Thursday, January 18, 2018

Enjoying The AC/Heater

It's almost a year since we got a couple of AC/Heaters installed in the house. We're about the very last people to get them. One big advantage is that they aren't on the floor. Another is that they both heat and cool, although we rarely need them in the summer, especially the one in the bedroom. 

Unlike previous years, our house is rarely cold. I haven't let it get to that super-freezing state which made me suffer terribly. As long as there's electricity, bli eyin haraa, I can turn the AC/Heater on. It has a thermostat, of course, which keeps the temperature even and turns it "off" when necessary. Most of the house is now much warmer than it had ever been in the winter because of the AC/Heater. I still have a small heater going on in the den.

As you can see in the photo, I can also hang laundry in the living room on rainy days or overnight. It dries pretty quickly. Yes, I understand that's a sign of very dry air. We drink water, besides coffee. 

I'm very happy we finally have the AC/Heater. Better late than never. Life has sure changed, thank Gd.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

3 Self-Portraits

I've been a member of 52Frames, the weekly photography challenge for quite a long time. And amazingly, bli eyin haraa, I've an unbroken streak since the week I was accepted as a member. Way back when, the time I joined, you couldn't just "join." You had to be accepted.

We're given a couple of week's notice as to what the theme/challenge will be, except for the first week of the year, when the tradition is a Self-Portrait. The first few years I'd freak out in hysterics about it. But this year I found myself with three very different shots to choose from. They were all taken in the Israel Museum. Here's the one I chose:

Yes, that's me. I took this photo of myself at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. It was just for practice but ended up the best compared to the rest.
I am an active retiree always looking to learn new things. Does it show?

Following are the two others:

What do you think? Did I choose well, or should I have sent in one of the others? And why?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Easy and Healthy No Sugar Beef

If you check recipes in books and online for cooking beef, you'll see that so many require sugar, whether from jam, sweetened sauces, wines, juice or just plain sugar. You can cook a piece of inexpensive beef without any sweetener at all.

I buy an inexpensive cut of beef from the freezer section of the supermarket. I'm fussier about the price than the name of the cut. First, after thawing, I soak it in water to rid it of whatever salts and blood I can get out of it. Actually I use the pot for this, since health/hygiene experts say it's important to keep raw meat/fish/poultry off of eating and food prep surfaces.

Beef, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, peppercorns, tomatoes or canned tomatoes preferably diced/chopped without added sugar or salt

  • Cut up a large onion and some fresh garlic; store in a bowl on the side.  
  • Cut about a pound of tomatoes or get a can/jar of diced or crushed tomatoes without added sugar; store in a bowl on the side.  
  • Add a bit of oil in the cooking pot, (which should have a good cover)
  • Turn on the heat and then add the beef. 
  • Keep turning the beef so the outside looks cooked. 
  • Add onions and garlic; continue turning for a few minutes.
  • Then add the tomatoes and peppercorns, cover and lower the heat a bit.
  • Let it cook for a couple of hours, checking periodically to make sure there's enough liquid. You may need to add some water.
That's it! Very no fuss and extremely healthy. No added sugar or salt is necessary. You can serve it with rice, pasta, vegetables, salad or whatever you like.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Saying "Goodbye" to The Pan

The "Pan" I'm referring to here isn't Peter Pan as played by Mary Martin. The "Pan" is my old trusty covered frying pan, which I'd used for so many years to make everything from fish, vegetables, omelets, potato latkes on Chanuka and more favorite foods.

This large frying pan and matching cover were the most used pieces of the set of EKCO pots my late mother-in-law had bought me when I got married. The cover was also used for the large "soup pot" in the set. This EKCO set was for dairy cooking, and I got a similar set for meat cooking but Farberware. I got married in 1970, and I must say that the pots have all survived amazingly well, though many are missing their handles, as are the covers.

Actually, it was because the large cover's handle had become shaky of late that I finally decided to retire them from use. This has been rather traumatic for me, since I cook in it almost daily nowadays. I've been a fan of stainless steel pots and pans "forever." Nowadays they are very hard to find, and if you do, the prices are outrageous. I'd still recommend them for people just starting out. They last a lot longer than most marriages. My kids will be able to divide my old pots up after I reach my 120. They are worth more than most of my jewelry.

I gave in and bought a specially treated aluminum pot with a glass cover. It doesn't claim to be covered with Teflon or silicon, materials I don't like at all. And I sent a note to the local email list that anyone who wants can take my old beloved dairy pan and cover from next to my front door. It's still usable, even as a dairy cake/pie dish, since the plastic handle is ancient history.

If I had found a good stainless steel replacement, I may have shelled out the money, but I didn't see any. I looked in a number of stores. So far I used the new pan and cover set once and for parve (neither meat nor dairy) cooking. I don't cook dairy for myself anymore. Yes, I'll, bli neder, blog about it, and I'll have to get used to different cooking temperatures. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Game Night

A couple of years ago when visiting the states I spotted this game, BOX OF BAD ADVICE and just had to buy it. Finally last night I gathered three good friends, and we played it.

We had great laughs together. Laughing is healthy. We didn't exactly follow the rules, but it worked for us. That's what's  most important. We must do it again!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Surprise Sandwich Discount

Tuesday night I ended up without a dinner date and without food from home, so I literally walked up and down Jerusalem's Emek Refaim Street looking for something worth buying and trying to burn some calories. It was too depressing to think of sitting by myself, while the world out there was socializing, so I figured I'd pick up a sandwich. Well, there weren't many reasonably priced sandwich options. The bagel place charged over ns20 for tuna, and the bagels are the "fake" puffy round rolls. I would have paid it if there had been real bagels, boiled and baked. They are almost impossible to find nowadays.

Suddenly I remembered the Cafe Neeman Bakery up on Pierre Koenig off of Emek Refaim. I wasn't sure what they'd have at that hour, since it's more a breakfast and lunch place.

When I entered I could smell freshly baked rolls and bread. Customers were coming in for bread and rolls to use the following morning.

I found a small selection of readymade sandwiches in long Israeli "sandwich rolls." I asked the price:
"NS18.50, but only NS15, because it's late."
That seemed in my budget, and I was hungry. And the sandwiches looked fresh. Only when I got to where I was staying did I notice that I hadn't taken the one I wanted, but there was nothing I could do. I ate the chavita, fried egg, on white bread. It had sufficient, though not a lot of, salad. It was tasty and filling. Even the full price is reasonable, being under NS20.

Each of these Ne'eman Bakeries have different selections and prices, but all seem rather reasonable. Yes, I do recommend going there.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sometimes Even I Wait

You may know that I hate waiting. It drives me nuts, but there are times when even I wait.

You may know that I try to walk a lot even up the hill to my house, but there are times when I wait for a ride.

Walking is great, but schlepping isn't.

Yes, there was no way that I could have safely walked home with those heavy bags.  So I waited for a ride. Within a minute a former student of mine came by. He actually needed to go in the opposite direction, but he wanted to help, and I didn't refuse the offer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

They Haven't Forgotten Me

It has been well over a year since I stopped working in Yafiz, Sha'ar Binyamin. I had worked there for just under six years. Besides my two main teaching jobs, that's the longest I've worked anyplace. I'm always meeting people who say I seem familiar, and the reason is that they had first met me or seen me  at Yafiz during those six years.

I can understand why many of my neighbors still think I'm working their. I don't know where they are working either. But the other day when I was paying after my my biweekly shopping trip to Rami Levy, the cashier asked:
"Aren't you working today?"
"No, I haven't worked at Yafiz for over a year." I replied.
"Rally?" She seemed surprised.
I guess I made quite an impression if I haven't been forgotten even by the supermarket staff. They and the customers were more appreciative of my work than the chain's bosses, who don't miss me at all.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Pomegranates, Definitely Worth The Mess

In recent years, I'd be treating myself to pomegranates from fall to well into the winter, even though they make an awful mess. Experts say that they are extremely healthy. When my father was living with us, we got him pomegranate juice from a neighbor who froze the juice immediately after juicing.

Pomegranates are one of those foods I don't remember at all from the states. I developed my taste for them only in recent years. Early on here in Israel we'd just have one for the "Yehi ratzon*" prayer on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. That was the only time we ever bought and ate them.

This year, the pomegranates I bought for Rosh Hashanah tasted awful, which ruined my appetite for them. I didn't buy any after that. That is until yesterday. I saw some in Rami Levy which looked so good and felt "juicy," the way they should be. Since it isn't an inexpensive fruit I just bought one. I'm so sorry about that. It was totally delicious.

Maybe the ones we got for Rosh Hashanah had been in storage from the previous year... Now, I'm in the market to buy more pomegranates. I hope I find some worth buying.

*May it be Gd's will...

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy346 kJ (83 kcal)
18.7 g
Sugars13.67 g
Dietary fiber4 g
1.17 g
1.67 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.067 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.053 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.293 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.377 mg
Vitamin B6
0.075 mg
Folate (B9)
38 μg
7.6 mg
Vitamin C
10.2 mg
Vitamin E
0.6 mg
Vitamin K
16.4 μg
10 mg
0.3 mg
12 mg
0.119 mg
36 mg
236 mg
3 mg
0.35 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Monday, January 8, 2018

Menu Bloopers

Why is it so difficult for Israeli restaurant owners to pay someone competent to check the English every time they change a menu or update their website? This is from a big restaurant chain. We ate in the Hadar Mall branch where we just couldn't ignore these mistakes.

And maybe I'm just stupid, but what is "ciabatta?" According to Professor Google, it's some sort of bread. Standard food has sure changed over the decades. But that's still no excuse for "TUNS ANDWICH" and "other practices."

What's your favorite menu typo?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Israeli Craft Beer Saga

*The Beer Bazaar has been in touch with me, and I hope to have a proper visit in the near future. I must say that they really seem to care about the service and customer relations. 

Last week visitors were here from abroad, and I wanted to show off the fantastic craft beer we now have here in Israel.  In addition, I had hoped to blog a great review of the place and the beers. Since we were in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda aka the shuq,I took them to Beer Bazaar, but it just didn't work out. I'm now in touch with the owners and hope to have a more pleasant visit in the future.

The beer mavin has been mentoring me about craft beer, and I'm a great fan of it.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Being Prepared for Electricity Problems

I gave up pretty quickly this past week when looking for Shabbat guests. It only took a couple of "negatives" to stop me in my tracks. The weather forecast was for winds, and everyone was told to prepare for "power outages," aka being without electricity. Considering that we only have electric heaters and electricity for cooking, I figured that possible guests wouldn't be very happy if the house and food were cold, plus dark and dingy.

We stocked up on "yartzeit candles" that claimed 48 and 72 hours of light. I lit two in the kitchen where I work and two by the Shabbat candles. And when I lit the Shabbat ones, I lit a lot more than usual, so in case the electricity went out while we were eating, there'd be some light.

This photo was taken after Shabbat before I put out the 48 hour candles
And now to tell you that it was just a regular rainy winter Shabbat, no drama. We had electricity, thank Gd. It was drizzling when I walked out to take a walk, so I just walked back in.  A "lazy Shabbat" is allowed on occasion. I did make it to shul and to my usual shiur, class.

Shavua Tov
Have a Wonderful Week

Friday, January 5, 2018

Before The Storm

Way back when, weather would take us totally by surprise. Sometimes we'd look at a sunset or sunrise and "predict" rain or dry weather, but the odds of our getting it right were about as bad as the weather forecasts on the news. This, of course, predated the internet, computers, smartphones and all the apps.

But in recent years, weather forecasts are sometimes spookily accurate, like when the app forecasts snow beginning to fall at 10am, and it actually does. So now people go totally bonkers "preparing" for forecasted rain storms, blizzards etc. Yes, even me.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take the recycling garbage to our little neighborhood recycling "center." I noticed a neighbor there:
"Are you also here now instead of tomorrow?" I asked her.
"Yes, if it's going to be stormy, I don't want to leave my house." She answered.

Usually, I get rid of all the boxes, bottles etc right before Shabbat, on Friday afternoon, but I had no desire to go out in the rainstorm if there really was going to be one. Nor did I want all the "junk" to stay in the house.

And, yes, it is raining today, windy, too. I plan on staying home, and I'll do my walking by walking in the house. The forecast is for rain and wind until tomorrow afternoon or evening. Considering that we've had drought most winters in recent years, I'm not complaining. I just pray that our electricity with hold up, since we have no alternative for cooking, heating and light.

Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach,
May You have a Peaceful and Blessed Sabbath

Thursday, January 4, 2018

See The Old Movie Instead

Last night my husband and I went to the Jerusalem Theater to see a play.

It really is a lovely building. We were in the small theater, where we've been before. The play was an Israeli original, Samson, based on the biblical/historical novel by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Besides having just recently studied the Biblical story/text with my Al Haperek group, decades ago I read the Jabotinsky book and saw the movie. I had good memories of both.

But I just didn't enjoy the play. It was much too much stylized Greek Theatre. The lighting, bright on black, made it hard to watch, and the booming faux "biblical" voices turned me off. I had trouble following the dialog, too.

We were sitting in the second row of the tiny theater, which was awfully overheated. One of the chief stage props was dust, and a couple of people in the audience had constant coughing fits. I was relieved that I hadn't joined them, but my throat hurt terribly throughout the play.

So, if you're curious about Jabotinsky's Samson and Delilah, I suggest googling for the movie on youtube.

The best thing about the evening was that we had gone out to dinner at Gingi Steakhouse in the Hadar Mall.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Salad Nicoise aka Tuna at Café Mansfeld

The other day I was with a group of family members from near and far at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. We took a late lunch together at Café Mansfeld, the dairy restaurant there, and most of us ordered the same thing, the Salad Nicoise aka Tuna.

I gave away my potato which, as you can see, still left me lots of delicious food to eat. Considering how much walking I had done throughout the morning and early afternoon, this simple salad was amazingly satisfying.

Cafe Mansfeld got the vegetables absolutely perfect, which isn't easy. The green beans were cooked exactly right and not overcooked. There's nothing I hate more than overcooked vegetables.

It's important to know that you can enter the restaurant without entering the museum. There's parking and lots of buses go there, too.

Besides salads, they serve soups, fish, sandwiches, coffee and the most irresistible cakes. You can reserve for groups and parties. Call 02-563-6280. 052-9709422 or email:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Disagreements Re:My Last two 52Frames Shots

This week, as Sunday, which is the deadline, was the last of 2017, the 53rd Sunday of the year, a very unusual occurrence, 52Frame's challenge was "Endings."

For me it was clear that I'd have to photograph our local Shiloh Cemetery. I managed to get down there just as the sun was beginning to set. I had the end of the day and the end of lives all in one package

I've been using my smartphone, the Samsung J7 as a camera. It really is better than the cheap camera I bought a few years ago. First I photographed it in black and white, but it looked too stark and cold. Then I tried the sepia, which gave it the warmth and character I had envisioned. The cloudy winter sky added the perfect dose of sadness.

When I consulted with member of a "subgroup" from 52Frames, I was told that the sepia was too yellow. I toned it down and added the vignette, hoping it wouldn't be too kitschy. I, davka, like the look it produced, a bit more sorrow, looking into a tunnel of sad memories, which really is the case. This is a community cemetery and I really did know almost everyone buried in it. There are so many stories...

"Cemetery Sunset"
Sad as I knew most of the people buried here. Their ends came much too soon. 
So far, there have been a nice amount of comments. Most people like the basic photo including the light sepia, while there's a split in opinion about the vignette effect.  What do you think? And why?

The previous week's photo, Black and White Minimalism, also had people either liking or hating one of the elements.

"Window Up High"
I took it in my daughter's house on a wintery day. Even though it was less than two weeks ago, I can't remember if I had photographed it in Black and White or removed the color in "post-production." Besides a bit of cropping and sharpening, there wasn't much to do. I liked the simplicity and asymmetric look of it, with the focus on the light in the perfect spot.

Comments have been almost evenly split about that lamp. Some people love it, and others find it distracting. I couldn't have removed it, though I could have turned it off. I think it adds a good visual focus of white on all the grey and black. What do you think? And why?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Yummy Health Drinks

Yesterday at the shuq, Machane Yehuda, I tried the health drinks, even though I'm not a juice drinker.  They were wonderful. And it's nice that there's a small "tasters" size cup.

I drank the lemon/mint. Is this living dangerously?

Sometimes you just have to do something different. And if it's trying one of these juices, why not?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Making Do After Breaking French Press

It was obvious to me that it was going to happen, inevitable for sure. It was always more an issue of when, than will. Yes, I broke the carafe/bowl/pot or whatever you want to call that glass part of my French Press. Kappora...

Davka, I had just bought a new stock of ground coffee to be made in the French Press. Of course, I could perk it in the percolator... But I decided on an experiment using coffee-making accessories I have sitting in the closet.

I decided to use the same principles as in the French Press, leaving the ground coffee to combine with boiling water and then filter it before it hits the mug. As you can see in the photos illustrating my morning coffee today, I used an old heat-resistant carafe/bowl/pot from a long dead and mourned electric coffeemaker. The filter was the simple, low-tech one I bought a few years ago in New York.

If you like really hot coffee, this isn't for you, but I don't have such a requirement. And coffee never comes out super hot from a French Press.

The only real change I'd make would be to add more ground coffee; I'm still experimenting with the actual coffee taste. I don't know how they roast/prepare the beans for commercial ground coffee in the states, but there's lots more flavor.

In conclusion, this is a reasonable solution to my morning coffee needs. And happily I had all of the equipment in the house. I do have a small, one cup French Press, too. But when do I ever drink just one small cup of coffee?
old parts new coffeetemporary replacementsmorning coffee "chai"#morningcoffeehaiku

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Have a Wonderful Week

According to Judaism the day starts at nightfall. Shabbat begins as the sun starts to set and ends at night when you can see three stars in the sky. The Havdala ceremony which separates the Sabbath from the rest of the week includes a candle with multiple wicks.

And many people light the Shabbat candles again, after Shabbat as a "Melave Malka" for a good week.

Blessings to all of you.
May there be good news, good health and many joyful events and news...

Shavua Tov