Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 2 of Food for Thought – Alice’s Italian Buttered Rice

Each day from October 5-12, I will post one of my mother’s recipes (my favorites of course), how FTD has affected my family and a little bit about the AFTD.

What is Frontotemporal Degeneration?

The behavioral form of FTD is characterized by loss of empathy and increasingly inappropriate social behavior.  People gradually become less involved in routine daily activities and withdraw emotionally from others.  Unusual behaviors may include swearing, overeating or drinking, impulsivity, repetitive behavior, sexually inappropriate behavior or deterioration in personal hygiene habits.  The person may show little awareness of these behavior changes and little or no concern for their effects on others.

How has FTD affected my family?

My mother didn't always love the holidays, particularly Christmas.  For years it brought back feelings of loss, but once her kids were grown, on their own and beginning to have children of their own, my mom’s love for the holidays really grew.  I remember one Christmas around 2000 when she had lit about 15 Christmas trees in and around their home.  She had a tree decorated with crystals, one with cars, one with Hallmark ornaments and one with handmade ornaments.  She hung lights and decorated just about every corner of the house.  Christmas dinner was carefully planned a good month in advance.  We incorporated traditions from both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family with the same courses each year.  My mother always made Italian Buttered Rice among many other delicious foods for our Christmas meal.  There was an abundance of food with plenty of leftovers for the next day.  My mother’s love for the holidays filtered over into each of our families.  We loved seeing our mother so happy.  Then in 2010 we almost ran out of food and she didn't buy gifts for the new grandchildren and she just really didn't care.  FTD took away her emotional connection to the holiday and family.  We scrambled to find last minute gifts.  There isn't much open on Christmas day in a town of only 2,500.  It was a nightmare.  By the time the next year rolled around, we were tasked with making sure that didn't happen again.  My mom participated in the preparation of the food but she mostly supervised the cooking.  She was only able to decorate one tree with the help of the grandchildren.  Each year has gotten progressively worse.  Last year at Christmas as we were sitting down to eat, we didn't realize that she was stuffing her mouth.  She choked right there at the table in front of everyone.  Fortunately we were able to come to my mother’s aid, but we have to always be on our toes when food is involved.

How can I help?

The first thing you can do to help is to learn as much as you can about FTD and the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration or AFTD (www.theaftd.org).  The AFTD is a not-for-profit organization founded to advocate for more funding into the causes and treatments of FTD as well as provide caregivers and patients with a dependable source of accurate, reliable information and support.  The second thing you can do is make a donation to the AFTD.  Your support helps to promote and fund research into finding the cause, therapies and cures for FTD.  Please go to http://theaftd.givezooks.com/grassroots_fundraisers/alice-s-angels-food-for-thought-2014 and make a donation during our 2nd Annual Food for Thought week, October 5-12.

Italian Buttered Rice - Serves 4

1 cup long grain rice
1-2 T butter
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp marjoram powder
6-8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms or 2 ounce jar of mushrooms
2 cups vegetable, chicken or beef stock
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a 10-12 inch heavy oven proof skillet that has a tight fitting lid over medium heat.  Add the rice and minced garlic and cook stirring frequently until the rice begins to turn golden and the garlic is fragrant.  If using garlic powder, add it with the herbs in the next step.

Add the herbs, mushrooms and chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.  Taste liquid and add salt if necessary. 

Cover and place in preheated oven.  Cook for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed.

You can serve this dish with chopped fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese.  Or you can do what my sisters and I used to do and drizzle a little Italian vinaigrette on it.

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