Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for the ‘Eating out’ Category

I was hoping to have a dinner report about a new-to-us place that specializes in hand-pulled ramen and in soup dumplings, but that’s not really gonna happen tonight (although there may be a note on the order the roomie is bringing home for me).

At dinner last Friday, I was sitting next to one person who says she didn’t know she was getting the flu, which attacked her pretty violently Saturday morning. I didn’t know she was sick until two days ago. When I started getting sick on Tuesday, I just figuredit was stuck energy from all the internal growth work I’ve been doing. That happens, and you just get through it.

Wednesday, she sent me an email that she wasn’t joining us this week because she had awakened Saturday with the flu. Thursday, I had the electric blanket on “4”, which I never do, and it barely felt warm. Asked the roomie for the thermometer and, lo and behold, I had a temperature of 101.2. I called the woman and asked what the onset symptoms of her flu were, and they matched mine. Lovely. She kept insisting that I could not have gotten it from her and must have picked it up elsewhere. However, this chain of events is math that even a mathophobe like me can figure out.

Yes, I am sure that she did not intend for me to get sick. I really don’t think most people go around trying to make others lives miserable (well, except maybe my sister, who prides herself on doing just that). What is really annoying me, however, is her continued insistence that she could not have been the source of my flu.

I have an old friend, Naomi. We know each other since 1972, and have each done our share of stupid-ass things over the years, to which the other’s response has always been “I’m gonna kill you, then we’ll do lunch.” The reason this works is that both of us are willing to look at and own the stupid-ass stuff we do.

Anyway, the roomie is going to bring home some soup dumplings, some duck ramen with hand-pulled noodles, and some braised duck for me so I will be able to report on the food if nothing else.

In other news, I got a smaller rollator, and I fit into it! This new rollator weighs about 15 lbs. less than the old one. The roomie was able to carry the whole thing, in the box, from the front door to my room, and it does move easily between the rooms of the house. I gave the old one to a friend for his wife, as a backup.

So, whinge and flu aside, it’s been mostly a good week.




There is some very good news this week. I spoke to my surgeon, Dr. Soriaya Motivala, on Thursday. She says that I do not have to wear the bone-growth stimulator anymore and that I can start using my Peloton exercise bike again, so long as I go slowly and do not overreach.

In other good news, I dropped six pounds this week, so I am cautiously optimistic that I am getting back on track. Wednesday, I decided that on days that I’m not going out I will go back to tracking my food for a while. but may switch to “Simply Filling” on days that I am going out. (I did track last night’s dinner – it was pretty easy to do since I planned what I was going to order before I left the house.

Dinner last night was wonderful. We ate at an old favorite, El Gran Castillo de Jagua, at 355 Flatbush Avenue, which makes some of the best Dominican dishes around. I had the fillet of salmon with a side order of sweet plantains. I did sneak a bite of Marc Glasser’s mofongo with pork (mashed plantains, usually with some meat or fish added). For a change, I managed to get through dinner without ordering any soda. The attendees were Marc Glasser, Cyndi Cascanti, Joe Sullivan, Sue Levy (the roomie), Maury Kestenbaum, Chuck Hancock, Ariel Winterbreucke, Mark Blackman, and me. Joe was kind enough to drive Marc, Sue and me to Marc’s afterward
deb-lucys-carrot-stewOkay, I promised I would post the carrot stew recipe. Let me start by posting what Lucy had to say about it that inspired me to make it:

“I’ve started adding what I call ‘carrot stew’ to my repertoire. The name comes from a picture book we had when our kids were small, The Tawny, Scrawny Lion, in which a hungry lion encounters a fat little rabbit, but before the lion can gobble him up, the rabbit invites the lion to come home with him and share a dinner of carrot stew with him and his five fat rabbit brothers and six fat rabbit sisters.  So this lion goes home with him, thinking that 12 little fat rabbits will make a better meal than just one, and the rabbits throw carrots and onions and mushrooms and some other vegetables and some fish into a pot and when it’s cooked they share it with the lion and then serve bowls of berries for dessert. And afterward the lion walks home, whistling to himself in the moonlight.”

Lucy and Deb’s “Carrot Stew”


Frozen (pre-cut) or fresh veggies

(I used frozen spinach, 2 diced onions, a bag of baby carrots, a can of new potatoes, 2 ribs of celery, pre-cut bagged zucchini and butternut squash, and canned mushrooms)

1/2 cup pearl barley

2.4 lbs of salmon, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

tarragon, to taste

dill, to taste

Auntie Arwen’s Ultimate Garlic Insanity, to taste (Auntie Arwen has a shop on Etsy, and her spice blends are magnificent and reasonably priced.)

Water to cover


I swear this recipe is pretty much fool-proof. You just put all the ingredients into a large pot, cover, and simmer until the fish is cooked and the vegetables are tender. It is a very forgiving recipe. I made the whole recipe, without the mushrooms, then added them after Sue had taken her portion, then reheated it until the mushrooms were also warm. Cooking took about two hours, and the resulting stew is wonderful – even after being reheated four days later for today’s lunch.

The recipe is also incredibly Weight Watchers friendly: only 3 Points Plus for a one-cup serving.

Last week, I made a commitment to Robert, my WW coach, that I would meditate at least once a day. He suggested that I use the free trial at Headspace to get started. Even though I have done meditation many times in the past, I figured I’d give it a try, and I love their method, so I have added it to my routine (I don’t talk about this much, but I try to remember to meditate twice a day already). I actually like meditating; it’s refreshing to take a little time to not have my brain running around like a madwoman. I’ve also noticed that on days when I do take the time to meditate, I seem to have less trouble reacting to things that happen.

So that’s where things are today.See you all next time!





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.

Johns-Pizzeria-in-New-York-NY-Times-Square_Outside-300x225 Another great place to add to our list of fluorescent-free dining place in and around New York: John’s Pizza of Times Square, 260 West 44th Street. I’ll let Abby’s LJ entry explain it:

“Table for eleven at a theatre district pizzeria:

It started to rain as I got to John’s Pizza, 260 West 44th St., just a block from Times Sq. The northernmost entrance to the A train station was just at the corner. Definitely qualifies for New York, Fluorescent Free. It used to be a church. New York murals on the walls and a lovely stained glass cupola upstairs that looks amazingly like pizza slices. Special Guest Star was Robert Osband (Ozzie) up from Florida on a special mission. Two pizzas (one meat, one veggie) were ordered and a dozen conversations barely heard; ham radio, Revolutionary War re-enactors and personal distance walking records across NYC. Having dinner on Thursday night again harkens back to the old days of NYUSFS.”

johnspizzeria2 Back to me: We were at the double table under the stairs. The food is excellent. I had some of the soup (lentil with bacon), the spinach salad, a slice of the meat pizza, and a delicious dessert called a coppa mascarpone. Sue the Librarian had the spaghetti Bolognese and said it was delicious. Cindy devoured her chicken marsala. Desserts were tasted by several people – in addition to mine, Sue had the chocolate souffle with gelato, Nina had the pyramid (chocolate mousse), Fred C had the cheesecake. Nancy had the tiramisu. Sue had regular coffee, Nancy and I went for cappuccino (it was delicious). The lighting was acceptable to our resident photomyoclonic disorder sufferer. Even better, they were able to easily accommodate eleven people without a reservation (you need to make a reservation for 15 or more people). The pizza was reasonably priced: the meat pizza came to $3.57/slice and the veggie pizza was $3.25/slice. The wait staff was very helpful, bringing extra plates, bowls and spoons so that the salads, soups, and dessert could be shared. The one downside is that they only do pies – no slices – so go with a few friends or be prepared to take home a lot of pizza.

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.

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!

Freelancers Union

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