Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Merlot, Great Dairy Restaurant Here in Shiloh

Photo by Yisrael Medad
Thank Gd, we don't have to go far if we want to eat out. There's a wonderful dairy restaurant here in Shiloh, Merlot. It's just across from the main supermarket and Kupat Cholim Leumit. There are also bus stops in front and around the corner. And there's a parking lot, too.

The food is absolutely delicious, and Merlot is willing to accommodate for groups and those who have allergies/sensitivities. The hechshar in Merlot is Mehadrin dairy. You can call them for more information 02-6284601. Even though their site is all in Hebrew, there are menus in English, and the waitstaff speaks English.

I ate in Merlot twice this week with friends, and when we were redoing our kitchen, we ate there a few times.

I highly recommend Merlot. It's nice to have a pleasant, reasonably priced restaurant a short walk from home.

Feast your eyes on the photos:

As you can see, presentation is also top class.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Recycling, Don't People Read?

Here in Shiloh, recycling is on the "honor system." It's not like what my parents had to deal with in Great Neck, where people had a multitude of color-coded trash cans. Each can was for a different type of trash, and each can had a different day to be put in an easily accessible place. They also had to tie down the lids, or animals would enter and spread the garbage all over the place. They could also be fined for filling the cans incorrectly. And if they missed the day, they'd be stuck with the trash.

I like it much better here. People are responsible for putting their recycling trash in the correct containers. Some people just use the giant garbage and don't recycle.  But many of us make an effort to recycle our trash.

There are large garbage containers all over the neighborhood and smaller orange ones for Some, like this one for papers and light cartons, such as cereal boxes, have easy to read labels. Other containers are much older, and the labels have long worn off.

Of course, there are people who don't pay attention and fill all the receptacles with whatever, instead of carefully following instructions. Today I saw a milk carton sticking out of the paper bin. So I carefully read the instructions. After listing all the permitted things, paper, letters, cereal/food/cometic/medicine boxes... very clearly it says:

Don't throw in milk and juice cartons!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Super Easy Way to Add Flavor to Meat/Fish/Poultry

There are two condiments that almost everyone has in their kitchens, catsup and mustard. Adding them to your cooking is the simplest, easiest way to add flavor to meat, fish, poultry and other foods.

I know that they all have additives, salt and sugar, but most recipes ask you to add those evils separately. There are times when even the most "natural health" cooks, like yours truly, need to cheat.

The other day when I was in a big rush to cook a couple of meals before leaving home, I put a couple of spoons of mustard and squirts of catsup on this chicken breast vegetable dish before putting it in the oven (covered) for baking. The result was stupendous, delicious, just perfect.

Sometimes we all need shortcuts. I draw the line at powdered soup mixes, jam and straight sugar. Even salt is rarely used for cooking in my kitchen. And when I use salt in soup and kugels, it's coarse, not table salt. What are your little cooking "cheats?" Please let me know in the comments, thanks.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, Like No Other

The other day I had to replenish my cake* supply. I bake a few cakes and freeze all but one. As usual I did a version of my very simple, basic cake. It really is the easiest cake to bake and very amenable to variations. For the basic recipe, click above on the embedded bold links.

My plan was to use perked coffee I had put in the fridge a few weeks ago for the liquid, but it didn't look usable. I had thought it would go perfectly with chocolate chips. It would be a bit more sophisticated than just the vanilla.

Then I got another idea. I added some instant coffee and some of the morning's leftover coffee grounds from the French Press.

The cake was absolutely delicious. There are three more in the freezer!

*I bake with 70% extra fine ground whole wheat flour and brown sugar. Besides the health value, I think it has more flavor than white flour and white sugar.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Jerusalem Walk, Yesterday

Yesterday was Wednesday, and any Wednesday* you'll find me in Jerusalem studying in Matan. Click here for class schedule and more information.

For the past few years, my study partners/friends/chevruta and I meet early for breakfast chat and learning. Then most of us go on to class with Yael Ziegler. After that lecture, I have a break of over an hour and a half before Yael Leibowitz's class. During that time I usually, weather permitting, take a walk and buy something for lunch.

I used to bring lunch with me, but now since I sleep the night before in Jerusalem, that's more difficult. It's also such a pleasure walking around the neighborhood, the walking trail, by the old train tracks, or to Talpiyot, Emek Refaim, etc. And of course, I need and love a walk.

*except for school vacations

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Simple Kitchen "Repair"

From the very beginning of my new kitchen, there was no water pressure from the dairy sink. And it went from bad to worse. I called in the kitchen guy and told him that he must have made a real mistake and had to fix it.

He couldn't understand why only drops were coming out. So he did what I should have done immediately and/or what my kids could have done when they visited. He got a tool to unscrew the little filter at the opening of the faucet.

Without that little filter the water flowed nice and strong. Simple cleaning didn't clean the filter, so he put it in a cup with vinegar and told me to rinse and screw it back on in the morning. That's what I did. Now I can easily wash the dishes, and the hot water comes out quickly, too.

PS In all honesty, I had been thinking of it, but the filter didn't unscrew easily. I should have tried harder, but I never would have thought of using vinegar to clean it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Season Change: Hot Coffee

I'm back to drinking my morning coffee hot. No more cold brew for the next few months or so from my French Press. I also deleted the nightly reminder on my cell phone/smartphone to remind me "Make Coffee."
back to hot coffee
no longer drink ice water
winter approaching
At the same time, I found myself drinking my water with lemon sans ice.

Nights are getting colder and longer. The water is coming out of the faucets much colder than just a couple of weeks ago.

I also set up the house's hot water boiler to go on for about an hour before we wake up. The very dusty solar panels aren't heating the water sufficiently anymore. Since it doesn't rain here in the summer, and I don't have anyone to climb on the roof to hose down the panels, it's just easier to use a bit of electricity. I just have to remember to turn off the automatic timer before Shabbat each week.

It's funny that the hot coffee, which didn't taste right a month ago, now tastes just perfect. I guess we, too, change with the seasons.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #30, Speedily Out of Order at New Train Station

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See #29#28#27,  #26,  #25,  #24,  #23#22#21,#20#19#18#17#16,  #15a#15,  #14#13#12#11#10#9,  #8#7,  #6,  #5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1

In my post about my adventure on the new Jerusalem High Speed Train, I mentioned that my friend and I found that getting back up to street level in Jerusalem was difficult. We couldn't find "up escalators," and there were terrible crowds trying to get on the much too few elevators immediately after the train arrived.

While looking for "up escalators" I noticed the public toilets, so of course I had to try out the ladies loo.

The good news was that there was toilet paper, but the bad news was that it didn't flush. The bowl was full of paper, and I couldn't get it to flush at all. The mechanism was already broken, just a few weeks after the train service and station had opened to the public.

I should have tried the train's WC, but I was too busy trying to take pictures of the countryside as we sped by. There was very little time, since the entire ride was just over twenty 20 minutes.

If you can update the information about the public toilets in the new Jerusalem train station, please comment, thanks.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Xiaomi Smartphone, Saga, Update, Customer Report

Less than two months ago, I bought myself a Xiaomi Mi A2 without very extensive research about it. I knew that I didn't want to spend an awful lot, and I was totally disgusted with Samsung, because my J7 hadn't even lasted two years before dying suddenly. Instead of buying a low price phone from a good (expensive) company I bought a top of the line from an inexpensive one.

So far the big pros of the phone are
  • the two year warranty versus one year for my Samsung phones
  • and the camera
  • the size, very similar to the J7, so no adjustment
They are both superior to the Samsung J7 and the previous Samsung I had which was a Samsung Galaxy II Plus, a not too bright but hardy workhorse.

Now for the cons.
  • An annoying disadvantage was/is that I couldn't find a selection of cases, just clear ones which showed off the boring black phone. First I decorated the free case which came with the phone with red and white sparkly stick-ons. 
  • The serious problem is that many people say they can't hear me clearly when we're trying to have a conversation. Others have no problems talking to me on the phone. And I discovered that some of them are convinced that I talk when washing dishes or some similar noisy pursuit. But I must admit that some of my kids complained that towards the end, they hadn't heard me clearly on the J7.
  • It doesn't come with a choice of ringtones. I'm pretty good at figuring out various devices, and although the phone wake-up alarm has choices there are no choices when someone calls. I asked on facebook, and someone suggested Zedge, which gave me a Beatles tune. Yay!

Last week I did find a better/stronger and more "attractive" case, which gave me two choices of  "decoration." They are actually pieces of paper shaped to fit inside the clear protective case. I can live with the sparkly silver one. 

I haven't had a major problem getting used to the different system and figuring things out. Yesterday I did panic a bit when it stopped ringing, but after searching a variety of set-up options, I succeeded in solving that problem.

An annoying thing is that it doesn't use the same plug for charging, but I bought an inexpensive piece to add to one of my old chargers. Of course, it comes with one free charger.

Now for the sixty four thousand dollar $64,000 question...
Do I recommend the Xiaomi Mi A2? Is it a good/great smartphone for the price?
Honestly, I'm still not sure. I don't know any other users. If you have the phone, what do you think?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Babysitting Help

One of our grandchildren is being raised with two rather hairy "older siblings," aka dogs. We have other grandchildren who get rather "nervous" around them, but they accept that visiting their cute little cousin requires that they accept the dogs in the bargain. Considering that I was rather phobic/terrified of dogs and cats as a child, I like the idea that there are now dogs in our family.

The other evening I was asked to babysit for the adorable little boy as he slept, and I had company to do it, too. Yes, they seemed pretty bored. No television, and I didn't share my phone with them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Let's Go To The Show!!! HIDDEN - The Secret Jews of Spain

My great disappointment is that I'm not acting/singing/dancing in  "HIDDEN - The Secret Jews of Spain." I ended up suffering severe hip pain the week of my audition and had to cancel. By the time I began feeling much better it was too late. I took that as a "sign" that being in a musical show was really too much for me.

Opening night is November 11, so get your tickets now!
Join us for "HIDDEN - The Secret Jews of Spain," an epic historical musical about an outwardly Christian, secretly Jewish family who struggles to keep its true identity amidst the ever-watching, merciless eyes of the Spanish Inquisition. Based on the beloved historical novel The Family Aguilar by Rabbi Marcus Lehmann, with permission of Feldheim Publishers.
Recommended from age 10 and up ~ For women and girls

For ticket information click here.

Monday, October 08, 2018

When Will it Rain?

Here in Israel rain is rare. The rainy season is after the Jewish Holidays, usually starting some time in October, ending in March.  And even then we can have a couple of dry weeks or more. Droughts are common. Actually, we're suffering the effects of a shrinking Lake Kinneret (Galilee) and Dead Sea right now.

I'm not writing this to complain about the weather. It's just that I'm planning on going to Jerusalem and want to be "prepared." It's not all that cold, but should I bring a jacket, umbrella etc? The forecasts aren't clear. One says dry, and the other predicts rain.

Last night as the sun was setting
Today we expect +27..+20 °C, without precipitation, gentle breeze. Tomorrow: +25..+22 °C, without precipitation, gentle breeze. Weather site
Scattered Thunderstorms 26°17° 40% W 18 km/h 66%
Partly to mostly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. High 26C. Winds W at 15 to 25 km/h. Chance of rain 40%.  A different weather site

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Art of Revelation: A Visual Encounter with the Jewish Bible, Stunning!

I am very privileged to be reviewing Yoram Raanan's Art of Revelation: A Visual Encounter with the Jewish Bible.

For months I had been waiting for the book to arrive, and it was certainly worth the wait. It's the art book worth buying a coffee table for.

Some of you may have read about the burning of Raanan's studio a couple of years ago.
I soon began painting again, and I realized this was only another part of a journey I'd begun long ago..." Yoram Raanan
Miraculously, after the fire that destroyed Raanan's studio and a large percentage of his paintings, he was able to produce this book from photos of them.

I went through Raanan's entire book, studying all the paintings. It is organized by the weekly Torah Portions. For some Torah Portions there is more than one painting, since apparently he uses the art medium of his painting to interpret the Bible, annually. It reminded me of how, each year when we read Parshot Shavua, we see different points/lessons and interpret the same words, verses and stories differently each year. I found some of the paintings absolutely stunning, aesthetically and spiritually.  Many of Raanan's paintings would be exquisite on silk.

Lech Lecha



Aren't they gorgeous!? Definitely awesome.

Presently, Art of Revelation: A Visual Encounter with the Jewish Bible by Yoram Raanan can only be purchased via his site; click here. It's a visual and spiritual treat, perfect to feast your eyes on Shabbat,  Jewish Holidays and weekdays, too. Perfect as a gift, not only to give to others. You should enjoy it, too.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Adventure on The New Jerusalem High Speed Train

One great advantage of our age and being retired is the opportunity for spontaneity. There are very few strictly scheduled events to worry about. After a lovely lunch in Center 1 with friends from all over the world, my longtime buddy and I decided to take the lightrail to the center of Jerusalem. Since we had a few minutes before the trolly's arrival, she wanted to ask some questions at the nearby Navon Train Station of the new Jerusalem High Speed Train. The young man at Information informed us that "today," meaning yesterday, we didn't need advance reservations to take the new train to Ben Gurion Airport. All we needed was our trusty Rav-kav.

And so, within seconds, we were on our way. The young friendly help staff assisted us in "purchasing" our free roundtrip tickets. We're still young enough to enjoy an unplanned adventure.

We had read about the Jerusalem High Speed Train, which like when the lightrail was new, is offering free rides. I must admit that I had been nervous about the long escalator ride underground. I'm still traumatized by old wooden escalators in the London Underground at Kings Cross to the Northern Line, which I had taken forty-three years ago. I must tell you that these new Jerusalem escalators are wonderful. I felt very safe and didn't feel any ear pressure when we got deep underground to the tracks.

In keeping with the festive mood of the pre-opening of the Jerusalem High Speed Train, we were given little chocolates. It was clear that many of the passengers, including young families, were on the train as a lark, like us, but there were also quite a few who appeared to be legitimate airplane travelers. They had lots of luggage with them.

We sat in the upper part of the train and looked out of the window, but it was disappointing to discover that a large portion of the route was in tunnels. We could see at times that we were speeding much more quickly than the cars of the parallel road.

The biggest time-waster was when we got back to Jerusalem and couldn't find an up escalator. All there seemed to be were a few much-too-small elevators. They were crowded and slow in coming. I think that only one was actually working. If that's so, then Gd willing it should be easier to get up once they're all fully functioning.

For people who live in or near Jerusalem, the Jerusalem High Speed Train is great. To and from Shiloh it isn't. We're actually as close to the airport as we are to Jerusalem. That's another reason why I enjoyed yesterday's adventure. I may never have another real opportunity to take the train.

eating the free chocolate candy

The actual train ride is just over twenty minutes in each direction, and there's a train every half hour.

In just over 90 minutes we traveled to Ben Gurion Airport, walked around the arrivals area and took the train back to Jerusalem.