Pick N Choose Macrobiotics

Some snippets from Klara’s macrobiotics group:

Newbie asks: What to do about challah on a Friday night (or the lack thereof)?
Some responses:

As for challlah Friday night. I have two thoughts. First is the difference between the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. I think the blessing say thanks for the bread etc. So, I have no problem saying the blessing over a piece of whole grain, or sprouted bread. Extending even further, why not substitute one grain for another. Why just wheat, why not rice. I have said the “ chamotzie” over rice, quinoa, hato mugi etc. many times. The other thought, is that even though challah isn’t remotely macrobiotic, if it makes you feel good, spiritually, physically, or in any other way. Have some. I’ve done that many times too. Macrobiotics is supposed to fit into your life, not the other way around

Klara’s response:

my compromise is I buy a very small unyeasted roll – and even then won’t eat it all – I have a friend who used to make rice kayu bread – which is half flour and half rice – and she would steam it. Steamed bread I was taught was easier to digest.

I was quite surprised by Michael Rossoff’s suggestion that it’s ok for me to have 1 – 2 slices of bread a day – so you see, I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t go for counseling. As I said, each person had different needs.

Links from Klara’s macrobiotics group:

A recipe from Klara’s macrobiotics group:

Fresh Tekka

1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced carrot
1/2 cup minced burdock
1/2 cup minced lotus root
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon barley miso diluted in a little water
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon orange rind
1 cup spring water

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the vegetables in the following order, onion, carrot, lotus root and burdock.
Add enough water to cover the vegetables.
Cover with a lid and simmer on a low flame for at least 1 hour or until soft.
Add the diluted miso and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the ginger and orange rind and stir gently.
Remove from heat and serve over hot brown rice.

Comment from the recipe writer: You could use any of these veggies instead – parsnip, turnip, cabbage or squash – failing that use carrots and onions on their own. The relish changes every time we make it and even more so with different veggies – how splendid and wonderful a few simple adjustments can be!

(Comment from me: I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I’ll print it and put it in my recipe book to try soon).

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Note: I only follow a bit of the macrobiotic diet myself, in that I try to eat many vegetables, brown rice and beans. Thus my title of “pick n choose”: perhaps you can find a part of the diet to adopt?

Another Note: if you just pick and choose a little of the diet, you aren’t going to experience its healing effects. However, many of us like to put a toe into a pool before diving in…

Kiersten = Z.

KierstenA while back I wrote about a young woman’s battle with cancer:

I met her once at an art class. We shared a table. She cheerfully told me about how she does art in between chemo sessions. If there is a gene for optimism, she had it.

Here is her obituary, which will appear in today’s Star Ledger:

Kiersten E. Hickman-Perfetti, 22, of Highland Park died at home with her parents after an almost 4-year battle with cancer on April 23.

Kiersten was born in New Brunswick New Jersey on July 5, 1985. She attended public school in Highland Park. Kiersten played varsity basketball, threw the shot put, discus and javelin, and managed the football and baseball teams at Highland Park High School. She swam at the YM/YWHA and the University Swim Club from ages 5 to 14. Kiersten was an avid music lover. She played the clarinet was in the high school band.

Kiersten attended Goucher College in Towson, Maryland for her freshman year in college 2003-2004. Kier played basketball at Goucher College her freshman year, and she was awarded an honorary degree by Goucher in 2007. She was an avid Rutgers Women’s basketball fan and friend to the team, and a member of the Rutgers Cager’s Club. The RU women’s bball team dedicated their 2007-08 season to Kier. Kier enjoyed scrapbooking, reading, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, music, and movies. She took art lessons. Kiersten loved children and became an important person in the lives of many children in Highland Park and at the Children’s Hospital of Philly.

During her illness Kiersten developed a list of things to accomplish. She went to The Daily Show four times and met Jon Stewart, who was very kind to her. We thank Jon Stewart and Teri Abrams. She went to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, several Fab Faux concerts, Saturday Night Live, The Lion King, Rent, the WNBA 2007 All-Star game, and the NCAA 2007 Final Four women’s BB game. Kier also started a foundation, Kier’s Kidz, to raise money for research into the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer.

Kiersten is survived by her mother, Mimi Hickman-Perfetti, her father, Larry Perfetti, her brother, Keith Hickman-Perfetti, and her grandmother, Betty Perfetti of Maple Shade, NJ. Her other grandparents, Al Perfetti, and George and Nancy Hickman, predeceased her. She has numerous other relatives and friends.

Viewings will be held on Sunday, April 27, from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm at Jacqui-Kuhn Funeral Home, 17 S. Adelaide Ave., Highland Park, NJ. Full memorial services will held on Sunday, May 4, at 2pm, at Kirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, Kier would appreciate your making a contribution to: Kier’s Kidz Lemonade Stand, c/o Alex’s Lemonade Stand, 333 E. Lancaster Avenue, #414, Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Update on Z.

lilyA week ago I posted about Z., a friend of Ann who is very ill with cancer. Z.’s father regularly writes posts in a password-protected blog on the hospital website. Ann gave me access to these posts, and they are touching. And disturbing. It is clear that this is an important emotional release for Z.’s father. Z. was hospitalized so they could improve her pain medication. She will be coming home soon and receiving hospice care.

Some quotes from the letters:

I wish that I knew what Z. was thinking and feeling. We respond to her pain, try to understand her increasingly garbled speech, guess at what might make her less uncomfortable, and tell her that we love her, almost all of the time.


Thanks for your posts, your emails, your prayers, your love and warmth. And for our fellow Cagers and bball fans who are going to Greensboro, give a yell and clap really hard for our team. Tell them Z. sent you.

Go, Rutgers.

Love and Peace,
[Z.’s father’s name]


As one of my friends has said right along, “no parent expects to watch his child die. It is our own personal Holocaust.”

Sometimes people mis-use the term “Holocaust”. Not here.

Unfortunately, too many families have suffered such a loss. Here’s another family’s story.

The Big C

bananaMy mother, z”l (zichrona l’bracha, may her memory be a blessing), called it ‘the Big C.’ She couldn’t say its real name, Cancer. That would be too much of an admission of its arrival, of the arrival of this dreaded, unwelcome guest. My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer soon after my wedding. The early years of my marriage and of my sons’ babyhoods were marked by worry about how was she doing, how much longer would she be with us, could we do anything at all to reverse the decree, as it felt to us. The doctor gave her less than two years to live; she lived for more than five. Part of her longer survival might have been due to the force of the chemotherapy. My father’s care for her helped, too. A large part was her own desire to live just a bit longer, to see a few more grandchildren born, to dance at a few more simchas.

Unfortunately, I have been impacted by cancer much of my life. In 4th grade, a dear boy in my class died of this disease. Would I get a lump on my leg, too? I used to think. Every ache and pain for the next few years scared me. There was a little girl whose family had come all the way from Israel to the Boston area so she could be treated for cancer. The little girl lived a few more years, but then she too succumbed. As the years rolled passed, I learned of adults who had died of cancer. A friend’s aunt. A friend’s father. An aunt in Israel.

In my twenties, a friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember how warm a woman she was. I loved going to her home on Shabbat, the table spread with delicacies, and her warm smile making me feel welcome. Once, I went with my friend and her family on a hike in Maine. Out in the woods, we cooked hot dogs over an open fire. I remember her mother said: “I never ate these before I was diagnosed. I always avoided food like this (hot dogs). But now, what does it matter.” What a sad, sad day it was when we attended her funeral.

Years later, my friend would blame fat. “My mother made everything with fat, fat, fat,” she would say. What kind of fat wasn’t clear. One can only guess (saturated animal fat at the main course, with hydrogenated fat for dessert? With some rancid, overcooked oils thrown in anywhere?) Her father, too, would be stricken; about a year or two before my mother died, her father died of prostate cancer.

How I got stuck on the cancer and nutrition link and continue to follow this issue is a subject for another post. I can only write so much on this topic without feeling emotionally drained.

But I will say this: remember how my friend’s mother never ate hot dogs before she got sick? I gradually came to the opposite conclusion. Giving up hot dogs wasn’t merely enough. The food pyramid that we are taught about nutrition isn’t enough. There’s a lot to know about nutrition, and all our bodies are different.

In memory of my dear mother, here are some of her paintings.