Summer Garden Squash Lasagna for Seniors

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Seniors love their gardens.Here is how to use your early zucchini and summer squash
for a delightful Italian meal for your senior. by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mom is so sad that she no longer has her garden…she talks about it all the time. I just wish I could gift her a day in the dirt…any ideas for a gal stuck in a wheelchair?

George enjoying his tomatoes on the front porch

George enjoying his tomatoes on the front porch

Yes….get her out the door on your front or back porch and put some veggies in a container. Even if it’s just some herbs…she will feel a part of it again if you hand her the hose and let her water each morning or evening. Here is a fun recipe from our garden…George loves to sit on the porch and watch his garden grow and so when we cut our first squash today — we had to bring it in and make it into a meal!

What I love about cooking these days is I cook for four or six…then I freeze a couple of the left overs as meal size portions. When I have a day that is stress filled and I’m tired. I am able to go and get one of the home-made dinners and George can enjoy the moment all over again. I served this meal with a French roll. I find buying a couple of French rolls is so much easier than trying to finish off a big loaf of French bread. I know both you and your senior will enjoy this meal…its fun to use your own (or local) summer squash and this is a hit with George.

Summer Squash & Zucchini Lasagna

Our first summer squash and zucchini from our container garden

Our first summer squash and zucchini from our container garden

1 med summer squash and 1 med zucchini( chopped)
1/4 pound hamburger (room temp)
1/2 medium sweet onion (chopped)
1 tsp of house seasoning
1tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp fennel
1 can chopped Italian- stewed tomatoes
1  small can or 1 cup of tomato sauce

Turn the oven on to 350 and get a 9 x13 pan greased and sitting aside.

Layering the veggies with cheese

Layering the veggies with cheese

Start the hamburger browning on medium, on the stove. Break it apart so it is in small pieces as it cooks. Add the seasoning combo of salt, pepper and garlic..then when it’s brown…mix in the small chopped onion pieces and the fennel. Let it all brown together. (drain off the excess oil) Add in the squash pieces – that are cut in inch cube size – and the can of stewed tomatoes. Stir for two minutes to bring the flavor of the mix together than take off the burner and let set while you make the cheese layer.
Cheese Layer: 1 Small carton of small curd cottage cheese – 1 beaten egg – a few fresh  leaves of basil cut with scissors into small strips- a large sprig of parsley from your container, cut with scissors. 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix all of this together and add pepper and salt.
Layer 1/2 the veggie and meat mixture in the greased pan. Top that with the cheese layer dotted all over the first layer and then spread out. Layer the rest of the veggie and meat mixture and top it with the 1 cup of tomato sauce (or canned spaghetti sauce) and sprinkle that with the Italian Seasoning.
Top it with shredded mozzarella cheese and if you have some shredded fresh Parmesan you can mix that in with the other cheese. Sit the pan in a baking pan to prevent dripping (the squash really adds moisture to this dish, so you do not want to have it dripping in the oven as it bakes.) Bake for 45 minutes on 350 –watching the cheese so it browns but does not burn. Take it out and let it set for about 5-10 minutes so it will cool and set so it is easier to serve.
Italian casseroleI take the French roll – butter it and sprinkle with garlic, Parmesan cheese and Johnny’s Seasoning…and wrap in foil…put in the last 10 minutes so it can be warm and toasty…YUMM.

I usually serve George at his chair in the living room. I have a good tray that I use and I always line it with a towel or napkin and make it look as nice as I can. Eating when you are a senior..is a hard chore…many times seniors lose their ability to taste…so this is a great Italian seasoning meal that is tasty and fun for the senior to eat. Since it’s made of veggies I do not make a side salad..and because its quite rich…I let George eat…rest and then have his coffee with a couple of cookies later. I always put his pills, on the tray…so he can see them and remember to take them after the meal.

I like to give George a nice tray to encourage him to eat the meal

I like to give George a nice tray to encourage him to eat the meal

Italian is a fun way to mix up dinners for seniors that get so tired of everyday meals. Plus the use of the veggies that they helped raise…with their daily watering…and love…makes the dinner even better.

I understand that as the senior advances in his medical complications…eating spicy foods can be hard on the stomach. I did not use many spices in this and you could always leave out the garlic completely. Just work around it and then remember the dinner is fresh and the left overs are perfect frozen dinners for next week.

I always want to thank you for your loving gift of time and attention to your senior. Care giving is a very lonely way of life. So when you and your senior can share a little chore of watering a small container garden…and then enjoy the taste — it gives your daily life a boost…Blessings, francy

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Waffles for Family Brunch w Seniors

Family time with seniors and how to keep the senior in their own home. by francy Dickinson

Sourdough Waffles for Brunch!

Spring time is a perfect time to visit your seniors and take the makings for a meal. I always think that food breaks down the gap in a diverse family. My favorite meal on Sunday is waffles. I do it the  easy way, with Bisquick, and then I like to add in my sourdough from the crock. The waffles smell so good and are so rich. I always get a special syrup – in our house- its boysenberries. Then I do a quick egg for those that love them and keep it simple for those that just want the yumm of the waffle. If I think ahead I get a basket of strawberries and use those on top of the waffles too! YUMM.

It is usually easier to just take food over to Grandma’s house. The TV can go on and the NASCAR races, basketball or football can be entertaining the family. That leaves you to spend time with Grandma and get her kitchen cleaned as you prepare the waffles. The interaction with your elders on a fun basis, allows you to check out the condition of their kitchen and food pantry. When elders are living on their own- they need to be checked by the family to make sure they are eating well and keeping the house clean.

I always had the breakfast planned the day before, then we would go over to mom’s around 11:30AM so we could sleep in on Sunday. The family would say NO…but when we were all in the car the mood changed and the day was reprogrammed for helping Grandma.

As I cooked, the youngsters would be in the living room with the TV on. They would dust the area and run the vacuum. I would have my husband set the table in the dinning room, so mother could use her sweet china. It made a simple breakfast into a special meal.

I would be clearing out the fridge making sure the dates on the products were current or I would throw them and make a shopping list. I would go over the counters. Older eyes have problems seeing details in the kitchen….so a good counter top clean is easy and helpful. I would use a hot cloth to clean the shelves of the refrigerator and wipe off the stove top.

Making sure her dry pantry was not loaded with products that were ages old. When elders stop cooking or just cut it down to cooking for one…the pantry tends to age. You do not need old flour, cake mixes or canned food. It really takes a very short period of time to review it and clear it out. Once again writing down what should be replaced on the shopping list.

Keeping the conversation uplifted and involving the senior with your projects you will find the few hours you visit go fast and loads gets done.

While the table is being cleared and dishes done. My husband or the younger kids…would go around the house to do Grandma’s “to fix list” . The back yard might need mowing or the lightbulbs changing…what ever it is…you make a quick run through the house to make sure its safe and secure.

Don’t forget to change batteries on the fire alarms, change the filter on her furnace and clear the back porch so she can escape in an emergency.

Once a month, brunch at Grandma’s brings you all a good meal and a feeling of family. This is how we can keep our seniors in their homes. By helping them with the little things that get out of kilter…the things that need to be fixed, replaced and added to the mix to make their aging home stay clean, efficient and safe. Start your monthly visit for the whole family…your youngsters will learn how to gift their time and enjoy the love that their grandparents have for them, too!

HEY…would you click on your right and sign up button. You will then be notified when I share a new blog. And yes my senior care books are coming out…I am very excited about them.

UPDATE: on my Georgie..he has had a very tough month with his Alzheimer’s he is in a very emotional place. He had his meds upated and that helped. It has taken a lot out of me too. As you know the care giver is so involved with the spouse that a bad day for George is a bad day for me. But sharing what I do and how I have learned to cope, helps me get over the humps. Wishing you all a wonderful Spring…Here in Seattle we have had rainy weather day after day…so I am looking forward to the warmth and time in the yard again.

Blessings on you all…francy