Saturday, December 31, 2011

Burial Crisis?

The following was an advertisement in the Torah Tidbits:

Suitable for Kohanim: Burial rights for two adjacent front row plots in the Kohanim Section at the Sanhedria Cemetery, Jerusalem are available for transfer. Offers invited in the region of NIS100,000 and above. Please apply to...

This prompted a brief discussion with my husband at the Shabbat table about a couple things.

First of all, the utter gall this person has to auction this off. To me it just seems so... crass.

Second, real estate in Jerusalem per meter for the dead seems to be just as expensive as apartments for the living.

And third, apparently they're running out of burial spaces in the country... especially in Jerusalem.

My solution to number three by the way is to stop allowing Jews who don't actually live in Israel, to be buried in Israel. If the country wasn't good enough for you when you were alive and well and could appreciate the land and contribute to the country by say, paying taxes, then you shouldn't become a tax on the country when you're dead by taking up needed burial space.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yes sir, that's my baby....

A Mother in Israel posted about the Top Israeli Baby Boy Names of 2010 and had asked on her FB if folks would mind contributing a photo of their baby for the post.

I was quite happy to oblige and sent her this photo of EN, when he was a bald 10 week old baby.

Of course that was AGES ago, EN will be turning 3 in March (where DOES the time go????) so I figured I'd show folks an updated picture...

Of course after he turns 3, we'll need new post-Chalakeh photos...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Family Sukkah Project

Last year, we started the Family Sukkah Project (that's a link, BTW) thanks to some ideas posted on other blogs.

This year, the boys were a lot more cooperative and thanks to the arrival of a son in law this summer, we've grown a hand!

Now I understand

I finally 'get' the allure of crispy, fried cured meats.... Yesterday I was frying up 'pepper salami' (salami with whole peppercorns in it) for my potato knishes and I found myself unable to stop eating the hot, crisp, greasy morsels...

I really had to restrain myself because I was running out. I may go and buy more just to fry... ooooh... LUNCH!

I still can't stand the smell of cooking bacon... oh, where does a nice FFB girl get that from? That would be being on a fishing 'party' boats from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn with my dad by 6 a.m. A mate would be in the galley filling breakfast orders. The whole place would stink of cooking bacon, fish, diesel and salt water. It wasn't bad in the summer because I could sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. But in the winter (our last trip was usually on Thanksgiving), I'd sit at the stern, letting the galley protect me from the worst of the wind and spray, but it was still pretty darn cold. And sometimes raining. I seem to remember snow a time or two.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Taking stock

Once upon a time, if you looked in my pantry, you'd find 2 large bags of soup mix. Chicken flavored for my soup and onion soup mix for chicken, rice and spinach kugel.

Since marrying a food snob (I love you!), you will no longer find the chicken soup mix. Instead, you'll find bottles of home made stock in my freezer.

It usually starts with a turkey carcass or two I've saved from a big turkey dinner (several times a year I'll buy a whole turkey for either Shabbat or holiday meal... and Thanksgiving of course). The bones with a bit of meat still on them, and yes, it's okay that there's some of the sweet gravy still stuck to the bird.

Then it's veggies - scrubbed but not peeled carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, sweet potatoes, a great big bunch of dill and parsley. Whole cloves of garlic. If parsnip were affordable, that would go in too. Once I even added kohlrabi.

The truth is, almost any nutritious, and aromatic vegetable is great for stock. The limit is simply how big your pot is.

I add a bit of black pepper, but not salt. Since I have it cooking for a while, I don't want to add salt and then have it become overpowering. Plus, since I use it as a base and add water, veggies and chicken when I actually make soup, I can add the salt then.

Fill the pot with water and then I bring the whole thing to a boil and then let it simmer for at least an hour and half, to two hours. Then I let it cool and decant into large soda bottles (here in Israel they come in 1.5 liter sizes) and then freeze. Next time though I'll also make a few 1/2 liter sizes for when I want to use it when making rice or kasha varnishkas or something like that.

Dr. Jekyll

And Mr. Hyde

I've been a little busy...


Click on the photo to see it full sized.

And if you'd like to see more,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monkey in the middle

Frequently, when I have an appointment with a specialist, I get a call the day or three before, reminding me that I have an appointment and confirming that I'll be making it. Often, specialists are at the clinic one day a week and appointments are hard to come by. If someone cancels, they can use that spot for an emergency or bump someone up.

So please tell me why Tel Hashomer and Beilinson hospitals (and I*'m sure many other hospitals in Israel, but I know first-hand about these two) doesn't have something similar for their various in-hospital clinics and departments?

I've been burned TWICE now because of this damn doctors' strike. The first time was at Tel Hashomer, I was scheduled for a surgery and after schlepping by buses and getting to the day surgery department by 7 a.m. (and fasting since 8 p.m. the night before), I was told my surgery had been canceled because of the strike.

I never received a call from the hospital telling me it had been canceled and arranging a reschedule. I never got a call from my doctor telling me the surgery was canceled (I had left the hospital 4 days earlier AMA due to appointments I HAD to keep, I was still sick and he knew this. Plus he'd been treating me for year already and I have his cell phone number,, but anyway, I digress). And the nurse at the clinic was unhelpful, she simply told me to call the doctor and go home and wait.

That was when I switched to Beilinson. It's a bit more convenient to get to, plus I heard their ENT clinic was MUCH better than Tel Hashomer's. So I showed up in their ER, was admitted and after telling them for 2 days that no, I didn't want to go back to Tel Hashomer, I spent an additional 4 days in the hospital. IV antibiotics, etc... whatever, that's not the point of my post.

What IS the point of this post is, upon being discharged, I was given an appointment for a follow-up visit, for today, June 26. The paper said show up between 9 and 11.

Since it's first come, first served, I figured I'd get there by 8:30.. which I did.

Only to be told by the receptionist that there was a strike and all appointments were canceled. She seemed shocked that I didn't know about it. She asked me "Don't you read the papers? Don't you watch the news or listen to the radio?"

I didn't have the energy to answer... but it would have been... no, no and no.

I don't own a TV and wouldn't watch Israeli TV anyway.. they talk a mile a minute (on both TV and the radio) and frankly, I can't keep up. And as far as newspapers go, when I look through the paper and try to read an article, I'm lucky if I understand about 1/3 of what I'm reading, which generally isn't enough for me to get the gist of the article. And since that frustrates me, I don't go out of my way to read newspapers.

I suppose because of all that, it's entirely my fault I showed up. It's also entirely my fault I didn't have a sign next to my computer, reminding me that I should call on Thursday to confirm my appointment is still on.

But you know, even if I had known about the strike, I still would need to call to reschedule the appointment.

So why can't THEY call ME to let me know my appointment's been canceled and to give me a new one??

(I did get a new appointment... for SEPTEMBER 4)

Doesn't the clinic have ANY responsibility towards their patients at all??

Is there ANYTHING Yossi Public can do to motivate the two sides to resolve this damn strike? We can't boycott the hospitals and doctors. Can I stop paying taxes? Will that get someone's attention without landing me in jail?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Needing Routine

For people, and I think kids especially, who crave routine, certain holidays can be pure misery for them. Thankfully most Jewish holidays are enough like the weekly Shabbat that for some kids, like my son, it doesn't affect him.

My son Netanel (we call him Nati for short) will be 4 in May. We don't have an official diagnosis for him yet, but I'm not kidding myself that there's a good chance Asperger's will be mentioned. Possibly with a side-order of ADD or ADHD. I guess you can say I'm preparing for the 'worst' and hoping for the best. Nati is one of those kids that really needs routines. Pick-up from nursery has to be a particular way and when it isn't, the tears and tantrums begin and don't stop until concessions are made. While he has no problem getting into pajamas at bedtime, if I need to change his clothes in the middle of the day for any reason, he has a problem with that. He has a favorite hat he needs to wear when he leaves the house.

Because Shabbat comes once a week, it's routine; showering well before bed, shutting off and putting away the laptop, eating meals as a family and going to shul. And for the most part, Jewish holidays are exactly that. Oh sure, Rosh Hashana has the shofar blowing, Sukkot we eat outside in a special cloth tent-like structure and on Pesach there's no bread and we break our teeth on matzah. But there's still the going to shul, the complete cut-off from using electronics and actually seeing Aba for more than an hour or two in the morning.

That's not to say he doesn't have his moments. We have had a few Shabbatot where he asks to watch something on the 'puter' and saying no brought on the tears. Or shutting everything off sparked a tantrum. If he gets hold of a pen or crayon that escaped being put away, right now, we do allow him to color.

But then we have a couple other holidays that blow routine out of the water and can be a sensory overload of noise and sight. I'm talking about Chanukah and Purim.

Of the two, I think Chanukah, which is in December, is the more benign. Yes it lasts for 8 days as opposed to the 1 or 2 of Purim (which we celebrate in March), but it seems to be much less bombastic. Plus it gets offset by getting presents.

I didn't take the kids to any of the Chanukah parties but Nati did have one at school. Parents were invited and the kids 'performed' for us - doing a bit of song and dance for us to different Chanukah songs. For the most part, Nati didn't join in and unfortunately for a couple of the dances his teacher kind of forced him, which led to him almost breaking down. (He's in a mainstream nursery until we can get him evaluated. We're hoping that next year he'll be in a special-ed environment).

Purim though, is a bit more involved. We wear costumes, we do a bit of reverse trick-or-treating where we go door to door and we give food or baked goods or nosh to others. There's an issue about getting drunk. So the holiday is much louder than any of the others. I don't think Nati is sensitive to the noise yet but I think crowds give him pause. He definitely doesn't like strangers approaching him.

Thursday there was a Purim party for the kids which I bought tickets to. Nati was already 'off' his schedule from the previous day when we tried and failed to get him a sleeping EEG, which meant he (and I) had been up since 4 a.m. And it was taking him a while to recover from that. The teacher didn't remark on his behavior at school, but after, he was tired, listless and the smallest and even imaginary things set him off. He was also clinging to his oldest sister. While his younger brother happily got into his costume, Nati not only refused to change, but refused to even go. His sisters were taking him and his brother to the party and I told them not to push the issue. If he didn't want the costume, that was fine. If he wanted to stay home, that was fine too. My older daughter took the younger one to the party and the two 'middle kids' stayed home. Until Nati realized that his 'favorite' sister was gone, he decided to go to the party.

The next day was the school party and again, he refused to get into him costume (it was a long sleeved undershirt and leggings I dyed orange-yellow and painted brown spots on. He was Chester Cheetah). And again, we didn't make a big deal of it. We sent it along with him in case he changed his mind, but told the teacher not to press the issue. When he came home his face had been painted, but he was still in his regular clothes. I was happy to see at least he'd been willing to try something.

Today is the actual holiday of Purim. Everything from last week was just pre-holiday festivities. I'm not hopeful he'll wear his costume, but frankly, it doesn't matter because it's not about me. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish he'd wear his costume to fit in, but I have a feeling he's going to spend a significant part of his life 'not fitting in' and that's just something I'm going to have to get used to and help him through as best I can. I'm taking the attitude of 'it's not worth it'.

Besides, he has an opinion and he's entitled to it. He doesn't want to wear a costume for Purim? So be it. It's not the end of the world.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

This recipe is from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I used craisins instead of raisins and used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. I think WW would work well too. In addition, I used oil instead of melted margarine and soy milk to keep it dairy-free.

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
Mix Time: 20 minutes | Total Rise Time: 3½ hours | Bake Time: 50 minutes
3½ cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) shortening, melted or at room temperature
½ cup (4 ounces) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
¾ cup (6 ounces) water, at room temperature
1½ cups (9 ounces) raisins, rinsed and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts
For the topping:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk, and water. Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.
2. Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes). Sprinkle in the raisins and walnuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much. (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and walnuts evenly.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
4. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves. Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8½ by 4½-inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
5. Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.
7. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished breads should register 190 degrees F in the center and be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
8. Immediately remove the breads from their pans. Mix together the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon for the topping in a shallow plate. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter as soon as they come out of the bread pans, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar. Cool loaves on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


So... this year, NS will be dressed as Chester Cheeta and EN will be the Bamba Baby. The Mishloach manot will be either peanut butter rice crispies or peanut butter oatmeal bars (need to find out what Bracha one makes on rice crispie treats) and muffin-sized no-bake cheesecakes.

For the Seudah, we're having 9 or 10 adults and 13 kids ranging in age from 13 to 18 months or so.

We're doing picnic. Blankets on the floor. The meal will be deli sandwiches, french fries, potato salad, pasta salad, cole slaw, veggie salad... and something else but I have no idea what.

We're also going to bake cookies with the kids. Chocolate chip cookies with the younger kids and stained glass cookies with the older ones.

In past years, I've covered the tables with paper tablecloths and put crayons in the middle for folks to color and doodle and play tic-tac-toe during the serving. I've been to meals that are 'v'na-ha-foch hu' and we started with dessert and ended with soup.

So, what unique Purim Seudah things have you seen or done?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Money where their beliefs are

I don't eat foie gras or goose. I don't eat these things because I don't like the taste. As a matter of fact, I don't eat liver of any kind and if I can avoid eating the dark meat parts of chicken, I do so (goose and duck are all dark meat for those who don't know).

I don't avoid these delicacies out of politics, which is why I won't join PETA or Cry Fowl* or Birds of a Feather*. I'm not boycotting the goose. I don't like the goose.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Every couple of months or so, another report appears in the Israeli news about some musician canceling or possibly canceling their concerts here in Israel because of the 'apartheid'.

One of the latest ones (it's so hard to keep up) was Macy Gray taking it to her Facebook fans. In the end, she decided to come. But there have been others who gave in to pressure. Or buy into the whole boycott, divest, sanction movement (BDSM... unfortunate initials?).

The musicians who join these boycotts seem to actually stand to lose some money. After all, they miss out on concert opportunities.

But then there are the actors... The most recent uproar was when the Ariel Cultural Center opened and first you had Israeli actors refusing to perform at the center and then a bunch of Hollywood types voiced their solidarity.

I mean really. Why bother? As far as I know, none of these actors or playwrights were being asked to perform here (and I can easily find out if the center was planning on extending an invitation to Mandy or Jennifer since I live around the corner from the center). So what did it cost them? They're not losing any money.

Make it newsworthy guys. Come back when these actors and musicians who refuse to even come to Israel stipulate in their contracts that even their CDs, DVDs and other merchandising shouldn't be sold or rented in Israel or played in the movie theaters. Then I can see the point of signing in solidarity.

Until then? Pass the foie gras.

* Not real save the goose movements.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Corn Chowder

I've had this recipe sitting in my in box for TWO YEARS!!! before I tried it and it's so super easy and so yummy, I'm kicking myself for not trying this sooner.

Corn Chowder
1 potato, peeled & diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp unbleached flour
2 c. fresh or frozen corn
3 c. lowfat milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1) in a large pot over medium heat, saute the potato, onion and green pepper in the butter until the onion is soft, about 6-8 mins.

2) add the flour and mix well. then add the corn, milk, salt, and black pepper, stirring thoroughly.

3. turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender and thechowder has thickened (do not let it boil). spoon the chowder into the blender and puree into a thick mixture. (do this in batches, according to how much hot liquid is recommended for your blender. But I use a stick blender anyway).

I substitute 1 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of milk and do a mix of butter and oil for the sautee.