Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Mom Belly Diet

Since April 5, I've lost 1.5 kilos or about three American pounds, almost painlessly. I saw the need to lose them while trying on sweaters at the Eileen Fisher outlet in the East Village. I would have looked great before developing The Mom Belly, which in my case means eight-to-ten pounds of extra flab retained after three C-sections and a few chocolate bars. I was with a sympathetic friend who revealed her diet secret. It's got a low-carb element, but it's not like most low-carb regimes.

For the first time in my life I've been able to follow a diet. That diet, my friends, I will now share with you:

Breakfast: Anything you like. Really. I'd recommend going healthy as opposed to jelly doughnut, and have gone relatively healthy myself. Here are some breakfasts I've had while losing weight:

(1) Oatmeal (half cup dry oatmeal with cold water and teaspoon salt stirred in, cooked until warm and smooth) with a banana sliced over it, and about half a can of sweetened condensed milk. Plus coffee with a half cup of hot milk.

(2) Oatmeal with about a half-cup of fresh sliced strawberries, heavy cream, and sugar. Plus coffee with a half cup of hot milk.

(3) Banana bread (find the recipe elsewhere on this blog)--two or three slices, with butter or a butter substitute, plus coffee with a half cup of hot milk. And sometimes sugar in the coffee

(4) One or two large blueberry pancakes made in a not particularly health-conscious way, that is, I do use white flour and two eggs, plus maple syrup, plus coffee with a half cup of hot milk.

Even you folks who don't eat breakfast will feel like eating it on this diet--I did, after the first day or two. 

Now for lunch and dinner. With lunch, cut carbs in half--if you're used to a sandwich, use one slice of bread only. So not much pasta, rice, potato, bread, or pizza crust. Actually, I've pretty much eliminated those from lunch, so here are some of my lunches:

(1) Salad made with prepared mix (comes in a little envelope, you add a little olive oil, maybe a tablespoon, and a teeny bit of water. For Germans--Aldi or Knorr brand salad dressing is fine, even though it has an infinitesimal amount of sucrose in it). Then add hunks of Gouda or Feta, plus a few olives, or fresh avocado, or both; add slices of ham and hard boiled egg, tomato, bell pepper. 

(2) One large avocado, halved, with the juice of one whole lemon, salt and pepper. You might want an apple and some cheese, too.

(3) One or two large Mettwurst from your local butchers--delicious. Plus apple and cheese.

Now dinner, girls, is where we get to the nitty-gritty. No carbs, EXCEPT for one glass of wine. Not sweet wine, though. So, Chardonnay or Merlot, say--not the Moldavian sweet red stuff that goes great with milk chocolate which, by the way, if you follow the diet, you will stop craving. 
SO: No potatoes, no rice, no pizza dough, no bread. Just meat and vegetables. Or fish and vegetables. Or tofu and vegetables. I think you can do bulgur, because it's more of a grain, and other grains are probably okay too, even with a little cheese on top. I steam the asparagus, but I sauté the bell peppers in a little olive oil and fresh garlic.

I find this diet very bearable--the first night or two I woke up from hunger and ate one slice of Cheddar cheese around two in the morning. After that I was okay.  I anticipate continuing to lose at a very slow rate, two pounds or so a month, for the next few months, and then I'll be done. And when I'm no longer trying to lose weight, I will have very small amounts of pasta or other carbs occasionally at dinner time.

Tip: a pleasant dessert is strawberries with whipped cream. Add McCormick's Vanilla, or Bourbon-Vanilla--just no sugar.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jan Böhmermann, Blasphemer

Don't get me wrong--I love the guy and at our house we've got "Be Deutsch" playing on continual loop. The current uproar is the best way in the world to get German schoolchildren to memorize Böhmermann's hilariously crude lyrics about a certain thin-skinned (oh, in my opinion) leader of a state that Germany's got to keep relatively happy. Mutti Merkel has her hands full, and I wonder sometimes if she's ever taken aside her easily insulted colleague and said, "Listen, old buddy, old pal, have you ever seen the stuff the kids put up on You-Tube about me and about Barack and hey, these Panama papers are really more the kind of thing you should worry about. . . ."
Naah, she doesn't count, 'cause she's a woman, except when she's a head of state. Oh, I do hope my favorite young satirist hasn't Salman Rushdied himself. And God forbid Charlie Hebdoed himself. He should have thought of Osip Mandelstam's remark: "Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?" Unfortunately, there is. Humor is on trial. Blasphemy is a concept immune to humor. Now supposing I was going to insult--not this tiresome Turkish president, but God, him or herself--can't he or she take it? By definition yes, one would think. If Herr Böhmermann had just dipped into some of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's remarks about how and why fundamentalists think the way they do, he might be out having a beer right now with his friends. Oh, but the poem is so good. It really is. Was the thrill worth it? And where are other satirists? David Sedaris, vault to your feet and defend this guy, please! Coda: "Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." Thank you, Horace Walpole. We could use some thinking around here.

P.S. Why doesn't Erdogan take a hint from Dolores Umbridge's failed suppression of Harry Potter's interview disclosing the re-appearance of Voldemort? 

This week's Die Zeit, Germany's version of The Guardian, asks why The Queen, the most powerful woman in the world (aka Angela Merkel) is reprimanding the court jester, the considerably less powerful Jan Böhmermann. I know she's between a rock and a hard place, but between you and me, I think she ought to ask him how to handle dickheads. There's a long and honored tradition of the court jester knowing best. Just read King Lear. If the old king had only listened to his Fool . . . who knew the score from way back . . .

I wish I had Böhrmann's wit. But here's my two cents:

Erdogan's a great big drip
Not one bit of him is hip
Get this man a better life
So he won't be filled with strife.


I know: doesn't quite cut it. Well, nobody reads me, anyway. Boys and girls, go memorize Herr Böhrmermann's lines! Now!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Critical Mom and the Nightmare Tenants

If you own a co-op apartment in New York City, you're generally out of luck when you want a caretaker or house sitter--every since September 11, 2001, when panic rose and rules changed. Many a co-op forbids any occupants who are not owners or immediate members of owner's families on principle, or because the co-op thinks that otherwise the bank won't respect it, or for less clear reasons.

My co-op building has a rule: subletting is allowed two out of every five years. The rest of the time, the place must lie fallow, and your super, or a friend, can come in to water plants. But nobody can live there, and if you can't live there yourself, the apartment remains empty.

I'd had lovely subletters who stayed three years, because when I wrote to request a third year, somebody at the managing agency said yes, and that somebody, unbeknownst to me, got fired. 

Enter, stage left: a board member. This board member owns most of one floor of the building, and could her daughter live in my apartment and provide upgrades for a few months, that is, reside as my guest?

Could I say no? Yes, I could and should have said no. But I was afraid to do so, since the board member's vote could turn down any future sublets I might want to have. Overlooking a certain mayham in her personal style--she comes with the aura of her public intellectual ancestor and is a writer herself--I agreed, despite knowing my previous experience with her. She'd asked to use my apartment over Christmas for her family and said she'd "leave you something for the phone." What she left was a Santa hat and a phone bill for $272.

Right before my lovely subletters who stayed three years moved in--and she'd approved them--she suddenly asked to use my apartment: "The board need not know," she added. She was in the middle of a divorce, and oh, please, could she just stay in my place for three weeks. I said the board had to know and made sure the board did know.

She paid for two of the three weeks. So I should not have been surprised, but I was, to find, when I returned to my home halfway through her daughter's sublet to find that my convertible sofa, my Victorian love seat, and all of my wooden straightback chairs had vanished. Along with my French press coffee maker, my pots and pans, my can openers, a baking dish that had been a wedding present . . . .

Was there a security deposit? No. Is it worth suing her? Not really.

The lease ended and I changed the locks. I count myself lucky that the place is structurally sound, that the super only had to fix one minor leak and put one bathtub faucet back on, that the windows could be repaired, and that the stove--whose insides looked like the mammoth cave--could be cleaned and still works. 

I'm awfully fond of my little apartment, and hope to have a worthy caretaker some day. I'm wondering whether co-ops will ever allow worthy caretakers.  In my dreams. In my dreams.