Jackie Mason noted that Jews view the world differently. You can clink here to listen to him in the background while you read this post. Non-Jews return from Europe with pictures of buildings. Jews come back with pictures of cake. This observation was from almost 30 years ago, long before food porn and Instagram.
Sally and I took a cruise in 2008. There were several memorable moments, but one thing gets mentioned more often than anything else – lobster macaroni and cheese. Sally was served this decadent side dish one evening and it made quite an impression. I don’t recall the evening. I don’t think I even tasted it. But lobster mac and cheese might be the only reason Sally would go on another cruise.
I’m not making lobster anything since I keep Kosher at home. Macaroni and cheese is also not part of a low carb diet. Up for a challenge and dedicated to resolve any unfulfilled needs, I decided to surprise Sally last night. Here is my version of a Kosher low carb seafood mac and cheese.
Shirataki Macaroni and Cheese
1 Package Tofu Shirataki Macaroni
1 Cup, loosely packed Fake crab meat
1 Cup Shredded cheddar cheese
¼ Cup Parmesan cheese
¼ Cup 2% Milk
1 T Almond meal
2 T Roasted red pepper strips
¼ t Garlic salt
¼ t Parsley
Butter to grease pan
- Preheat oven to 350
- Butter a glass 8×8 baking dish
- Shirataki must be rinsed thoroughly in warm water. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and cook the noodles for 2 minutes. Drain, return to the pot, and place it back on the stove. Low setting.
- Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Pour into the baking dish and cook for 20 minutes.
Plate and serve with a tossed salad.
How did it turn out? We don’t have a Holland America or Royal Caribbean brochure in the house.
It was the spring of 2003 and our country was rushing to war. Our elected leaders, such as our Vice-President, Dick Cheney, were anxious to invade Iraq. The Sunday morning talk shows had Mr. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell explain why we had to invade Iraq. The key was Iraqi development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The British and other allies were ready to invade. The French weren’t. The French had doubts about WMD and whether this particular fight at this particular time made sense. Incensed, Mr. Cheney’s Republican allies in the U. S. House of Representatives pushed through a meaningful bill. Under the leadership of Bob Ney (R-OH), French fries were renamed Freedom fries in the three House office building cafeterias.
Freedom fries were a nice touch. It made the easily self-righteous on one side feel like they had taken a meaningful stand. Of course, the other side simply snickered and viewed this as further proof that they occupied the intellectual high ground. I remember telling Jeff, my business partner, how much I envied the certainty of both sides. The anti-war protestors KNEW that this invasion was a foolish waste of lives and treasure. Cheney, et al, KNEW that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms as we rid the world of the danger of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. I didn’t have the luxury of certainty. The invasion and the elimination of Iran’s natural enemy didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t have access to the information Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld received.
I didn’t know.
Try that. No one will hear you. Say it out loud. I DON’T KNOW.
We all seem to have an opinion on every issue, as if we know. But we don’t know. There are a few areas where each of us actually do know, where we are expert, but they are few and far between. And in our current political climate we choose sides based on our predetermined alliances with little regard to actual facts.
I have been asked about the Iran Deal. As the resident Jewish guy in some of my circles, it is assumed that I am against the deal because Netanyahu is against the deal. In other settings I have been asked to defend myself and the deal because I am the known Democrat. And the truth is I DON’T KNOW.
It is easy to ignore most of the “experts” and elected officials on this issue. We all know who was going to endorse the deal sight unseen and who was going to vilify it. And we also know that if the President were a Republican the endorsers and critics would be just as vociferous, just reversed. They just aren’t credible anymore. And me, I DON’T KNOW.
I wasn’t always this cynical. It took the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to get me to this point. Let’s be clear, much of the official Republican opposition is total BS. Huge portions of the law are directly descended from Republican proposals. And various Republican leaders from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney would have supported a Republican president (preferably them) pushing through this law. The leadership gets this. Obamacare is simply a rallying point and a fundraising bonanza. But the base isn’t in on the joke.
But this is my area. So when I read the proposals from Congressman Paul Ryan, or Senator Orrin Hatch, or the latest fluff from Governor Scott Walker, I know what I’m looking at. Since Representative Marcia Fudge’s office told me that she was still undecided while she was trying to stage a press conference announcing her support of the PPACA, I’m not going to wonder about her future positions on the issues. Their votes, yeah or nay, are already counted. I can use this as a litmus test. If a politician persists in bullshitting and grandstanding on healthcare, why should I believe that they can be trusted on other issues?
So when presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson states that Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened to this country since slavery, I tune out quickly. There is a reasonable limit to the cynical exploitation of the ignorant.
We enter the political season with our eyes wide open. If your Facebook posts are cluttered with negative, over-the-top references to the Obamas and this week’s unflattering Hillary picture, don’t be surprised if you don’t convert anyone to your particular politics. You’ve already borrowed the pictures from the people who agree with you and have been dismissed by those who don’t. If you are still describing Dick Cheney as Darth Vader and quote from memory Molly Ivins’ book Shrub, then you need to remember what John Lennon said on the subject.
Our country faces some serious issues and finding the right team to lead us is going to be quite a challenge. The answer on Iran. I DON’T KNOW. The questions as to who should be our next president? I REALLY DON’T KNOW.
I don’t want to go back to where I once was. Doesn’t that describe the alcoholic who knows exactly how long he has maintained sobriety? And that applies to the former smoker who remembers his last cigarette. And it certainly applies to me. I remember when Dr. Kent told me that I was too heavy and every step I took to drop about 25% of my weight.
I don’t know the struggles of the alcoholic. I quit cigarettes on January 1, 1985. Never went back. And I choose, every day, to not go back, to not be overweight again.
There is no guarantee that the diet process I developed would work for anyone other than me. Might. Might not. I have fielded numerous requests for my low-carb recipes. My most ardent followers have Type 2 Diabetes. They have been told to cut out white flour, sugar, and unnecessary carbohydrates. That would be my diet.
Even the most disciplined amongst us would prefer to not be tempted. You don’t offer an ex-smoker a cig. One should not pester a non-drinker to join you for a beer. And me? I confess that I spend way too much time fending off pasta and breaded chicken.
I went to a restaurant Friday afternoon. The broiled fish came with French fries. I asked the server what I could have instead of the potatoes. He proceeded to offer me red skins, hash browns, or a baked potato. Then rice. He finally remembered that I could have more vegies.
My client, laughing through the entire exchange, remarked after the server left that “He thought that you didn’t want THOSE potatoes”.
It is a constant struggle, a lot of effort, and requires total commitment. It takes discipline. And I realize that you may not want to hear, again, why your regular lunch companion will not be joining you for a glass of wine or the lasagna special. And if it helps, I apologize.
But I don’t want to go back to where I once was.
For those of you following along at home, which appears to be the safest place to be, minor traffic violations now appear to be punishable by death. I watched the video of the last moments of Samuel DuBose’s life. The camera was conveniently located on the shooter, a University of Cincinnati police officer who had stopped DuBose, age 43, because his car lacked a front license plate.
I asked Sally if the dealership had mounted her front plate. She had driven the last three months without it. With that resolved I found time to get to the Toyota dealership. I’ve been driving my new Avalon without a front plate since June 5th. Not anymore. I’m writing this from the dealership’s waiting room.
How have we come to this? Or worse, has anything really changed? Are we just finally seeing a more complete picture of our society?
I watched the Sandra Bland arrest. That could have been me. Really. I can be sarcastic. I can be edgy. I wear both my heart and my contempt on my sleeve. And I might not have been able to hide my disgust of the officer’s tactics. There are days when I am just not in the mood for chicken-shit power games.
My immediate reaction while watching the Sandra Bland video was shock. Then relief. After all, I don’t expect to ever pass through Waller County, Texas. I’m not booking flights to Alabama. I’m not running to Mississippi.
DuBose was killed in Cincinnati.
Too close to home. And yes, I am the guy in the picture. And if you see MIDDLE AGED WHITE GUY, cool. But as a Jew of Ashkenazi heritage, I have always identified as Other. And there has never been a shortage of television preachers, politicians, and even my childhood teachers to reinforce that perspective. And Other is Other. I realize that I can pass as part of the majority. I just have to keep very quiet.
The police officer (I won’t name him) who shot Samuel DuBose was wearing a camera. The camera didn’t stop him from shooting DuBose. The camera didn’t prevent him from falsifying his report. The camera didn’t make him a better cop or a better human being. No, the camera limited him to only one victim.
Dash-cam cameras and policy body-mounted cameras won’t solve every problem or bring back the dead, but they are an important step. We need to protect the police from false claims and we need to protect the citizenry, all of us, from abuses of power and fatal errors.
Fixing a taillight shouldn’t be a matter of life or death.
Dave, I had blood in my urine, but the doctor ordered a colonoscopy.
My PSA, a debatable test, is elevated and now I’m about to become some doctor’s science experiment.
Dave, they basically treat me like I’ve got cancer and I have to prove that I don’t.
The three client have several things in common:
- They are all men
- They are between the ages of 55 – 65
- This is their first real contact modern medicine
It has been over 30 years since I left Prudential. Officially, I am no longer a sales manager and trainer, but I still mentor and coach a number of agents. Last week an agent, two years in the business, asked me to help him. He has yet to find his niche and his employer is only interested in applications. I told him that there ae two things to remember:
- Our job is to solve problems.
- Most of our clients look like us.
When I was a young agent, most of my clients were in their twenties and thirties and I hoped to be introduced to their parents. Now most of my clients are in their fifties and sixties and I hope to be introduced to their children.
And that brings me back to those three guys. I’ve spent thirty-six years listening to women discuss fibroid-this and cyst-that, buy guy issues have been few and far between. That is all changing.
Blood pressure pills and cholesterol medications are so commonplace that few of my clients fight the initial diagnosis. And that stint on the high school JV football team, 35 years ago, gets the blame for the need of a knee replacement, not the 35 extra pounds they are now carrying. But Type 2 Diabetes, prostate issues, and blocked arteries are the male wake up call to middle age and mortality.
Worse, the message is often delivered callously and with little regard to this being the patient’s first exposure to the medical industry. I am used to hearing female clients tell me that their doctors don’t ask questions, don’t listen to them, and don’t encourage them to voice their concerns. I’m now hearing the same complaints from the guys.
The doctors, especially primary care physicians, will tell you that the fault lies with the hospital administrators who limit the time the doctor has with each patient. The other villain is the new electronic coding that forces the doctors to focus on their computer screens and the little boxes they need to check.
My message is the same to both my male and female clients – Stop the assembly line and threaten to get off.
Force the doctor to focus on YOU. Ask questions. Lots of questions. And most of all, remember that we aren’t machines and they aren’t master repairmen. We are all human beings. We have feelings, weaknesses, and strengths. We need to give the medical providers their due. And they need to give us respect.
Cleanliness is next to godliness? Did Moses appear before Pharaoh with a rod or a mop? Can my Christian friends confirm that Jesus turned the water into Clorox? Did the Children of Israel wander the desert for forty years in search of the land of milk, honey, and 24 hour laundromats? I think not.
The line “cleanliness is next to godliness” does not appear in the Bible. Sure there are plenty of places in Leviticus that detail how someone can become unclean, based on what you eat, touch, or discharge, but the stated goal is to return to a state of clean.
Look instead at Genesis. Day 1 G-d creates the heavens and the earth. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4. Everything is orderly and on schedule. In fact, He is so organized He can take the seventh day off and rest. Timeliness is next to godliness.
And being late is a sin.
The salesman mentioned that I would receive a survey. He wanted to make sure that I saw the email, opened it, and answered it the right way (all superlatives). I met the salesman’s boss. He let me know that a survey was coming. He verified my email. Did I know that it was important that I took the survey and gave them top marks? OY. I hate these silly surveys.
I received a letter from the business a week later. The envelope contained a thank you letter and a printed copy of the forthcoming survey. All of the questions had been helpfully answered just in case I had forgotten how wonderful the buying experience had been. They felt compelled to remind me how well I had been treated.
The survey finally arrived by email on Friday. I would have deleted it had I not promised the salesman, the only truly positive part of this whole process, my participation.
I dutifully checked the boxes. There was no point in providing a nuanced opinion or an honest answer. These are Pass/Fail, all or nothing tests. The business is judged a failure if all of the answers aren’t off the charts positive. But, the survey was incredibly long and I started to read the questions. I was supposed to check that I strongly agreed with a series of statements. Did I strongly agree that I love the item I purchased? Officially? Yes. And I was coerced into confirming that I now feel better about myself because I had made this transaction.
They’re screwing with us.
Knowing that these surveys are total BS, the companies are now extracting embarrassing answers from us. We are being punished for being nice.
I’m glad that my business doesn’t engage in this foolishness. Can you imagine purchasing a life insurance policy and getting a survey? “Tell us, Mrs. Jones, do you love Prudential?” Hell, I’ve been doing this for thirty-seven years and I don’t love the insurers.
And what happens if you change policies? Would the insurance company call you?
Hello, Mrs. Miller? This is Bupendra Smith with Intrusive Life. How are you today?
Fine. How can I help you?
We’ve just been alerted that you have lapsed your policy.
I no longer need it.
Mrs. Miller, you told us that you loved your policy. Your policy with Intrusive Life made you feel better about yourself. It completed you. Do those words mean nothing to you?
I think that I am done with surveys. I’ll threaten to answer honestly if anyone ever insists that I complete another.
This blog serves many purposes for me. As per my daughter Jennifer, it is first and foremost my opportunity to vent. I also see it as a chance to open conversations about politics, religion, and relationships. Some of those conversations take place in the comment section and on Facebook. Some of the most interesting exchanges take place in private messages and emails. But I still view the recipes as one of the most creative aspects of Again? Really? There are a surprising number of people struggling with Type II Diabetes or weight issues. Finding new and tasty low carb meals is a key to long term success.
These recipes take a lot of time and effort. It starts with a dinner that I would like to recreate as Kosher Low Carb. I then research recipes online, regular and low carb, and print five or six. I study the recipes for similarities and contradictions. That normally gives me enough of a foundation to create my own concoction. I carefully measure all of the ingredients and write down everything.
Last night was to be a new dinner night. I had all of the ingredients and I was ready to create. Sally was working late and would be home by 9:45. As all of you know, timing is everything. And in the case of chicken, the difference between moist, perfectly cooked and flavorlessly dry. It was not to be. Due to a late customer and other issues beyond her control, she didn’t walk in the door until 10:20. And yes, even though I grew up in retail and know better, I still took it personally. The good news is that this dish is idiot proof / time proof / delicious. In my case I took the chicken out of the oven, let it sit on top of the counter, and put it back into the now cooling oven for the last 15 minutes prior to serving it.
Low Carb Coconut Chicken
1 lb. Boneless Chicken Breast
½ C Unsweetened Flaked Coconut
½ C Almond Meal
½ t Garlic Powder
½ t Dried Parsley
½ t Smoked Paprika
- Line large baking sheet with parchment paper
- Rinse chicken breasts, trim excess fat, pat dry with paper towels
- Cover breasts with waxed paper and pound to uniform thickness
- Slice into 1/2″ strips
- Beat egg and place into glass pie dish
- Dump the dry ingredients into a one gallon Ziploc bag
- Dip all of the chicken into the egg and then place into the bag. Shake well.
- Place the chicken on to the baking sheet and place into the refrigerator for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Bake 40 minutes
I served this with humus and cauliflower. And I felt better once I realized that the wait hadn’t ruined the dish.
As noted previously, my favorite traditional magazine is Esquire. I learn something new from each edition. I am always entertained. The current issue has Scott Raab interviewing astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. At one point they were discussing Dr. Tyson’s previous interest in the New York Knicks, but that was a long time ago when the Knicks were a much better team.
SR: The Knicks haven’t managed to rekindle your interest?
NDT: No, and even if they were winning, I don’t know that they would. It was just a moment in time. But I like extreme excellence in anything. I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Jordan. Who didn’t?
SR: I didn’t, but only because I was a Cleveland fan. I’ve since come to recognize his greatness. Back then, I took it personally.
NDT: If you have a cosmic perspective, you don’t take anything personally.
It’s funny what we notice. My friend, fresh from attending her first meeting of an entrepreneurs’ organization, told me what she had observed. “They seem to have a chip on their shoulder”.
Melissa (name changed) has been a business owner for over twenty years, but her modesty prevents her from seeing herself as an entrepreneur. Her naturally positive attitude set her apart from so many of her peers in that room.
Melissa is an entrepreneur and her business history, both successes and failures, mirror the experiences of the men and women at the meeting. The difference isn’t financial. It is attitude.
How or why does someone become an entrepreneur? This list is hardly exhaustive and can’t possibly include all of the paths to business ownership. It is just a start.
- Some of us, from our first lemonade stand, just knew that we were happiest when we were the boss.
- Some were downsized / fired / let go one time too many, couldn’t find a job, and were forced to create their own jobs.
- Some were born into a business that became theirs whether they really wanted it or not.
- Some toiled for a boss or corporation that never fully recognized their value and never rewarded them, financially or emotionally, for their efforts and expertise.
- And of course, some of us just make lousy employees.
What unites so many of us is that feeling that we have succeeded In Spite of our parents, our siblings, our friends, the banks, the government, etc… There was always someone dying to play the devil’s advocate. No matter what you achieved, awards received, goals set and met, there is always a helpful family member sure that you could get a real job if you just tried.
Spend a few years playing Me Against The World and you will probably have a chip on your shoulder.
But that is only part of the story.
The other part is Victimhood. We have become a nation of victims. We have elevated our personal grievances, great and small, into world class trauma. We conflate our losses and brushes with danger so that our successes will be even greater. Whether it is Brian Williams or Hillary Clinton under fire or homophobic pizza shop owners worried about a deluge of gay wedding catering opportunities, Americans have decided that we are under attack.
And if we really are under attack, if our values, our system, our very way of life is endangered, then we need to be defended. Americans tend to take things their illogical extreme. Thus even if it is the government that is supposedly attacking us, we still want the government to defend us.
There are people, even mainstream political candidates, who think that the Second Amendment allows them to amass store houses of weapons to use in some future battle with the government! And because the Supreme Court has begun the process to recognize the validity of same sex marriages, we have the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.
Talk to a videographer or a florist about your upcoming wedding. As they are discussing the services that they will be providing and the charges for their time and efforts, they make it clear that they are an integral part of your ceremony. We want pictures, flowers, and cake. They want an acknowledgement that it really isn’t a wedding without them. So now some, a precious few, are saying that they can’t sell their services in certain situations because it would make them complicit with something they find sinful. Crap. They have inflated their value to such a point that they are shocked when so few people care what they think.
Providing the flowers at a wedding is no different than providing the flowers to a funeral. Does the presence of your bouquets mean that you are positive that the deceased is heaven-bound? Did the family review the deceased’s charitable activities and church attendance with you prior to your acceptance of the order? Was the same information shared with the caterer?
There are now businesses advertising on Facebook, etc… that they will not be serving members of the LGBT community. I will not provide links. I do not promote hate or stupidity. These business people are luxuriating in their victimhood. They want everyone to know how brave they are, how firm they are in their convictions, and how quickly you can donate to their gofundme site.
But what about the other victims. Not the baker. Not the photographer. Not even the 70 year old florist in Colorado, so dug in on her position that she may end up losing her business due to her stubbornness and the people egging her on. No, what about the other victims, the gay couple. It is a shame that in 2015 you can never find anyone to sell you flowers, take your picture, or make a cake. It is so hard, since there is no way to order anything online or from another service provider down the street, that the moment you pick a service provider they had better buy in on everything you want to do.
I expect everyone to accept me, or else!
Well no one is universally accepted. Not you and certainly not me. And there are any number of reasons for someone to not like me or who they may think I am. And in the past I have chosen to withhold my services from those who didn’t meet my standards.
I was sitting in the client’s Mayfield Hts. home. It was about 20 – 25 years ago, at a time when every case helped to pay for dinner. I had worked hard to get the couple issued at a reasonable rate. The negotiations were difficult and I was proud of the results. The woman looked at me and said, “That’s pretty good David. Thank you. Do you think you could Jew them down a little further?” I said that I thought that this was the best deal that they could get but that it would be up to them and their next agent to discuss that. She must have realized that I had just fired her as a client as I began to pack up my papers. She told me that she didn’t realize that I was Jewish and apologized if she had offended me. I thanked her for the apology, but let my decision stand. I never talked to her or her husband again.
Is that legal under the Indiana law? Can I make a decision to not do business with someone due to my religious conviction (Assholes aren’t Kosher!)? I don’t know. I never considered myself a victim. I just took action. Now Melissa (remember Melissa?) might think that I, too, had a chip on my shoulder. I don’t think so. I simply stood up for myself when the need arose.
The solution, as is so often the case, is simply respect. Respect to honor our differences. Respect to accept that others see, believe, and feel differently than us and that we don’t have to change our perspective, we just need to acknowledge the validity of theirs. Just a little respect…
Pizza is the first casualty of a low carb diet. I have been on this diet, this lifestyle change, for almost twelve years. I have no regrets. None. Since my goal has been to not eat any unnecessary carbohydrates, I still indulge in a beer now and then, an occasional breaded chicken, and even ONE slice of pizza once or twice a year. I’m disciplined and careful. You won’t see me at Geraci’s grabbing a beer and a pizza any time soon.
This recipe comes to you through the miracle of Facebook. A friend (Deb Cowher) of a friend (Paul Kelly) posted a picture of her low carb pizza. It looked delicious. I told her that I had tried the cauliflower version. Her crust was made with cheese and eggs. She graciously shared her recipe and a few tips. And, she sent a lot of support and encouragement.
This is my take. It reflects my tastes, my need to make it Kosher, and what I happened to have in the refrigerator. Please use this as a jumping off point. Be creative. And don’t forget to share.
Pizza for Two
Preheat the oven to 450
Line a medium cookie sheet with parchment paper
1 ½ C Mozzarella
½ C Colby/Monterey Jack
2 T Grated Parmesan
A few shakes of garlic powder, basil, and oregano
Whatever you’d like!
½ small onion, sliced
2 mushrooms, sliced
½ C sauce
½ C ground fake burger (Morningstar)
A little roasted red pepper, sliced
- Mix the crust ingredients together and pour onto to the pan. Form into a crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Gently sauté the onion, mushrooms, and meat.
- Pull the crust from the oven, cover with sauce, the balance of the cheese, and the other ingredients.
- Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes prior to cutting. Serve with a tossed salad.
We were able to pick up the pieces. No fork required!