Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

After a month in the ICU, I was moved to the surgical floor, where I spent the second month recuperating. Still hooked up to many drains, tubes, suction devices and food being administered by IV, I was unable to eat anything by mouth. I passed the time binge watching old TV shows. I was only just able to focus my eyes after all the anesthesia left me out of focus for weeks. On October 18th, the wonderful hospital staff secretly made and hung banners to throw me a 60th birthday party in my room, in lieu of the dinner I was supposed to be having in Lyon, France. My sister, nieces, sons, husband and cousins came bearing gifts (no cake) and got me outside for a breath of fresh air on a beautiful fall day.

The chief of the rehabilitation floor came twice to assess my ability to handle the necessary amount of rehab. Both times she said I was not a candidate, as I could not cope with the amount of rehab they require for admission to their unit. Their suggestion was to receive rehab at a nursing home. Only one would take patients on parental (IV) feeding. I steadfastly refused the option. I wasn’t leaving the hospital until I could go home. I had several unplanned physical therapy sessions when the staff had the time to fit me in. They started by standing me up. Next time I used a walker in my room to take a few steps. After several days I could shuffle to the to the bathroom myself! Then I ventured into the hall with my walker. The next day I used the cane. The day after, I walked once around the floor only holding my IV pole. Then another lap, and another, day by day.

The last thing standing between me and my home was being able to walk up 10 steps so I could enter my house. I asked the physical therapist to take me to the stairwell to practice. I pulled myself up those steps – and kept going, forgetting I had to also come down. Twenty steps. I could do it. Suddenly, talk of a nursing home ceased. I was going to be able to go directly home!

Still unable to take in anything by mouth, I was sent home on Halloween with a central line for IV feeding and antibiotics. Drains and tubes came along too, but at last I would be in my own bed after two long months! It was both exhilarating and scary to be removed from the care I still depended on. Visiting nurses and infusion specialists set me up with home care, teaching both my husband and I how to manage the feedings and medications. It was hard to be in a home environment and unable to participate in the usual activities: showers, meals, outside activities, social visits. At times, the hours were endless. My husband became nurse and provider, a job he did with amazing grace and care.

To be continued . . . . . .

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Why do we get more sentimental as we age? Is it the feeling (and reality) that our time is growing limited? Is it a yearning for days gone by? Or is it a combination of these factors?
I am joyful beyond measure for the time we get to spend with our family. It is so rare now to have them all together at the same time, and usually not all to ourselves. With friends in their lives, we are sharing our boys with other people. I am happy about the kinds of people they choose to be in their lives, and enjoy the young adults sitting around the dinner table having mature conversations. I love the amazing meals my son and his friend turn out for us to enjoy. I love the physical closeness phone calls can’t provide.
Then why am I also sad?
It’s because I know this time is limited.
It’s because they will be wretched from us once again – each parting as difficult as the first.
It’s because I do not know when we will next see each other.
It’s because we will be moving away from where they grew up, and when they go “home” maybe it won’t be where we are moving to.
It’s because all parents carry guilt about what they didn’t do even though the outcome was good and there is no logical reason to feel that way.
It’s just because sometimes.
So, now I will put it aside and go back to enjoying the time I DO have with my sons and their friends. They need help in the kitchen!

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I missed my kitchen. These are strange words coming from someone who used to struggle to think of what to make for dinner. But somehow (a little late for my kids unfortunately), I have come into my own, in the kitchen. It helps that I love it since we did a mini renovation, and made it more pleasant to be in it.

But the real pleasures are found in the zen of preparing the food, knowing what is in the dishes prepared and those with whom we share our meals.

So after being away nearly 3 weeks, I got busy in the kitchen. It was around Passover, and I was not hosting a seder, but for some reason (maybe its because I was returning from Israel?) I felt like cooking traditional Jewish food. Chicken soup, brisket, potato kugel, matzah brie, vegetables, lots of vegetables, charoset, hummus from scratch (from dried beans), cabbage salad, beet salad. My fridge runneth over.

I entertained many friends, sharing meals and stories, and lots of laughs. That’s the best part. With 11 of us crammed into my small kitchen, nothing could be more comfortable. There is nothing like the warmth of a kitchen filled with food and friends.

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This is the motto of New Orleans. It means “Let the good times roll.” And let me tell you, they mean every word.

I’ve been to New Orleans twice before. I came for business, but always left time for pleasure. It would be difficult not to have any appreciation for the city unless you never leave your hotel room. If you eat and walk about anywhere in the French quarter, you will experience the tastes, smells and sounds of the city. Venture out past the tourist areas and you will experience her soul and rich history. There is no denying the city’s rich roots in jazz. It is the birthplace of the great legends of jazz as well as a spawning ground for today’s great musicians.

Music holds this town together. Street musicians play for the sheer enjoyment and hope for a few bucks. So profound is their need to make music, they make their meager livings from appreciative passers-by. If America’s Got Talent were to go out into the street any night of the week in New Orleans, they would find a treasure trove of talent worthy of recording contracts.

The city also attracts artists and misfits of all kinds. On one evening out, we saw many unusual artists including a man in 100 lbs. of feathers (on a 90 degree day).

Travel can open your eyes to so many things. Food, culture, even odors you could never imagine. In an Emily Dickinson quote, I see the way the people of New Orleans view life:

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

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Every year for maybe the past 10, we have had a summer party. Knowing how busy everyone is, we send out a save the date well in advance, followed by (still a good amount of time in advance), the actual invitation. We got a few responses right away, from those who knew they had other engagements. The week before the RSVP due date, we sent a reminder to RSVP. Again, a few more replies. The day of the RSVP, we sent another reminder, and again, got a few replies. Throughout this process, some let us know they had other engagements that day and they would stop by if they got back to town in time, or such.

My husband asked me to call those I had not heard from. I said I would not. I felt it was rude that they ignored five emails. I didn’t feel I had to beg. I got a call today with regrets. I told them I assumed they weren’t coming since I hadn’t heard from them. Sometimes it seems that people wait until late in the game to see if they get a better offer. I say, “if you don’t know that you want to be with us, just say no from the get-go.”

If one or two people kept us hanging, it probably wouldn’t matter, because I always over prepare (It’s the Jewish in me). But when nearly a third do it, it has significant repercussions. So I either make enough and have leftovers for two weeks or run out of food (never an option, so I’ll be eating these salads until I am sick of them).

Don’t people know what it takes to prepare for a large party? I spent two full days shopping and cooking. As a newly minted nutritionist, I wanted to offer healthful foods. My husband spent a full (very hot) day preparing the pool (which no one will use anyway), cleaning the deck, the barbecue, putting out chairs, etc.

Is it too much to ask that people just let you know their intention? Yes, it bugs me and strikes me as rude and inconsiderate. Some people will not be on future invitation lists.

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Artisan is a noun that describes a person who is skilled in a trade, especially in making things by hand. As an adjective, it has been used to describe high-quality, distinctive products usually made in small quantities or to special order.

In the past years, use (misuse or overuse) of this term has exploded. Suddenly, every product is deemed “artisan” and we are supposed to believe it is of superior quality. You know a word has been commoditized when Burger King and Wendy’s, snack chips and drinks have artisan varieties. It’s a shame that mega-corporations usurped a term that means crafted in small batches, which they surely do not do.

Yet somehow, they have convinced consumers that their foods are upscale and they are selling those potato chips to “sophisticated” buyers.

It’s a shame that many people can’t differentiate the true artisan foods from the commercially processed garbage in a prettier package. It’s still a package of processed food stuff.

But my big gripe here is less about the quality of the food than the dilution of a term. As a “wordie” (yeah, I made that up and it doesn’t work as well as “foodie”), I take offense when big business takes the liberty of redefining the English language.

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It continues to amaze me how those of us with similar interests find each other. Whether by reacquainting with old friends we have lost touch with, friends introduced to us by others, or those we meet online – somehow, we are drawn to each other like magnets. I had lunch for a second time, with a woman introduced by a great friend from my last job. He is a great networker of people. He understands potential mutual interests and chemistry, and just puts people together. He connected us over our interest in healthy eating and we are already exploring ways to bring this to the people. But we got started on a stream of consciousness discussion the other day and found many other mutual interests, or shall I better put it, similar character traits. We are both idea people. We have both come up with brilliant “inventions” that we did nothing about, later seeing them on the market. (We both apparently lack the follow through gene.)

Then recently, when I sent out a press release to all my friends and colleagues, about my new business service called “Lighten Up!” (http://perspectivesoneatingforhealth.wordpress.com/lighten-up-a-service-for-food-establishments) an old friend got in touch with me and we have spent hours discussing how to get her club to adopt a healthy menu. We are talking about it while walking together and brainstorming how to make this happen.

And now, I am getting a sudden increase in readership of my 2 blogs, from places as far away as north of the arctic circle, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland! My new Irish contact is an artist as well as chef, so we have these two things in common. As the world gets smaller and technology allows us to connect with people we could never have done in the past, it opens up all kinds of possibilities. I am grateful to be living in these times. The things we can do because of technology (mostly because of Steve Jobs – a shout out to his genius) and the resources we have available to us, never fail to amaze me. We can find people like ourselves, share interests, ideas, resources, recipes, opinions – anything – with people from every corner of the planet. Now is that not just a wonderful thing?


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