectable. And they are growing.

The book includes all the blog entries from my year-long journey with you in 2011, plus a couple of journal entries I didn’t put up on the site. I have added a series of retrospective essays in response to readers’ suggestions. Some tell stories from my mother’s earlier life; one gives a few tips for caregivers. These essays appear at the end of each month’s journal entries. I loved writing them, and I hope you enjoy reading them.

After the essays I ended up adding recipes (one per month) for dishes that my mother enjoyed. I believe that food is a key to memory so remaking these with my family brought her back to us vividly. One of the recipes appears below here to give you a sneak preview.

I am getting a real kick out of my book-related events. So far I have spoken at a church, in libraries, and to women’s clubs. The format is simple: I talk a bit about Alzheimer’s disease and read a bit from the book. I then open the floor to the audience. It’s amazing how candid and moving people can be about their caregiving (and care-receiving) adventures. I have learned a lot from these events. And of course I have sold books at them!

Please continue to spread the word about Taffy and her story. Word of mouth really helps. Information about ordering the book (as well as the e- and audiobook versions) and details about upcoming events may be found at the Pulling Taffy website.

And now … the recipe for….

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Taffy’s Chicken Curry

This recipe appears at the end of a chapter about one of my mother’s favorite years, her time in India between 1953 and 1954. I call the chapter “A Passage to India.” I call the recipe delicious. And it’s delightfully simple.

Ingredients:

a little bit of olive oil or peanut oil
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small piece of ginger, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 heaping teaspoons curry powder
2 heaping teaspoons cumin (use either powdered cumin or slightly crushed cumin seeds)
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock
1 small tomato, cut up
1 largish carrot, cut into small coins
the juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:

In a medium sauté pan or Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat; then quickly brown the chicken pieces. Remove them to a plate. Place the garlic, ginger, and onion pieces in the pan. Sauté them until they begin to brown nicely. Sprinkle the curry powder, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper over the vegetables. Toss them over medium heat for a minute or two. You don’t want them to burn, but you do want them to form a kind of roux.

Pour in a little of the chicken stock to make a paste. Cook the paste for another minute or two; then return the chicken to the pot and add the rest of the stock, along with the tomato. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer the curry over low heat for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes throw in the carrot pieces and simmer the curry for at least 20 minutes longer, still covered. Just before serving stir in the lemon juice.

Serve over rice along with chopped peanuts, coconut, chutney, and yogurt. In our family this serves 4 people. If you have major chicken eaters either plan on serving 2 or double the recipe.

The library publicist might have gotten a LITTLE carried away advertising my talk last month!

The library publicist might have gotten a LITTLE carried away advertising my talk last month!

A Little Video

Tinky with Seth

Here I am on our local newsmagazine show talking about caregiving. I wish I could embed, but alas I can only link to the segment.

It’s not my fault that we forgot to talk about reaching out to friends, relatives, and neighbors; Seth, the host, forgot to give me the cue for that talking point. (I like him anyway because he said I looked like a million dollars despite the fact that I am definitely pudgy on TV.) I love you, dear friends, relatives, and neighbors!

It IS my fault that my microphone had problems. (I’m afraid I jolted it when I reacted to Seth’s compliment.)

I really do know Rosalynn Carter’s name! And they gave me a better microphone later when I cooked asparagus pasta salad and rhubarb cobbler.

Enjoy….

Published in: on 5 June 2013 at 5:00 am  Comments (11)  
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An Anniversary

This photo will grace the cover of my upcoming book.

This photo will grace the cover of my upcoming book.

Greetings, Readers of “Pulling Taffy”!

Today is the anniversary of my mother’s death—a day of sadness but also of gratitude for her spirit and for the many gifts she gave me over the years.

The book version of Pulling Taffy should be out in the spring of 2013. I’ll update you then (and hope that at least some of you will want to buy it!). I’ve had fun adding stories from my mother’s life and reflections on taking care of her to my chronicles of our final year together.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d let you know that I do write about her from time to time in blog form. Here are a couple of recent entries you might like to read.

In September on my food blog, In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens, I shared the recipe for one of her favorite summer and fall foods, succotash made with cranberry beans.

And last week on my personal blog I wrote about one of her favorite songs—one I sang at her memorial party. It’s called “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” (Of course I HAD to sing it!)

I wish you all happy holidays and the best of new years. May your lives and your memories be as happy as mine……..

Tinky

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Published in: on 11 December 2012 at 2:05 pm  Comments (13)  
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Introducing Pulling Taffy

A new year is dawning, and with it a new writing project.

I’m Tinky “Dakota” Weisblat, a writer and singer from Hawley, Massachusetts. I’ll be spending winters in Alexandria, Virginia, starting this winter.

The climate in Virginia is kinder to my mother Jan, with whom I live. Jan (I often call her Taffy) is 92 and has dementia.

Alexandria is also a welcoming place for us because my brother David and his family live here.

“Pulling Taffy” will chronicle my adventures with Taffy and the rest of the family in 2011.

In some ways, I expect, my mother and I are typical of parents and children dealing with Alzheimer’s. As The Shriver Report documented this past fall, most caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients are female. So are most of those for whom they care.

Nevertheless, as anyone who has dealt with Alzheimer’s or another family-centric disease can tell you, there is no such thing as typical when it comes to these matters.

Why did I start this writing project?

I’m a writer. Writing is how I process information–and I’m pretty good at it. 

I hope that “Pulling Taffy” will help me document the progress of my mother’s disease and figure out ways in which to cope with it.

I also hope it will help me in my ongoing quest to remind myself that I have to take care of myself as well as my mother as the year goes on.

Last year, to tell you the truth, I generally let my mother’s disease overwhelm me. It progressed rapidly as the months went by, and I found myself increasingly withdrawing from the outside world in order to take care of Taffy.

This is good for neither of us. We both need the outside world. Despite her confusion about most of what goes on, Taffy adores seeing different people and visiting different places.

And I need to use my gifts—my brain, my writing, my singing—to remind both of us who we are. She doesn’t always remember, but I can.

Please join us on our journey in 2011. I promise my entries on this blog will not be uniformly serious! One of the greatest gifts of our household is that we never go through a day without laughter.

Published in: on 1 January 2011 at 4:00 am  Comments (12)  
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