Food and Weight (Again)
Last Acts of Kindness

Two Books for Your Heart

You may have noticed that I don't do book reviews. The main reason is that there are so many bad ones related to aging and I don't see the point of writing about a book I threw across the room (metaphorically or for real).

But it doesn't seem fair that I rarely get around to mentioning books I like so this week I'm going to tell you about a few. Today, one for your heart and one for your heart – that is, for love and for health.

I don't know how I've missed Ilene Beckerman who has a string of books behind her including Love, Loss and What I Wore which Nora and Delia Ephron turned into a successful Off-Broadway play.

TheSmartestWomansmall Beckerman's latest book, The Smartest Woman I Know, is a funny, charming and heartwarming memoir of her Jewish grandmother, Ettie Goldberg, and since Ms. Beckerman is 75, she's going back a long way to give us this portrait.

Ettie is a lot like most Jewish grandmothers of her immigrant, early 20th century era – and Italian ones and French ones and German ones too – dispensing wisdom in short, practical bursts filled with humor both intentional and otherwise. “Even Rita Hayworth doesn't look so good in the morning,” she tells “Gingy” - Beckerman's nickname as a child.

This is a slight, little book, just 85 pages including a lot of cute illustrations that expand on the text. It made me laugh and almost cry too. Mostly, it's about uncomplicated, loving truth. You can find out more at Ilene Beckerman's website.

When the doctor told Ettie's husband that he needed to trim down a bit, Ettie said to Mr. Goldberg: “I'll give you some free advice on how to lose weight. Don't eat so much.”

Onebowlcoverfrontonlysmall Absolutely true, Ettie, but hard to do anyway as we've been discussing here at TGB lately. That brings me to another book – a cookbook by Stephanie Bostic titled One Bowl: Simple, Healthy Recipes for One. "Simple” and “healthy” they are, and the ones I've tried are also delicious.

One reason is that Stephanie, who holds a masters degree in nutrition and has worked in nutrition research at both Tufts University and Harvard School of Public Health, lives alone and cooks most every night for herself – which is how she developed One Bowl. As she says in the introduction:

”I may occasionally still rely on takeout, but the following recipes make it easy to throw together a meal faster than a pizza would arrive.”

I was happy to find lots of soup recipes and there are others I've always thought to be too elaborate to try for just me – such as a duck breast with plum or apricot preserves and sliced almonds that took less than 20 minutes to prepare. Excellent.

One of the hard facts of getting old is that even after a marriage of decades, we can wind up alone, a widow or widower, with no experience at cooking for one. Stephanie's book includes a lot of instruction and help for easy, healthy and delicious eating in smaller sizes.

You can find out more at her One Bowl website and at her blog, Sustainable Cooking for One.

Both books are available from the usual online retailers.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jeanne Waite Follett: Living a Dream


Some well-known frozen food folks provide veggies for two that you steam in the bag, & recently, my sister found some frozen veggies for one person at Walmart, I think. They are wonderful for my 96 year old mom who is a whiz with the microwave.

I'm always on the lookout for books about elders or those "close to being an elder." Not always easy to find, but two that I'd recommend are "Olive Kitteredge" & "Emily Alone" mentioned here in a recent comment. Perhaps others may have suggestions of books they've enjoyed. Just a thought. Dee

Both books sound good, and I could really use the One Bowl book of recipes!


Do you happen to remember a school teacher turned comedian named Sam Levenson?

He was my very favorite when it came to "Mama" stories.

He loved to tell the story of when his large family moved into the apartment on the Lower East Side,the first thing Mama did was buy a huge Dining room table.

This served two purposes. One,they could all fit around it for meals and two, it was perfect for all the kids to sit and do their school homework there.

So, one evening all the kids were at the table and a robber came along and began to "jimmy" the window up. All the kids screamed for Mama to come and stop him but she shushed them saying,"I've been trying to open that window for months but it's stuck shut."

"Let him get it open, I'll give him a Dollar."

So, I love this type of story and have already checked and found they have a Kindle edition which I have already ordered.

Thanks for the review.

Both books look intriguing and I will check them out.

Nancy, I remember Sam Levinson with great fondness. He was overweight and he blamed it on his mama who was always saying,"Eat, eat, think of the starving Armenians." He said he could never figure out how his eating would help the Armenians.

Even though (or maybe because) I'm a writer, I can affirm that throwing a bad book across the room is one of the most powerful forms of exercise!

Ronni--Thanks for the tips on books to look for.

I have trouble understanding why we keep on needing new recipe books. I arrive home this evening later than I like for dinner. [I live alone] But I knew what was in the fridge. Within 10 minute I had a tasty salad and sandwich ready for dinner. I think the secret is always to have healthy bread on hand, and to make sure there are raw veggies that can be combined, ad lib, with whatever dressing one has. Yes, faster than a delivered pizza, in fact, faster than a thawed pizza or microwaved entree. Healthier too.

Ronni-- I have to admit that I've been known to throw some books across the room, literally and figuratively. I remember a particularly frustrating experience with Milton's Paradise Lost and a project that involved reading diet books. Thanks for the generous mention, and I hope you continue to enjoy the book.

June-- yes, much like fiction, it's always a variation on the same theme. But, instead of someone coming to town/leaving town, you have a combination of vegetables, protein, grains, dairy and/or fruit.

It is surprisingly difficult to find a basic healthy cookbook for one, though, and most do not have a strong focus on vegetables. Some folks are less familiar with the kitchen, though, or need new ideas for those sandwich fillings (Lemon Artichoke Spread, anyone?). I remember when Dad was first cooking for himself... Let's just say the dogs were very well fed that year! A cookbook like this could have circumvented some of his frustrations.

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