Yeah, I know – it’s been way too damned long since I’ve posted. Life does that sometimes.
Somewhere around March, I realized that I had fallen into a pretty bad depression. The weight gain, the impaired mobility, the inability to get the MRI I needed, the loss of several relatives and friends all served to hit me pretty hard. I started working my way out from under, and have been coming along slowly but surely.
One thing that helped is that I have been getting more social again. That started with the 25th anniversary party for two close friends. Two adventures lie therein, btw. The first was finding an appropriate gift for our friends, which entailed a trip to Eichlers, a Judaica store on Coney Island Avenue. Being a Sunday, parking was a pain, and we ended up parking around the block from the store. The Ex held my arm as we walked there, and the kind store staff found me a chair to sit on so I could catch my breath. We got the couple a lovely Havdallah set. The second was the saga of the lock. The morning of the party, I got up, got dressed (a beautiful long dress from Holy Clothing), and was checking my email when the Roomie came in and told me she couldn’t unlock the front door. I went up front to check, and sure enough, it wouldn’t unlock. Called the Landlady, who was in the Poconos. She called her dad and sent him over, so we cleared enough space by the front window to hand out our keys so he could try to open the door from the outside. No luck there. Next step was that we removed the doorknobs so we could try to manipulate the mechanism from the inside. That didn’t work.I was beginning to think I’d have to climb out the front window to get to the party. Called the Ex, who was also going to the party, and he came by. We got the Landlord’s dad to open the side gate, and the Ex came to the back door to try to push my bed forward by pushing the door open. To do this successfully, I had to try to move the 140 lb. Peloton exercise bike that sits in front of my bed. Not fun, but somehow I managed to do it. Marc got the door open enough that I could climb over the bed and out of the apartment.Then it was down some stairs, up the alleyway, then up a bunch of stairs. We got to the venue, and it was down some more stairs, which was a bit much, but I made it. The party was lovely, and while I was out the Roomie called a locksmith, and had the lock replaced properly. So we now have a properly working lock.
Since then, I have been out on several Friday dinner missions, a Saturday mission that included a book party, then a walk of about three blocks (2 half-avenue blocks and one street block) to a local ramen place we like and knew could hold a large group, and a Passover Seder that included a climb up stairs and down the same stairs. Pretty good for a mobility-impaired person who also has sciatica. In fact, these days, the sciatica is more of a problem than the heart is.
Today was my three-month cardiologist checkup. He was delighted with my blood pressure (132/80), and even more delighted to find my heart murmur has gotten a bit softer. Best of all, at some point – about three weeks ago – my ankles stopped looking like grapefruit and have started looking like ankles again. My left ankle is totally unswollen at this point, and the right one is so slightly swollen that you have to really look to see it. The legs are unswollen, too, which is nice. I also had a bit of a walk – the car service missed the turn at East 27th Street, so I had him drop me at the corner of my block, and walked the one-third of a block to my house.
I’ve been doing the Weight Watchers Simply Filling plan since the end of March and have lost 20 lbs. so far. I still have a long way to go, and I’m still annoyed that I have to do this all over again, but I can be annoyed and be working on it or I can be annoyed and doing nothing about it…I’d rather be the former, so that it gets done. I am taking advantage of their coaching program, since I was able to book my coaching sessions with my favorite lecturer. At some point, I will be able to get around enough to go to meetings, but for now, this is working, so I am happy about that.
Anyway, that’s about where things are for the moment, so I’ll be heading off to eat breakfast. Talk with everyone again soon!
Friday night a small group of us met at Moldova, 1827 Coney Island Avenue, in Brooklyn, which is one of two branches of the restaurant (the other is in Philadelphia). A look at their menu promised a lot of dishes that were essentially the same as the Middle European foods that Marc, Mark, Sue and I had had as kids, and we had recommendations from two separate people, so we were interested in seeing if they could accommodate our usual dinner group, which I think they will do quite nicely.
To quote eattheworld.com: “I like a place that has a very obvious pride for itself. Moldova is a place like this, the people here know how to run it, they look very formal yet inviting, and the food is prepared and plated beautifully. As far as I know, it represents the only restaurant serving Moldovan food in the city, and takes this responsibility very seriously.”
The lights were incandescents, the food was excellent. The service was a bit slow, but that was because they were clearly packed. However, our table of five was able to carry on conversation without yelling, even though most of the larger groups dining that night had large numbers of kids.
The restaurant gets bonus points for a number of reasons. When we arrived, our table was ready, and we were seated, even though our party was not complete. Further, an older lady was waiting for her ride, and when it arrived, three of the employees helped her to the vehicle.
Besides the lighting, one reason we tried the place was its promise of mamaliga (polenta). We got an order of mamaliga with bacon, cheese, and sour cream for the table, as well as the smoked fish platter, which had been recommended by Lisa Braun. Both were good, although the herring on the smoked fish platter was a bit drier than we expected. The butterfish and salmon were excellent.
Marc had fried fish, I tried the rabbit (it tasted like dark meat turkey), Mark had the house special (mamaliga with sour cream and bacon, Sue had the schnitzel with mashed potatoes, and Abby had the chicken. Sue and I had dessert; I opted for the walnut stuffed plums drenched in a chocolate and wine reduction, which was nice, but a bit too sweet – even for me. Sue opted for the chocolate-backed pudding, which turned out to be a fairly huge slice of cake.
If you are planning to go for dinner, especially with a group, you should call them at 718.998.2827 to make reservations.
Posted November 28, 2015on:
Okay, I’m a little late posting this. It’s been an interesting couple of days.
The Roomie and I had decided that this year we just didn’t have the spoons to do our usual Thanksgiving feast where anyone who knows us is welcome. She’s contemplating knee replacement surgery, and my sciatica prevents me standing long enough to do serious cooking. So we had pretty much decided to just feed ourselves and the Ex. Then I found out that a close friend had been ditched for the holiday by her significant other, so we invited her to join us. Somehow, we ended up with a feast anyway, and the fridge is now stuffed with leftovers (we did send a plate home to the Ex’s wife).
What we had was a 6 lb. turkey breast, roasted to perfection by the Roomie, and the dressing to go with it. She also made some broccoli, because we know the Ex likes it. My contributions were cheesy garlic/onion mashed potatoes, two kinds of cranberry relish (one from a recipe that Christine Lavin posted on Facebook that sounded interesting, and a dark cherry/cranberry relish that took longer to set than it should have, but was delicious), and some acorn squash stuffed with butter, cranberries, walnuts, and marmalade (see first picture), as well as mini Oreo cheesecakes for dessert. Friend made her fabulous spaghetti squash (nice and plain just seasoned with a little salt and fresh pepper), and the winner dessert of the night – a banana key lime pie that had the Roomie (our resident banana-averse person) going for seconds (see second picture)! The Ex helped with the Moving of the Furniture and the Setting Up of the Table, as well as the Reaching for Things from the High Shelves (he’s 6′ tall; I’m 5’4.5″ tall), both of which were essential. I even had homemade apple butter for hostess gifts for the Ex and the Friend!
The company was, of course, excellent! We started dinner around 4 pm, and were having our dessert and a bit of conversation by 7 pm.
Given that the Roomie and I didn’t do a huge feast, and didn’t do a lot of planning for this meal, it turned out wildly beyond our expectations.
Marc, Sue, Cindy and I were in the mood for something Polish last night. In fact, Marc had a yen for some white borscht and some bigos (hunter’s stew). Normally this would not be a problem, but our favorite Polish place in Greenpoint had closed a couple of months ago. So we looked on Yelp! and found a couple of places that sounded promising. We ended up at Krolewskie Jadlo, 694 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (Phone: 718.383.8993).
(What Yelp! didn’t mention, btw, is that the Owner/Chef used to be the Chef at Nobu.)
We got parking right out front, which is a Good Thing. Te restaurant was not crowded, either. This was unusual, because when Marc and I had passed it on other occasions the lines were out the door and down the block. We got a booth right away and settled in and looked at the menu, which was varied, but not so much so as to give people menu paralysis. Looking up, we easily ascertained that the lighting was old school incandescent. Another plus was the sound level. We could hear each other with no difficulty.
The food was wonderful. Marc and I had white borscht, which came with a small side dish of mashed potatoes topped with diced kielbasa. His main dish was the bigos, which he found satisfying. I had a few appetizers, rather than a whole meal. I opted for the beef tartar (which came with an egg, capers, diced onion, diced mushrooms, and diced pickles; the stuffed mushrooms; and the bacon stuffed with plums. All were superb. Cindy had the stuffed cabbage, and a side order of pierogies, and Sue ordered the King’s potato pancakes and a crepe. Marc added a take out order of kielbasa and pierogies to bring to his wife. Prices are good and portions are generous.
In fact, the only downside to this place is that public transit to Greenpoint is not the greatest. Still, if you have a car or can go earlyish, it’s a great meal.
They apparently have a second location at 66-21 Fresh Pond Road, over in Ridgewood (Brooklyn/Queens border), but we have not tried it yet, although I won’t rule the possibility out at all, at all.
Marc, Sue, Cindy and I were in the mood for something Polish last night. In fact, Marc had a yen for some white borscht…
Well, the adventure started on Wednesday. Naomi and I took Sue (the roomie) out for her birthday. We had a lovely dinner at Teresa’s in Brooklyn Heights. We shared an order of potato pancakes (lovely and crisp – almost crepe-like). Naomi had cherry and cheese blintzes, Sue had a chicken cutlet with kasha and beets, and I had goulash with kasha and beets and a small mushroom barley soup. All were delicious, as food at Teresa’s always is. We even got parking right in front of the restaurant, which was an amazing feat!
After dinner, we tried to get to Max Brenner, then Veniero’s, then Cha Cha’s In Bocca al Lupo, but we were too late to get to any of them. So we headed back to the Mirage Diner in Brooklyn for cheesecake. We agreed to pick up the slack on Friday, when things tend to be open later.
So today, Naomi and her friend Paula picked us up and we headed to a place called Brooklyn Ice House that had been recommended by a friend who shall remain nameless. It was horrible. The dive bar was so dark that standing under one of the lights it was still impossible for the menu to be read. It was, in fact, so dark that Sue could not see the legs of my chair and tripped over one of them. None of us felt comfortable there, so we walked back to the car. On the way, we found a place, Red Hook Lobster Pound, that seems to have a great lobster special on Wednesdays. We do plan to try it, but at that point we were all starting to get hungry.
Our alternate plan took us to Manhattan – Harlem to be exact – to a place called Harlem Shake. My friend Limore Kurtz Dooley is running for Miss Harlem Shake 2015, and I wanted to vote for her. Well, we should have gone there in the first place! Outside (they have outdoor seating) the place was packed because it was such a nice night. Inside, however, there was plenty of seating when we got there. The menu is burgers, salads, fries, shakes, mac ‘n cheese — pub food with a twist. Naomi and Paula had classic burgers with cheese fries (Paula), sweet potato fries and mac ‘n cheese (Naomi). Sue had a chicken sandwich and the mac ‘n cheese. I had a chili cheese dog, a Sonoran (bacon-wrapped dog with Deep fried bacon-wrapped dog, with pickled cherry pepper-bacon relish, chipotle mayo and onions)and the chili cheese fries. Paula’s meal came with a mini chocolate shake, Sue had water, Naomi had a clear birch beer, and I had the Gertrude (a lemonade/watermelon non-alcoholic cooler that was delicious and refreshing). The food was excellent; the prices were right (mine was $20.09, Sue’s was about $14, and Naomi and Paula’s was under $40). Inside is open seating, so tables could be arranged if we want to do a group dinner up there. Further, they have vegan options and various other choices that are actually healthy, so it looks like it will be able to meet the diverse food issues my Friday dinner group has! The only downside we saw is that the lighting is shielded fluorescents. We all decided we want to head back there and try other menu items.
We tried getting to Max Brenner’s once again, but between construction and traffic that bombed out. Instead, we hit van Leeuwen Artisanal Ice Cream in the East Village, finding a parking spot just one store past the ice cream store. Three of us were pretty stuffed, so we just had two scoops each (Sue had mint chip and chocolate, Paula had strawberry, and I had mint chip and salted caramel). Naomi had a delicious looking sundae.
I grabbed a watermelon juice for the road, and we headed off to Naomi’s place so she could pick up some stuff she needed. Sadly, between construction, traffic, and various rude drivers, it took us forever to get uptown as far as the Midtown Tunnel. I suggested we take that, we did, and once we exited we had pretty much clear sailing the rest of the night.
So, the main takeaway was the discovery of a wonderful, inexpensive eatery (even if it is halfway to the ends of upstate Manhattan) that all four of us want to visit again.
I finally bought a multi-purpose cooker.
I’ve wanted to get rid of a couple of my slow cookers, so when I read on The Kitchn.com about the Instant Pot, I thought I would get one and give it a try.
Found it through Amazon.com quickly enough and, when it came, I offered my two largest slow cookers to two different friends, each of whom gave one a good home.
My first attempt was one of the recipes that came in the booklet that accompanied the pot – turkey wings braised in stock with cranberries and walnuts. There is a learning curve with this thing. The dashboard isn’t quite as complicated as the space shuttle, but there are things I need to remember to do each time I set it up. However, in my opinion, it’s going to be worth learning. The turkey came out moist and tasty (although I would have spiced it differently). My next project will be either stew or soup – not sure which yet. Not in much of a rush either, being summer.
In other health news, I’ve been dropped by Medicaid. They claim my income is too high because of the disability award. I think they counted the retroactive payment, but try to prove that…. In any event, the Medicare kicks in on 1 August, so I am learning the ropes of yet another bureaucracy. I have chosen a supplement plan that almost fits my budget (it covers a number of medical possibilities that I need to – as a cardiac patient – keep in mind). The problem is the prescription plan. The one AARP is offering requires that I use a by-mail service to fill prescriptions, although I can – in an emergency – use any of a list of specific chain pharmacies. I have had bad experiences with by-mail prescription services in the past, and I have no reason to believe they have improved over the years. I also don’t want to use a chain pharmacy. I have a perfectly good local pharmacist, within walking distance of my house and my doctor’s office. I have been using this drugstore for a decade, and I want to continue using them. So unless I can find a Part D plan that will allow me to use my regular pharmacy, I am looking at having to pay for my meds out of pocket. Fortunately, my most expensive med is $38/month, the next most expensive is $24/month, and the others are $15/month. I have discussed these things with the roommate, and she agrees that the cost of the meds is not excessive. However, I am told that I have until the end of October to choose a prescription plan, so I will keep looking.
I got some serious – for me, anyway – walking done at the Northeast Floating Filk Convention in June. Almost five days of close to or over 1000 steps. I need to keep it up, so I don’t lose the ability, but it’s hard to get myself moving.
I’ve also done a bit of decluttering lately. Spent much of Thursday shredding old papers I no longer need. On Wednesday, the housekeeper helped me tackle the last big pile of stuff in my bedroom. Laundry has been taken in, and when it comes back, I will do some more culling. I am trying to follow Marie Kondo’s dictum that if it doesn’t spark joy it goes out. I also got my sock drawer organized so I can find socks and open the drawer without problems. The next big purchase I make will be either a chest or dresser. The one I inherited from Marc’s mom is slowly falling apart. The bottom drawer is totally unusable. If I can fit it into my room, I’d love an eight- or nine-drawer dresser, with a mirror. If not, I would be okay with a five- or six-drawer chest that fits into the space my old chest uses.
So, that’s what’s been going on in my life lately — in between dealing with various friends being in hospitals. Hopefully, this month will provide a bit of breathing room.
NOTE: Image courtesy of Instant Pot
The pot of soup coming to a boil on the stove is not particularly green, except for the soup greens and extra celery, but it is rich. This pot started with some leftover liquid from the corned beef and cabbage I had made the other day. I had decided that it would be a good base for soup, so I saved it. Today, I skimmed the excess fat off and strained out the pickling spices. I put that in my French Oven, along with a package of soup greens, a cut up butternut squash (thank you, Glasser & Sands), about a pound of cubed beef, an extra onion, and two extra celery stalks. Tossed in a bit of salt, pepper, and cumin, and a box of low sodium beef broth. Added water to cover the solids, and it is now wafting a gorgeous scent across the kitchen. This is going to be soup like my mom and grandma used to make — the pot sitting and barely simmering overnight, with broth or water added as needed. I expect it will actually be a rich stew by the end of the week.
The roomie notes I’ve been on a cooking jag. Yesterday, I made chicken salad out of the leftovers from a rotisserie chicken we had gotten. Chicken salad is easy – just chop up the leftover chicken (remove the skin), add some celery, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and enough mayonnaise or mashed avocado t hold it all together. Sue says her mom, who disliked mayo, used to do it with ketchup instead of mayo. If she had told me before I had put the mayo in, I would have put a bit aside to try it. Oh, well; next time.
I also made a loaf of whole wheat bread. I found a no-knead recipe that turns out a nice, crusty, artisanal loaf using the French Oven. When Glasser dropped off some groceries earlier, I gave him the first slice, and he thought it was pretty good.
The thing is; I like to cook. Before I got sick, I used my newfound ability to turn out tasty stuff to help support my weight loss efforts. After my surgery, however, I could barely stand. I still can’t stand for too long, due to the sciatica and spinal issues, but I’m at a point where I can sit and chop things, and get things out of the cupboards. The roomie is turning into a fairly capable sous chef – handing me the stuff I need and running back and forth between me and the stove to add things when necessary.
I’ve promised my aunt that when I visit her I will do some cooking. Neither of us is rich, and my doing the cooking will pretty much ensure I can stick to my food plan. It also means I can treat my aunt to some good homemade bread – something she says she has never had.
As for today; dinner is some lovely, garlicky chicken salad on a slice of homemade whole wheat bread, and a bowl of my soup, with a bit of parmesan grated over it (I’d’ve put a cheese rind in, ala Rachael Ray, but I don’t have one to hand.)