Precious Time

Precious Time

This journey with cancer has been full of contradictions. I’m nearing the end of almost five months of chemotherapy. I can’t wait to be done with this part of the journey, yet this time has been valuable and there is much I want to do while I’m still relatively weak. I’m learning that I’m able to access parts of me, new thoughts and feelings, and see openings for change I never imagined. There is at once a clarity and an ongoing exploration of who I am in this, most vulnerable state, that is precious and not to be missed.


For one, this process has emboldened me. I walk around with my bald head and about six remaining eyelashes, looking like what I used to be afraid of . . . .but no more.  We are all so much more than meets the eye and we are all, I’m sure of it, capable of embracing and managing far more than we think.


Since chemo will come to an end, thankfully, maybe I can learn how to access this realm even when I’m physically stronger. That is my hope. Change, even when you see the path forward, doesn’t necessarily happen quickly. Surgery and ongoing treatments in the new year will probably afford me plenty of time to continue this introspection and growth and you can all remind me of this post when I’m sick and tired of being sick and not so circumspect!


This time of relative isolation and fewer outside demands has also afforded me plenty of time in the kitchen and I’ve felt (surprisingly) creative. I’ve developed dozens of new recipes and because of my chemo-altered tastebuds many of them are bright and spicy and strongly flavored, cutting through the chemo funk!


Those new recipes and hundreds more are in the Seasonal Recipe Collection. A subscription to the collection also makes a nice gift to any cooks, or aspiring cooks. . .


Spicy Cabbage & Sausage Fried Rice


This is a simpler fried rice than my typical ones–no eggs, no soy or fish sauce–just ginger, garlic, pepper, cabbage, pork and rice, basically. It’s extra pretty with red cabbage but delicious with red, green or savoy.


Serves 4


2 tablespoons oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 scallions, white and green parts, separated, all thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Szechuan pepper corns, ground in a spice grinder or mortar (or scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a pinch though the Szechuan pepper is really what makes this so good)
4 ounces pork sausage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes or 1 Serrano chile, minced
6 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups cooked rice, cold (fresh, hot rice is too sticky for fried rice)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges, for serving


Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the onion and scallion white parts and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, Szechuan pepper, hot pepper and cook for another minute. Add the sausage and stir well and cook for about 2 minutes, still over high heat. Add the cabbage and a few generous pinches of salt and stir well. Cook for 3 more minutes. Add the rice and mix in well and cook until heated through and crisping in places. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in cilantro and scallion greens and pass lime wedges and serve immediately.

14 thoughts on “Precious Time”

  • I love your spirit and loving attitude. It’s so great to see you travel on this arduous journey with courage and grace.
    Fondly, Chris

  • Carol Boutard says:

    Can you tell me why you chose red cabbage? I wouldn’t be surprised if is is because you were just “cooking with what you have”, but maybe not? I find I lean towards the green cousin from familiarity and I don’t really know when I might do better with red. I am asking as your ingredients often guide my planting selections. Glad you are beginning to feel stronger, my dear. I look froward to celebrating Spring with you. It’s just around the corner.

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Yes, I had a red cabbage to use up. I, like you, tend to favor the green and savoy, but am really enjoying red more and more and it was particularly beautiful in this preparation. I wouldn’t go so far as suggesting you change your planting selections though–or maybe just through in a few!

  • Stephanie Peters says:

    It comes as no surprise to us that you are using cancer as a way to grow and expand your awareness, but it is awe-inspiring all the same. Hugs to you from Stephanie & Dan.

  • Renee niquette says:

    Meet Christmas to you and your family
    Thank you for sharing, your words are inspiring.
    The chemo tastebuds are definitely a challenge.
    Then for my son it was also and is all about texture.
    Wishing you a speedy return to health and a long remission.
    Luv & hugs Renée

  • Beautiful introspection Katherine…. thank you for articulating it so clearly. While I”m not struggling with cancer or chemo (now anyhow… who knows the future?), what you say has a lot of resonance for me, just in terms of how I approach life…. So nice to learn a little, along with you ….xoxo love to you…. T.

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