One cigarette away; vegetables with oomph

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Barn kittens wondering what took room service so long.

So many addicts in recovery seem so affected by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. No way to tell if it’s more than usual at the passing of a talented young person with as many problems, or more, than talents, but everyone appears gobsmacked by the 20 years sobriety preceding his final tailspin.

Those of us who slide down every rabbit hole in the landscape aren’t surprised. Just warned. Again.

In early 1968 I quit a heavy smoking habit. It wasn’t that awful even though I was consuming several packs of Marlboros a day. A) I’d just found out I was pregnant and had been ordered into bed rest and b) I had some god-awful respiratory thing which I always did when I smoked (duh!).

Fast-forward 7-1/2 years, yes, that’s right, 7-1/2. I was experiencing an extraordinarily difficult goodbye and thought if I just had one or two of my friend’s unfiltered Camels, it would go easier. Within a week I was back up to 3 packs a day.

We can’t fast-forward here because the smoke makes it too foggy to see. It took more than 4 years, my skinny older daughter’s constant respiratory problems and pale skin to quit again, which I did on Sept. 29, 1979, but who’s keeping track?

More than 35 years and I still dream that I decide to just have one, it’ll be OK. I still know when I inhale the glorious smell of someone’s tobacco smoke outdoors that I could be a big-time smoker again in a wee jiff. (Of course, I’d also have to run a meth lab to support it — when I was smoking, my Marlboros were “only” $10 a carton.)

So I finally know that, down deep where it counts, and I don’t smoke ever. I know the same would be true of me and more than 1 glass of red wine in the evening. So I don’t do those things. Ever.

The damnably hard thing about a food jones, though, is that you can’t quit eating. You can give up television, gambling, video games, I guess even the Internet, but you have to eat.

So we eat good food, healthy food that we can visualize going to work in our bodies, stoking our inner furnaces, polishing our hair and strengthening our bones. When I was pregnant with our youngest daughter, I spent countless moments visualizing that tee-insy spot of humanity putting down “roots” inside me just like the wild daisies that were blooming along the roadsides then. It worked. She was 23 last month.

I’m especially fond of vegetable dishes I can look forward to, always feel as though I’m really doing something good for me. When you slim down this Kroger recipe with 98% fat-free condensed soup, reduced-fat sour cream and Cheddar, and when you eat just one serving, this casserole is so good. Green bean and corn tastes at their sweetest. In fact, Stoic the Vast asked if there were sugar in it — there isn’t.

Green bean and corn casserole

16-ounces frozen green beans, thawed and drained

2 cups frozen corn, ditto

1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded Cheddar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup French-fried onions

Heat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients except the French-fried onions. Put mixture in oil-sprayed 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with French-fried onions. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes or til bubbly. Makes 6French-fried onions make best topping ever.

French-fried onions make best topping ever.

servings (also important — don’t turn it into 3!).

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