Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some Weeks are Not the Best …..

Have you ever had one of those weeks were nothing seems to be enough to make you happy? I have a feeling this is another example of the joy of being perimenopausal. At least that is what I am trying to convince myself has been happening. It didn’t help that my father was having follow up cancer tests this week. It just seems like cancer follows me everywhere I go. *rolls eyes* While the colors of fall can be beautiful I also think knowing that plants are dying and/or going dormant isn’t helping my attitude either. I have been trying to pull myself out of my funk but nothing seems to be helping. Dan has two projects to file early next week which means he is working long hours, including this weekend. Not having my sweetie home over the weekend has not helped my mood as you probably guessed. Since I didn’t want to spread my gloom I decided to withdrawal for a few days. When I realized that I hadn’t posted since Wednesday I knew that was too long. Sorry about the downer of an opening but I wanted to share what is going through my head at the moment. The happy me should be back soon. *fingers crossed*

Today I decided to tackle overdue projects at home hoping that would make me feel better. Can’t say it helped my mood but it did get a few things accomplished so that part is good. I have started Christmas files of fun presents, decorating ideas, and recipe ideas. Given how much I love Christmas that was the most fun I have had this week. I am starting to look forward to the holiday. With a little luck that will be enough to pull me out of my funk.

If anyone has any idea of fun things to do I am all ears. Please feel free to share.

New Cast Iron Bodum Tea Pot:

As you all know both Dan and I love green tea and drink it all day. I ordered each of us this 1 liter cast iron enamel coated tea pot from Tuesday Morning.

I love that they are fully enamel lined, contain a fine metal press inside and are cast iron. They hold heat well and the lid is heavy so it doesn’t topple off when you pour. Additionally Tuesday morning has them at a great price and they ship directly to your door which I love. If you have any tea lovers on your holiday list I wanted to mention this. I had originally intended this to be a present for Dan for Christmas but I am not good at keeping a secret so he got it early.

Indian food Italian-American Style:

I have adored Indian food since I was in college when I was introduced to it by my best friend who had come from Madras for college. The smells in her home were unlike anything I had ever experienced. The aroma alone pulled me in and I was smitten from the start. I have been enjoying eating and making Indian food for the last 30 years. My food is not traditional but I think it is still delicious. Here is what I made from dinner on Thursday:

Sweet and Sour Chickpeas
Serves 4


4 cups chickpeas, cooked with about ½ cup of the cooking liquid
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 scoop stevia
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
¼ teaspoon nigella seed
3 tablespoon dark raisins
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons amchoor powder (mango powder)
½ teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved (to tighten the sauce)


Combine everything but the cornstarch and cook until the chickpeas are hot. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir to distribute it evenly throughout. Cook until the sauce tightens and then store in a covered dish until ready to serve. I like to serve this over brown rice but flat bread is also good.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 297.15
Calories From Fat (13%) - 37.38

Total Fat - 4.48g
Saturated Fat - 0.47g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 14.06mg
Potassium - 552.12mg
Total Carbohydrates - 52.06g
Fiber - 13.08g
Sugar - 11.94g
Protein - 15.01g


If you are a fan of Indian food and sweet and sour this is a good dish. I like the complexity of flavor. It is only slightly sweet but when you get a raisin you get a pop of sweetness that is unexpected but nice. This dish is traditionally made with lentils but any bean will work.

To go with the garbanzo bean dish I knew we needed a vegetable so I used the cauliflower we picked up at the market on Sunday. Here is what I did:

Cauliflower and Tomato with Coconut
Serves 4


2 teaspoons urad dahl
2 teaspoons coriander seed
1 pinch chili flakes
½ cup reduced fat coconut flakes
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons turmeric
¾ to 1 cup of water (what is necessary see directions below)
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
2 cups peeled diced tomatoes, and the juices


Toast the urad dahl, coriander seeds, chilis and coconut until they the coconut is a light brown and you have an unmistakable aroma from the pot. Move the toasted coconut and spices to your blender to cool. Once they have cooled for about 10 minutes add the tamarind, turmeric and enough water to make a pourable liquid.

Water sauté the onion until it is soft, add the cauliflower and spicy coconut sauce. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and cook until the cauliflower is tender.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 170.24
Calories From Fat (24%) - 41.27

Total Fat - 4.58g
Saturated Fat - 2.64g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 118.87mg
Potassium - 1389.03mg
Total Carbohydrates - 30.6g
Fiber - 12.67g
Sugar - 11.96g
Protein - 9.63g


This is not a traditional dish. The sauce is similar to one that is made with using ghee or oil but the tomato was my addition. The traditional version I learned years ago also had a little jaggery (a form of Indian sugar use brown sugar if you want sweetness in this) but I don’t find that necessary now.

The flavor of the dish is not what most Americans are used to. I can’t say I have had this at an Indian restaurant so I assume it is a homey dish. I enjoy the complexity of the sauce and the richness the coconut adds. When I serve this dish I like to add fresh cilantro and green onion to brighten the flavor but this is another non-traditional element.

If you like Indian flavors you will probably enjoy this. I serve it over brown basmati rice but whole wheat flat bread would be a great choice as well.

Saturday night:

Dan is still at the office working on his projects. I will be very happy when these go out so he can take a little time to relax. Who knows maybe I will be able to talk him into taking a day or two off. Well that is what I have in mind we will see if he agrees.

Signing out:

Time for me to start winding down for our early morning trip to the market. I hope you all have a good evening. Talk to you again soon, and by soon I do mean tomorrow. ;-)

Oh yeah, I also have a few comments and emails to either post and/or respond to.  I won't have time tonight but I will get to those first thing in the morning once we get back from the market and Dan heads back downtown to work. I also need to get caught up on your blogs.  It is a little overwhelming how far behind you get being off line for just a few days.


  1. Sorry you are having a down time...I kept checking your blog for a new entry and figured something was up...this too will do such a service to sooo many readers..I apologize for not letting you know how much I appreciate all your reading, cooking,blogging...Coco

  2. Glad to see you're back, Ali. I've missed you. Sorry that you've had one of those weeks, hope you're feeling better. (I'd imagine that weather changes might have something to do w/ it? It's getting cold there, right?)

    The whole dish looks phenomenal, but you know how I love Indian food!


  3. Hi Alicia, like coco im so sorry about your funk. you have legitimate reasons to be down. so just try and sit tight and ride it out. it feels like it will last forever but it wont ok??

    you brighteneed my day when i read this

    "Indian food Italian-American Style"

    thats so like you:)

  4. I hope everything gets better for you (and your loved ones).
    Health and happiness.

  5. So sorry to hear you're down. I definitely have those weeks too. You just try to keep going forward and don't let yourself wallow in it. Hugs and I hope you feel better quickly.

  6. I'm living through a challenging period in my life. One thing that has helped is doing yoga specifically for lifting sadness. You could find a little routine just with a YouTube search. It may not be the specific moves, but the mindset involved in intentionally moving myself from sadness to serenity... Whatever it is, it helps. :)

    I also am feeding myself gorgeously healthy fresh food (which I know you do), playing my instruments, and doing other things that really speak to my spirit. I know you will find your own way, and I really appreciate your openness in writing about your funk. It helps to know we're not alone in having moods and down-swings.

    Take care!

  7. Hope you're feeling cheerier. Just looking at the tea kettle cheered me up. What a beautiful gift — no wonder you couldn't wait until Christmas!

  8. Coco,

    Great name or nickname. ;-)

    Thank you for your words of encouragement I am doing better today. Please feel free to leave comments anytime. I enjoy the interaction.

    I hope you are having a good Sunday,

  9. LJ,

    Hi girl! It is nice to be back. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed and this was one of those weeks. Today is much better after exercising and crossing things off my to-do list.

    It was cold but we are in the low 70's today. You may be right that could have been another factor.

    Thanks, I did remember your Indian food love. Glad you like the sound of it. We enjoyed it so much that it is gone.


  10. Sometimes we forget to appreciate ourselves, and how much we have to offer the world. We are put on this Earth to experience and inspire. Your creativity in the kitchen is your vehicle (one of your vehicles), and everything you put out to share will be felt by others who are looking for it. Here's some good energy back to you...Hugs!

    Am eating Indian food right now- great on this rainy day! :)

  11. Michelle,

    Thanks girl. I try not to let things get to me but sometimes the situation becomes overwhelming. I am better today, not 100% my self but much better. :-)

    I wasn't really sure what to call the Indian dishes I made since they weren't traditionaly but my modifications of actual recipes. You know I can't leave things alone. LOL

    hope you are having a good Sunday,

  12. foodfeud,

    That is very kind of you. :-) Thank you for taking time to comment.


  13. Heather,

    This whole down thing is for the birds. I am usually so upbeat that it catches me off guard. Why doesn't anyone ever tell you how "off balance" perimenopause may leave you? *ugh*

    I am doing much better today. I got the exercise endorphins pumping and then was very productive at home. It has been a good day for me so far. Now I just need to get into the kitchen and it will be close to a perfect day. :-)

    hugs to you too,

  14. Aisling,

    I am sorry to hear you are going through a rough patch too. I hope it passes soon.

    Great suggestion about yoga. Once you mentioned that I realized I have a yoga DVD just for "beating the blues". I may pop that in tonight if I feel like I am going back down. Thanks for sharing the idea.

    I find it so hard to talk about being down because I am normally very upbeat and happy. But I also wanted everyone to know what was happening. Today has been better for me though which was a good thing. I did a little strenuous cardio and then worked on my to-do list.

    you take care too!

  15. Andrea,

    Today has been better for me. I think it was a combination of things.

    The tea pot is too cute isn't it? I am very happy with it and the price was good compared to retail. Dan is also using his at work. I can safely say we both recommend the pot and it works great with loose tea.

    thanks for stopping by,

  16. VegSpinz,

    Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    I agree that we (mostly women) tend to forget to appreciate ourselves and could all use a reminder. I love your point about people that are open will feel what I am sharing. What a very pleasant thought that is. Thanks for sharing it and sending the good energy. I couldn't help but smile reading your comment so it must have worked. ;-)

    Sorry to hear it is raining where you are. I hope the sun shines there soon. Enjoy your Indian food and the rest of your Sunday.


  17. I am sorry you are feeling down. I hope the good news on your father's tests will help get you on the path to cheering up :-)

    Ideas of fun things to do? Get together with a friend(s) and do something fun! Meet for tea, go to a movie, go shopping, go for a bike ride, etc. Get out of the house and have a little fun with friends who care about you and can help lift your spirits :-)

    I hope you are enjoying your weekend and that you are feeling a bit better!


  18. Courtney,

    Great ideas for the next time this happens. I will keep them in mind.

    We are still waiting for the lab results but are expecting good news about Dad based on the doctor's visual inspection. I think I will feel better once we get the lab results since that is definitive.

    I am feeling better, still not 100% but much better. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  19. I hope your weekend went up from this post - I am behind in reading, too. Sometimes that (aka life) happens. I also hope you get good lab results on your dad.

    The chickpea dish looks great - I have gotten some sweet and sour flavors in Indian food occasionally and would wonder if it is intentional. I actually just made a chickpea dish and it was one of those where the leftovers were gobbled up really quickly. I'll be ready to try a new one soon.

    Have a good week!

  20. Jessica,

    I completely understand being behind, LOL. ;-)

    Today was much better thanks for asking. I was just overwhelmed with all the cancer/medical stuff. Sometimes it gets to be too much for me and perimenopause is not helping. ;-) I picked a bad time to get old. LOL

    I love chickpeas too! It is hard to resist trying new things with them.

    enjoy the rest of your weekend,

  21. I'd say Christmas is the perfect mood lifter! I have those weeks, too...mine I think are because I'm a restless person by nature...I'm definitely a happy, optimistic person, as well - but restless and bored easily, as well. My spiritual beliefs (Christian) are what keep me from ever getting too down in the dumps. I also think physical touch helps me immensely - whether it be from my family or a professional massage.

    I think you should automatically feel better because so many of us think so highly of you - and your blog. You are a blessing to others - I mean, just listen to you: YOU'VE had a bad week, and you're apologizing to everyone for not responding to emails! :)

    Interesting that my dad and I both had cancer, as well.

  22. Jenny,

    Christmas is hands down my favorite holiday. I love everything about it (except the commercialism but we will overlook that part). I think focusing on it did help lift my mood.

    Great idea about physical touch being important. I will share that with Dan who will be more than happy to take care of that idea. ;-)

    Thank you so much for making me smile. It was very thoughtful of you. :-) There are many days when blogging feels very solitary if that makes any sense.

    Ugh, sorry to hear both you and your dad had to go through that too. I hope everyone is doing well in your family now.

    enjoy what is left of your weekend,

  23. Ah, honey, I'm sorry you were having a down day. Fall is a happy time for me, but I get seasonal blues in winter, closer to the holidays. It's such a crappy feeling because there's only so much you can do about it. I happened to read your post just as I was listening to this Modest Mouse lyric: "Alright don't worry even if things end up a bit too heavy / We'll all float on." I hope this week is brighter for you!

    Also, I love the look of those teapots. I'm now obsessed with my Wonderland pot and feel a need for lots more. My friend created a beast with this gift. :)

  24. Brigid,

    I was having a down week that ended up getting worse and worse. Funny, I normally like fall too but not this past week all I saw was death. Morbid right? *shakes head* Thankfully I am feeling much better now like I will be back to my usual self soon. I am going to do some fun things today to keep my spirits high.

    Your Wonderland teapot is adorable. If I ever see one I will definitely buy it. I have a bit of tea pot obsession. There are four I used regularly at home.

    I hope you have a good week,

  25. Oh, Ali, sorry to hear you were having a bad time - I'm glad you were able to share your feelings, that generally helps, doesn't it? Just writing it down makes it less bad in some weird way.

    It's great to get to the other side of the menopause, trust me! If only the hot flashes would completely leave me alone, I'd be ecstatic - though the central heating bills will rise!!!

    Hope by now your Dad's results are through, and okay.

    I adore chickpeas, and always tend to use them in curries, and we eat a lot of curries, all made from whatever I feel like on the day - I gave up on recipes long, long ago, yet still have a mountain of recipe books, just love reading them like novels - how sad is that?

    Take care, glad you're feeling more yourself.

    Christine x

  26. Christine,

    Sometimes between perimenopause and other health challenges I can't find a reason a smile. I need to work on that more. I am much better now though. My hormones must be in a happy place at the moment.

    Great suggestion about getting outside. I try to do that at least 30 minutes a day even when it is cold. It really does seem to help my mood. I am looking forward to menopause and never thought I would say that. ;-)

    My father is closed mouthed about things but he hasn't said anything else about the test so it must have been good, I think.

    I don't use other people's recipes often either but prefer to go with the flow and add whatever speaks to me at the moment. I read cookbooks like novels too, it isn't just you. ;-)

    thanks again and have a wonderful Tuesday,


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