Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for the ‘Backstory’ Category

I’m not going to complain. And I’m not going to go into too many details, but the past year has been rough. My roommate had a bunch of medical issues she was ignoring come crashing down on her such that she spent from mid-September to early November in either hospitals or rehab, and had to have a cardioversion and a TAVR procedure to replace her aortic valve. She’s also a full-on diabetic, including needing insulin shots four times a day. While in the hospital, she was sufficiently discombobulated as to give me incorrect instructions re our diabetic cat, with the result that we nearly lost the cat to a massive insulin overdose.

However, this all seems to have scared her enough that changes have started being made here. One of my friends, Lisa Braun, is spectacular at organizing and Getting Things Done. She and I got the roomie’s room dug out while she was in the hospital and the rehab. Then Lisa helped me start organizing the kitchen and the living room. Then she ran across some folks that were moving who had ten Ikea Billy bookcases (including a corner unit, three regular bookcases, two glass-fronted bookcases, two narrow open fronted bookcases, and two tall cupboards). She arranged for us to buy the bookcases and to get them moved here, so we now have enough bookcases for all except the cookbooks and food books, which are still being organized. During the process of reorganizing the living room, I found a dealer who specializes in old prog rock, so I was able to sell a lot of my records (I have most of the stuff on my computer in iTunes, anyway). This netted me a fair sum, which went into getting some stuff to organize my room more. We are now working in my room. We started with the goals of unearthing my desk and desk chair; organizing my art supplies, moving my Peloton bike to the living room, getting rid of the old desk and file cabinet that were here when I moved in and moving the small barrister bookcase to the roomie’s room so she can put her TV on it.eventually, we may need a handyman to take down the blinds the clown the roomie’s mom hired put up wrong when she moved in here and properly put up sets of blinds on the windows in our bedrooms, the kitchen, and the front room. If he can also mount a rod for a proper shower curtain, that would be a Very Good Thing.

I continue to have a yoga teacher come to the house twice a week, but I am getting to where I am starting to consider going to Integral Yoga and using the year of free yoga classes I won at the last dinner they held. And I am planning to get back on program and lose the weight I gained while I was so sick for the last few years.

SO keep an eye on this space, and we will see what twists and turns my life takes. Oh, and there probably will be lots of pictures of the house reorganization over the next while.



As most of you know, there are three measures by which I know I’ve taken back my life from the health issues of last year: walking, cooking, and blogging. Slowly – far too damned slowly – I am doing all three.

Yesterday, I went to a most excellent housefilk at the home of some friends. Not only was I able to sit up for the whole thing, but I was able to get the rollator up the front steps to their building by myself (normally, Sue or Marc drags it up the steps, while I use the banister to haul myself up)! I was also able to walk to the car after the housefilk, and survive the car rides to and from Josh and Lisa’s place. I was even able to walk around their apartment a little without using any support at all.

But that’s not today’s accomplishment. The roots for that actually go back to a job I had from 1977 to 1987. Back then, I worked for Rialto Management Company, a small real estate firm in midtown owned by Ruben Shulsky. One of the best parts of that job was the little kosher meat restaurant across 30th Street and halfway between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. It had no name, but had some of the best food I had ever eaten. One of my favorite dishes there was cholent – a beef/bean/barley stew. Cholent is one of those things observant Jews eat for Shabbos lunch, because it can be started on Friday before sundown and kept on the top of the stove over a very low heat until they can turn the light off after sundown on Saturday. Well, I loved that cholent, but not being an observant Jew, I didn’t know how to make it. Over the years, I asked observant friends and looked on the Internet for recipes – and there were some interesting ones – but they never quite tasted like the cholent from that restaurant. Cholent is one of those things where everyone has a slightly different recipe, usually learned from their mom.

lucys-cholent-picA few months ago, an acquaintance of mine posted about cholent in an APA we both belong to (AWA, or A Women’s APA). I asked for her recipe, and she posted it in the following collation. I started it yesterday after we got home from the housefilk, and when I tried it for lunch today it was exactly the taste I remembered! I even put it into the Weight Watchers recipe calculator and discovered it’s 5 Points Plus per 1-cup serving, which is not bad for a meal! Without further ado, here is the recipe for Lucy Schmeidler’s cholent, as written in AWA:
Lucy Schmeidler’s Cholent

1 – 1 1/2 lbs lean beef, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium large Idaho (russet) potato, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 – 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 – 10 baby carrots
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2″ slices
1 4-oz can mushrooms
1/2 cup pearl barley, soaked
1/2 cup navy or small white beans, soaked
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp minced garlic
Cooking oil
Water to cover
3-qt heavy pot

Friday morning: Brown onions in oil. Add meat, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, celery and water to cover. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. (Deb’s note: We did this for about an hour. Also, since the roomie is allergic to mushrooms, we made it without, and when she had taken what she wanted, I added the mushrooms and reheated it thoroughly.) Add barley, beans, seasonings and more water to cover. Cook covered overnight over low heat without stirring. Serve for Shabbos lunch.

So, I want to thank Lucy for helping me solve a  – to me – 35-year search!

In other “taking back my life” news, my surgeon says that I am doing amazingly well – far better than she had expected. I went to lunch with the roomie to a place we often order from over on Emmons Avenue, the Opera Cafe. The food was excellent, as always, and it was good to get out. I’ve also started up the fannish dinner group again, although we have been sticking to places in Brooklyn so far. Future plans include maybe doing a Monday night dinner so the Kosher Krew can join us, and possibly some weekend brunches. There are just too many great places to eat around New York City. (And if anyone reading this is in the area and wants onto the list for the dinners, please leave a comment, email, or otherwise message or call me. I’d be happy to add you to the list. Attendance is not mandatory at all; all I ask is if you are joining us on a given week, let me know in case the group for that week is big enough to need reservations.)


I won’t normally be posting quite this often, but I figured that for those readers who have never met me in person I should probably include some pictures, so that my journey so far (which actually began in April of 2009) can be noted.

This was taken about a week before I joined Weight Watchers in 2009:


This one was me at Christmas of 2009:Image

At Passover 2010:


In June 2010:


At my thinnest, June 2010, in a size 12 dress:


And, finally, this past July (2012), a few days after getting out of the hospital (photo credit ©Ariel Winterbreucke, 2012):



As I noted in my first post when I rejoined Weight Watchers this time I am a little lighter than last time.  However, it took about 2 1/2 years to get as far as I did last time, and I still had a way to go to hit goal.  I know that it will take as long as it takes, and that I need to do this — primarily for my health, but also for my looks — and that I got myself into this situation, so I’m the one that can get myself out of it.

As long as I’m posting, here are today’s reasons for wanting to lose weight:

  • Look Better
  • Feel better
  • Get off or lower blood pressure, asthma, and cholesterol meds
  • Be able to walk more
  • Be able to walk without the cane
  • Become a Weight Watchers leader
  • Look more professional
  • Be healthier in general

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