Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for May 2013

Friday was the ex’s birthday dinner, and we had a very nice one with friends at the local Indian place. Saturday, I was feeling like crap. The roommate ordered in some Chinese soup for me, with rice noodles, and that helped a bit. Sunday, I did n’t do a heck of a lot – got caught up on some non-food stuff, but was craving doughnuts. The roomie went and got them for me, but only half of the usual order, for which I was grateful. Today, I was working like a dog to get some articles in on time, despite the tool for writing them being down. Didn’t eat much – breakfast was an omelette, lunch a roast beef sandwich, and dinner was some pasta with eggplant and a Jamaican beef patty (it was even a Tower Isles patty – the original beef patties I became familiar with back in college in the 1970s).

Only in NYC would a Jewish girl fron Queens have Jamaican beef patties be one of the comfort foods she learned about in very early adulthood…..


Wednesday was the ex’s birthday, but I was working and he had plans, so we got together with the roomie and a friend, H, for some good Indian food.

We love trying new places, and had actually been planning to try a new Mexican place in my neighborhood, but they were having their official Grand Opening last night, complete with mariachi band.  So, what to do?

Recently, the ex and I found a really great Indian restaurant here in Brooklyn, called Gandhi, about half an hour away by car, so we headed there (I could eat Indian food six days a week (the 7th day would be for sushi).

We ordered channa poori (spicy chick peas and a poori bread), a Peshwari naan (naan bread with fruit & coconut), and a plain paratha for the table. Soup was coconut for everyone but me – I had a wonderfully creamy, tomato-based mushroom soup. I love their coconut soup, too – it’s not overly sweet to the point of cloying the way some Indian places make it – but I wanted something different.

For main dishes, I had seafood korma, which was yummy, even though it had rosewater in it (rosewater and I do not get along). H had the mixed Tandoori platter; the roomie had tandoori shrimp, and the ex had tandoori salmon, which I really must order the next time we go there! It was delicious (he gave me a taste).

Dessert was easy. The ex and I had rasmalai – cheese patties in a sauce that is creamy and rich (and is the base for their ice cream, which we need to try one day). The roomie had the Indian rice pudding, and H had gulabjamon, which I used to love until I became sensitive to the rosewater in the sauce.

So, all in all, we had a very nice dinner, with great company.

Last fall, My friend Nicole tried out for Master Chef. She has blogged about it here.

I went with her, took pics, and stood in line with her and another friend, Conroy, who also came to cheer her on.

She really wrote a good recap of her experience, and has some interesting links, so you should go and read it.

I was watching the above program yesterday, and the chef they were profiling was David Chang.

Much to my surprise, one thing he was raving about was instant ramen.  He even produced a dish of the stuff with a homemade cheese sauce.  Needless to say, having a fondness for ramen I had to try it.

Deb’s Version of David Chang’s Ramen with Cheese and Black Pepper: Take one package of ramen, of the flavor of your choice (I used the last of the packages of chicken flavored ramen we had). Add one or two wedges of Laughing Cow cheese (I used the original Swiss flavor). Add black pepper to taste. Add one to one and a half cups of water. Microwave on high for three minutes. Stir. Microwave on high for another three minutes.  Let stand a few minutes to thicken. Eat.

Having tried it that way, I think it would work really well with konnyaku (yam) noodles), which would certainly be better for me than the pre-cooked packages of ramen because I could control the sodium better.  And konnyaku noodles don’t take very long to cook, either, so I shall have to think about it for future yumminess.


I made my friend Sharane’s Bavarian Red Cabbage recipe on Sunday.  She found it in a recipe book and it was from an old actor named Walter Slezak. I have no idea what the copyrights on it are, but I did tweak it a little, so I will post my version here.

Bavarian Red Cabbage


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large head of cabbage, shredded
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 4 small or 2 large gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsps flour
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 Tbsps brown sugar (I used Brown Splenda)
  • 2 Tbsps wine vinegar


  1. Heat the oil in your largest skillet
  2. Add the cabbage, salt, pepper, and apples. Saut for about five minutes.  Add the chicken broth and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the cabbage is simmering, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and vinegar thoroughly.
  4. When cabbage is done simmering, pour the mixture you made over it.  Stir thoroughly to mix, and heat for a few more minutes.
  5. Plate and serve.

While the cabbage was simmering, I heated a kielbasa in the microwave.  After plating the cabbage, I cut 1/3 of the kielbasa for the roomie, and another 1/3 for me.  I sliced up my 1/3, and mixed it into the cabbage, along with a bit of sour cream (the red of the cabbage reminded me of borscht, so I figured, “Why not?”).

It was delicious.  Had the last of the kielbasa for lunch today, and a bit more of the cabbage with the pork chops the roomie made for dinner.

The part that took longest was shredding the cabbage (I basically just hacked it into ribbons) and peeling and cubing the apples. I’m glad I did those two things before I started any of the actual cooking, though, or I would have been going bats trying to get it done in time.

Anyway, I must get back to editing — for some reason this particular job, which should be easy, seems to be kicking my tush.



Yes, I should have posted this yesterday, but when I got home from dinner I was in what my friend Lisa calls “sleepy predator mode.” The food was so good, and I was so full, that I actually slept on the bus almost all the way home.

So, what was this wonderful food?

We (Lisa, Josh [her SO], Marc, Harold, Kathy, Abby and me) went to La Vie En Szechuan, at 14 East 33rd Street. Lisa and Josh had been recommending this restaurant to me for a while now, and it seemed like a nice treat given that Kathy is in town.

It’s a nice place, btw; a bit loud, and very crowded (any time one of us had to get up, half of our table had to get up and move), but the majority of the diners were Asian, which is a good sign for an Asian fusion restaurant. Other than the noise, the only real issue we had was the lighting — Abby has a health issue called photomyclonic response, which means that fluorescent lights flicker at a rate that can trigger an epileptic-style response, which she dealt with by going our for walks a couple of times.

We primarily ordered family style:  two appetizers, and five entrees, and shared according to who could eat what…in order of food crotchets (from greatest to least) we run Abby, Kathy, Marc, Harold, me, Lisa & Josh.

What we ordered:

Appetizers:  Chicken with Szechuan Pepper Sauce, mini crabmeat soup buns, fried pork dumplings

Entrees: Barley Flavored Ribs, Pan Fried Rice Stuffed Duck, Mei Shan Dongpo Pork Shoulder, Shrimp with Salted Pepper, and Stir Fried Shredded Duck with Pickled Ginger

I had a bit of everything except the duck (I can’t eat ginger – it tastes like soap to me), and it was all yummy.  We were all just stuffed enough to decide against dessert. With seven people sharing, it came out to a reasonable price, too – $21 each, including tax and tip.

If I do go back there, and I suspect I will, it will not be in the middle of dinner hour on a Friday.  I am glad I thought to call and get us a reservation in the morning — they never would have been able to seat us had I not done so.

Oh, on a different note:  If any of my readers in New York City (yeah, all five boroughs) know of any good places to eat that use either incandescent or halogen lighting, rather than fluorescent lighting, I would love to hear about them.  Our group tries to make allowances for each other’s physical issues, and I would love to find some good, not-too-expensive places that we can go to with Abby where she won’t have to get up in the middle of dinner and go for a walk outside.

See everyone Monday!

…about why I reach for comfort foods when I do.

The question was: “What makes you reach for a comfort food?”

My answer was:

“Lots of things make me reach for comfort foods: boredom, anxiety, unhappiness, anger…all the usual emotions one tries to shove down because they are not things that can be dealt with at whatever moment they are occurring. Any time there is an emotional hole it seems like food is what I have been trained to use to fill it.

One of the leaders that I like at at Weight Watchers tells the story of the kid who falls and scrapes his knee all to heck while his parents are out of the house. The kid goes crying to the babysitter, who gives him a cookie, telling him that the cookie will make it better.  The kid believes her, and instead of eating the cookie, he holds it to his knee.because he hasn’t yet been acculturated to eating things to take his mind off “bad” things like pain.

And the truth is we have learned to eat certain foods as comfort foods, to turn to them when we have feelings that we don’t want to deal with, or that are among those considered unacceptable to show under whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

One of the hardest parts of doing Weight Watchers honestly is looking at this, by the way, and realizing that when I do stuff down feelings that that is something I am choosing to do.  I’m at the point where I can sometimes decide not to do that, but sometimes I find myself eating before I’ve even thought it out and made a conscious choice.  Hopefully, I will continue to become more conscious of the impulse before I run to the cabinet or fridge, but right now, it is what it is, and I am dealing with it as best I can. And, yes, there is always room for improvement.  I’m not making excuses, just acknowledging the truth of where I am at the moment.”

And that’s mostly the truth. See, the thing is that I am struggling right now. I am not weighing and measuring. I am not tracking. I am eating what I want, when I want, and not always making the kinds of healthy choices I know I am capable of making. The result is predictable; I am gaining weight.

Do I want to lose the weight I gained back? Yes. Do I want to get back on track? I believe I do.  Then why can’t I stop doing what I know will contribute to my unhappiness down the road?  I don’t have any kind of answer to that, let alone a good answer.

I’m not looking for sympathy here; I’m just acknowledging the truth for me right now.  I’m at a loss, and I have no idea why. RIght now, I’m just hoping that if I keep being honest about what is going on, I will be able, at some point, to peel away whatever the layers are and get to the cause of how I feel, so that I can deal with it.

Right now, it feels kind of hopeless.  I know what I want to be doing, but I’m not there. I know that there are a lot of things that losing the weight will fix, including some of the health issues that are depressing the heck out of me. I know I hate the way things are right now. Robert (a WW leader) used to say that we don’t change until staying the way we are becomes more painful than changing is.  I’m wondering how much pain I will have to heap onto myself before that happens — because that’s what it feels like.

And, yes, I am mad at myself for gaining back as much weight as I did.  I know it’s pointless to do that, because I cannot change what I have done, only what I will do.  But right now it just seems very hard to do that.

Ah, well, the main thing is that I am still here, and still trying – na matter how weird or screwed up my efforts are at the moment. People keep telling me that one of my major attributes is persistence, so I am praying that it kicks in again soon.

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