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Candidly Yours

Candidly Yours

5-Star Cauliflower & Potato Curry

October 2, 2021

This was so delicious, I’m giving myself a 5-Star grade!

Inspired by the delectable array of food served at my stepson’s recent Punjabi-style wedding, I pulled out my Indian spices and had a go at it! This is vegetarian and can be served over rice or with Roti bread; it can be a side or a main.

Here is how I made it:

Par-boil, about 5 minutes, 1 large, diced potato along with 3/4 head of cut cauliflower. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp. Ghee or oil and sautee …
1. 5 Green cardamon pods
2. 1 Tsp. Cumin seeds
3. 1 Bay leaf
4. 1 inch cinnamon stick

Now add

5. 1 medium, chopped onion.
6. 3/4 tsp. Turmeric
7 3/4 tsp. Garam masala

Sautee until the onion, et al, s really cooked. Now add …

8. 1 Can pureed, chopped tomatoes (I use saltless) OR 3 pureed fresh tomatoes
9. 1 Tsp. Dried Fenugreek leaves
10. 1 Tsp. each Salt & Black pepper
11 1/2 Tsp. Red pepper flakes or 1/4 Cayenne, to taste.
12. 1/3 Cup chopped Culantro (or Cilantro)
13. 1 Cup heavy cream OR cream substitute

Allow ingredients to simmer, lid on, for about 10 minutes.
Now, add your vegetables and simmer 5 more minutes.
Garnish with fresh Culantro or Cilantro & serve over Rice, with Roti bread, as a side or as a Main

Candidly Yours

God Whispers & the Cost of Kindness

February 26, 2019

One of my favorite, cut-to-the-quick sayings is: “There’s something about that person I don’t like about myself!”

Whenever I catch myself judging, criticizing or feeling squirmy about another person’s public behavior, (and I truly hate to confess how often this happens), I receive what some call insight, but what I have come to refer to as a “God Whisper.” A whisper might sound soft, but this one comes with a harsh slap of reality!: ”Elizabeth, there is something about this person you don’t like about yourself!”

Today, after work, I caught  a talk show episode concerning a mother with two severely mentally ill children. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that instantly, this woman was intolerably unlikeable:  She was intense, overbearing, over-talking, interrupting, interjecting, occasionally arrogant and it was clear that the host, every invited professional, as well as the entire audience were crawling out of their seats with dislike for her and her grating, annoying way of interacting.

Well, who could blame them? She was simply unbearable. The entire, collective  virtual “we” who were watching all wanted to smack her upside the head and shout “JUST STOP!  JUST STOP! PLEASE … JUST …  STOP!”

And as I barked at the television over her cringeworthy unbearable-ness, I got ‘the whisper:’  “Elizabeth. There is something about this woman you don’t like about yourself!”

And with that eye-opening, I began to look at her differently.

I wondered if anyone in the audience noticed that her exasperating, frenetic yammering came from her fear of not being heard, for years, and the utter exhaustion of having been in the trenches, advocating daily for her children — however ineffectively and probably to the point of maximum frustration — 24/7, for close to two decades, without a break, had made her lose all self-awareness.

Beneath her exhaustive, irritating manner was an even more exhausted mother who had lost her balance, lost her perspective, probably lost most of her friends, and was utterly desperate.

I recalled a time in my life, when I had become stretched beyond reason, while opening a restaurant overseas with my then husband, working often 20 hours a day, literally 20 hours a day, whilst also raising and fretting over our twelve year old whom I had never previously left alone, whom I had never been late to pick up.

Additionally, I was marketing the business, training staff and so much more while maintaining a home, plus school and social schedules, cooking, and managing some astonishingly ugly, local expat gossip in a small tourist retirement town. All that with a smile on my face and coupled with a complete unawareness that I was maxed out beyond sanity. 

I had little awareness of how overworked I was or of how I appeared to the world at large at any given moment. There were few or no resources left to manage emotions, crises, day-to-day pressures, so much so that once, while standing at a neighbor’s gate, waiting to purchase some fresh eggs, I fell asleep, on foot, at her gate. I literally fell asleep standing up.

I had arrived at a point where I couldn’t maintain calm or have any sense of self-presence. I had become the woman I watched on television today.  I remember being judged harshly, unfairly, even with cruelty, and that was painful and difficult to manage.

Still, and  in defense of those who were unkind, I understand that high levels of apparent stress do not attract kindness from the casual observer just expecting a nice meal at your restaurant or understanding from  your son’s seventh grade teacher expecting a normal, parent-teacher review.

 

There were some who judged me so harshly, even tried to destroy our livilihood,  but who never guessed that on top of all the above, I was in a constant state of worry over my husband’s life- threatening illness, and illness we lived with, quietly, for twenty years.

Today, that time in my life is a memory I can hold without bitterness. It is also a good “note to  self” to take time out to consider the circumstances of the other, sometimes a very grating “other,”  and to put kindness before judgment, to look beyond the tantrum, the rant, the rudeness, or the ugly, and to consider the pain or stress, the frustration and perhaps the need that might lie beneath.

Of course, I can’t expect strangers to pause in the name of compassion, but  I can require it of myself. And when I fall short in this area, I am reminded by the “God Whisper,” reminded to stop and ask: What ails you? Can I help?

We can run around on a high and mighty and happy plain, often, and that is to be celebrated. But what goes up, eventually falls down and we all know, or will know, that pain and stress are great equalizers. It is my belief that real life catches up with even the luckiest of us, eventually. We are all standing in the same leaky boat, just not always at the same time.  I am reminded of another saying:  It costs nothing to be kind.

 

Candidly Yours

DID YOU KNOW? REFLUX MEDS CAN CAUSE DANGEROUS DEFICIENCY

March 31, 2018

Secretly, I thought I might be crawling toward death and I wasn’t at all sure why. I had been so depleted, for months, and I was quietly frightened enough that I began writing the names of my loved ones on the backs of treasured  heirlooms in case I kicked the bucket in the night.

Looking back, so much was going on but I never strung the issues together. It just felt like my body and my mind were going down like a slowly but inevitably sinking ship.

I’ve always had insomnia, even as a small child, but for months, I had been almost unable to sleep at all and, if sleep came in spurts, it was never for more than 90 minutes, a couple of times in one night.  Yes, I had been living and working on about 3 hours of sleep for over a year.

Even sexier,  I had developed creepy, wrestlers legs. And to add to the fun, my muscles started going into painful spasms, my  eyes felt like they had grains of sand in them but a trip to the eye doctor and liquid tears did nothing.  The heart was palpitating, I was dizzy, my hair was falling out and my joints hurt so much that I could hardly walk in the mornings. Beyond dragging my sad self to work, I couldn’t get out of bed or get enthusiastic to do anything at all. Not even dance, my favorite activity, ever. Ugh. This is not the stuff for an alluring dating profile page!

Those who know me, know I generally a happy chick,  high-strung for sure, even hyper, but still a happy lady and this helped me be able to  ignore for too long, or hide all the above from anyone around me. Then, on Christmas Day, my stress level and my ability to cope with the regular bustle of guests was so overwhelming I felt embarrassed. I was a freak!

Blessedly, a few weeks into the New Year, a shocking blood pressure attack forced a reluctant visit to the doctor where it was suggested I have my vitamin B12 level checked.

B12 is an essential vitamin. Without it, one can develop pernicious anemia, neurological issues, even Alzheimers. It is detrimental to go without B12 yet oddly, it is not part of a routine blood panel. Still, it is easily fixed if caught in time.

In countries that follow a mostly vegetarian diet, such as India, B12 deficiency and it’s consequences, is common. Vegetarians and vegans are told they must  take a B12 supplement or consume foods fortified with the vitamin if they are to maintain  healthy levels. A close friend of mine became vegan when in her 20s. After a time, she began passing out. It was discovered she was B12 deficient and today, decades later, has a permanent loss of feeling on one of her little toes!

Since today, B12 is easily obtained in supplements and  fortified foods such as cereals, vegetarians can make a good case for giving up meat altogether.  Still, doctors tell me that it is best to obtain essential vitamins through diet over supplements, if possible, and B12 is naturally provided only in meats, eggs and dairy.  Okay … well … Ahem! I eat meat, eggs and dairy. So why, then  did I become dangerously deficient? And could this be happening to you? Well, if you suffer from acid reflux, it just might!

What many don’t know, and what no doctor told me 12 years ago when I began taking acid reducing meds daily,  is that people who suffer from acid reflux and related issues, and who are on a prolonged regimen of proton pump inhibitors such as Nexus or Prylosec, can develop a B12 deficiency because the stomach is not producing enough acid for absorbtion. This is likely how I became deficient. If you are taking reflux meds, think about having your B12 checked with your next blood panel.

I am happy always to cater to my vegan and vegetarian friends. But whenever I have tried to go without meat, it just does not feel right for me. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and I am conscious about where my meat is produced, how it is fed and slaughtered. Ditto for eggs. But I just don’t feel well when I remove it from my diet completely. And it begs, for me, the question that follows…

If Vitamin B12 is not readily available in plants, were we ever intended to be 100% vegetarian, as some claim?  If our creator had wanted us to abstain from meat altogether, would he not have provided B12 in plant foods?”  

I started taking high doses of B12 daily, without fail. You can get your B12 in a regular vitamin but for me, a sublingual or liquid delivery is more efficient because of  malabsorption in the stomach.  After just a few days, I began to sleep! Within 2 weeks, or even sooner, every one of the symptoms described above had begun markedly to disappear. Within 4 weeks, I was out dancing again! And my stress level is noticeably down and manageable.

Today, I take a medium dose of B12 daily. About once a month, I add liver to my mostly Paleo diet.To make liver taste almost like a good filet mignon, I soak it for about an hour in milk which helps remove that metallic after-taste.  I lightly dredge the meat in Quinoa flour, then I simply sauté in butter with a little salt and pepper. I top it off with caramelized onions. Delicious.