Monday, September 30, 2013

On a Roll, Cabbage That Is

Dear Friends, 
Don't tell anyone, but I am afraid of the dark. As in petrified, paralyzed by fear - I would actually put my fear of the dark in the classification of a phobia. It's been on my mind lately, as I have been traveling a lot - in hotel rooms....alone - barely able to sleep for the soft glow of the TV, but unable to let go of that comforting light. At home I am not able to put anything on my night stand, except my trusty lamp. I wake up in the middle of the night, panic stricken - flailing for relief from the suffocating darkness. After so many broken candles, tumbled over books and magazines, you learn your lesson. I blame my intense fear on an early childhood viewing of the horror movie, "Pet Cemetery." (Might also be connected to my fear of toddlers) (BTW my mom is either laughing or crying or both right now - after 18 years of her hall light on all night)

A thought occurred to me last week when W caught me ridiculously sprinting from the dark kitchen to the safe light of the hallway. 

What if I lost my ability to communicate the fear that drives my bizarre flailing about at night, darting across rooms, or anxiety at turning out the final bit of light before I am safely asleep. How odd I would look with no context to my behavior. 

I share this embarrassing insight into my psyche as a reminder. We all have our fears, loves, hates, odd quirks and strange (to outsiders) rituals. These bits and pieces that make us who we are, don't disappear after a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia, and can sometimes be amplified. The one thing about our loved one with Alzheimer's that is guaranteed to change is his or her ability to verbalize all of this to us as caregivers.  

Next time you are faced with a challenging caregiving situation, imagine me diving through a dark hallway, like a running back straining for the touchdown, reaching for the saving grace of the light switch. First, I hope you laugh a little at this mental image, but most importantly, remember, what is my loved one trying to communicate - what fears, loves, quirks, rituals would illicit this kind of reaction? Or diffuse a challenging situation. 


  • Early Stage Programs: In November we will begin a new educational series - Living with Alzheimer's - designed for individuals in the early stage of Alzheimer's and their care partners. It is a 3-part series, that people can jump in and out of as needed. We will be hosting these workshops in our Charleston, Morgantown and Parkersburg offices. For more information call, 800.272.3900 or email
  • Support Groups This Week: Click here to see a list of support groups happening near you. 
  • WalkTOBER: I can't wait to see everyone in Lewisburg and Morgantown for Walk to End Alzheimer's!! There are already 49 teams registered for the Morgantown Walk!! Fingers crossed for beautiful weather! If you haven't registered your team, it isn't to late! Visit,
  • CMS Decision on Amyloid Imaging: This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handed down their long awaited decision on the use of amyloid imaging in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. They disappointingly upheld its earlier preliminary decision to only cover brain amyloid imaging under the "coverage with evidence development" (CED) policy. This means CMS will not cover the cost of brain amyloid imaging, except in the context of approved trials. The Alzheimer's Association and a coalition of scientist and physicians have been at the table with CMS, working tirelessly to gain ground on their earlier decision. While this setback is disappointing, this technology is not going away, and we will continue both our scientific and advocacy efforts to connect families with the best in diagnostics. Read our full statement here.
  •  Angel's Perch screenings in West Virginia! Friends in Marlington, Bridgeport, Lewisburg & Martinsburg get your tickets now - Angel's Perch is coming your way!! I also happen to be privy to some very exciting info that will be announced about the film in the next few weeks!! Stay tuned! 

On A Cabbage Roll
If you are new to the Dish, each week I include a recipe as a reminder to take care of yourself, whether it is cooking, going for a walk or a few minutes of meditation - take care of yourself.

I know you've been there before - 1lb of ground beef, staring at you, nagging...use me today or I am going bad. Generally the ground beef nag turns into easy tacos. But, tonight I got a wild hair. Wonder how hard it is to make cabbage rolls? 

So I researched recipes, and I didn't really have all of the ingredients for any of the recipes - but I had most of the ingredients for most of the recipes. They turned out pretty darn tasty, not to mention plenty of left overs! I can't wait to try this recipe again, but hide more vegetables in the filling (similar to my meatloaf).

The Sauce: Start with a glub or so of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. Add in tomato puree, I had frozen puree on hand, but 1 can would work great as well! 

Add in 1/2 of a yellow onion, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, 3 tbs of brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Prep the cabbage! Cut out the core (carefully, knives are dangerous people!)

Place the entire head in a big, tall pot of boiling water. 

Filling Time: Start with the pound of nagging ground beef (or 1/2 pork, or chicken, or vegetables would be good too!) Add 1/4 cup of rice, the other half of your onion, 1 tbs of thyme, salt, pepper and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes. And two eggs.

Followed by breadcrumbs (I use 2 pieces of wheat toast, ground), add a few big spoonfuls of your sauce. (Hint: add the sauce after you have mixed everything! Holy how it is hot when you put your hand in there!) Mix by hand (more like mix by squishing it all together)

It is amazing, the leaves of the cabbage just peal right off! 

The assembly turns out to be a piece of cake. Add a 1/3 to 1/2 cup of your mixture into a cabbage leaf, then fold one side over. 

Fold it again!

And again!

Neatly tuck all of your cabbage rolls together, like they love each other! The cover it all with your saucy goodness!

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees - then dive in!

Until next week!
Laurel K.

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