Monday, June 26, 2017

Wabi Sabi, The Beauty of Imperfection

I had never heard of the term Wabi Sabi before it became an annual challenge on 52Frames.

"Fallen Rose"
I love the photo, but it was pretty much ignored by the other members. The same happened with last year's picture.

"Lonely Leaves"

What's funny is that they were taken barely two meters from each other.

What do you think?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Funeral in Ariel, Jewish Burial Customs

It was one of those midnight funerals which are very common in Israel, especially after Shabbat. According to Jewish Law, we are required to bury the dead as soon as possible, preferably on the same day.  So, especially when someone dies on a Friday, if the funeral can't be held before Shabbat, then it's held a few hours after Shabbat is over. And in Jerusalem, Shiloh and some other locations, it's very common for someone who had died on Shabbat to be buried after Shabbat. Yes, even religious Sabbath-observing people manage to get the news out quickly enough after Shabbat.

Davka, last night two young neighbors were burying parents, one in Jerusalem and one in Ariel. The community's email and tremp Whatsapp groups were full of offers for rides to both. Of course, since both were at the exact same time, we had to choose.

I went to the one in Ariel. It was the first time I had been in that cemetery, the New Ariel Cemetery, as it's called.

Grave stones reflect the culture of the community buried there. As you can see, there's lots of Russian written on the stones here, besides Hebrew. And there are also all sorts of flowers and other decorations I don't usually see in Israeli cemeteries.  It's not the style of the graves in Shiloh or Elkana. Families are given a lot of leeway according to Jewish Law. There are also Jewish cemeteries that have a requirement of uniform stones. That's what I saw where my aunt and uncle are buried in Florida. In the Long Island cemetery where my parents and brother are buried, there's a variety of stones, but nothing as creative as these. But I've seen some very interesting ones in Har Menuchot in Jerusalem.

May Gd give comfort to the mourners...
המקום ינחם

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Growing Grapes, Report

Our grapes are growing but still far from edible. The neighbor who shares them with us for making wine has now covered them with netting and added some wasp traps.

I've also been asked to water them periodically, every few weeks, which I've done. Now we still have a couple of months to wait until they are ripe, delicious for eating and winemaking.  Further reports to follow, Gd willing.

Friday, June 23, 2017

"One Pot" Baked Chicken and Vegetable Feast

Since you can't really see everything in here I'll list the ingredients under the photo. 

  • sliced onion
  • sweet potato
  • chicken breast
  • zucchini
  • pumpkin
  • pepper
  • and a bit of vegetable oil

I baked it in a "medium plus*" oven, first uncovered and then covered with foil.

When you cook like this, you don't need to add salt, since the flavors intensify and interact. You can certainly add other vegetables or leave out some. I like using the onions as a base for this sort of meal. You can make it with fish, beef or chopped meat/poultry. Or you can leave out the chicken completely and have it as a vegetarian dish. If you substitute tofu, then add some soy/tamari sauce or tomatoes.

If you want more "tang" to it, then add fresh garlic or ginger.

Think of my recipes as "suggestions." If you try it, please let me know how it comes out and what changes you made, thanks.

*Exact temperatures will have to wait until I redo the kitchen and get one of those new ovens. Mine if very old, and the temperatures, which were never very accurate to begin with, must be guessed at by moving a dial that no longer has numbers around it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yummy Strong New Coffee

Dunkin' Donuts ain't what it used to be!

I no longer have to make do with my perked Elite Turkish coffee, at least for the next month plus. A new supply, (two 1 pound bags,) of coffee has arrived from the states via a friend. It was definitely worth waiting for!!

This is not the Dunkin' Donuts I remember. This is a nice strong dark coffee and highly recommended. And it suits the French Press perfectly. I have no doubt that it'll be great cold brewed, too. I wouldn't waste it in the percolator.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What's Your Favorite Movie?

The other day, I had a few hours at home for cooking and simple chores. Now that I'm finally finished with the year of mourning for my father, I'm enjoying music and watching musicals on the TV's DVD. I pulled out one of my long time favorites, "Five Pennies."
Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to pursue his dream of playing Dixieland jazz. He forms the "Five Pennies" which features his wife, Bobbie, as vocalist. At the peak of his fame, Red and Bobbie's daughter, Dorothy, develops polio...
I first saw the movie on television when I was a kid and found it very moving, besides the fantastic music. I love corny movies, and I love musicals. This is the type of movie that can easily bring tears, and I'm not the crying type at all. It's not a musical in the sense that Guys and Dolls, Brigadoon or Dreamgirls are but the music and storyline are so amazing. Even though I've seen it dozens of times,  we do have the DVD now, I hate missing a second of it and press pause if I have to leave the room.

I have a large collection of DVDs, and some I've seen numerous times. This is one of them!

What is your favorite movie and what do you like about it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Faux Chinese But Really Tasty Chinese Vegetables

In the culinary world of my childhood, "Chinese food" as we knew it wasn't very Chinese. And so, my concept of Chinese cooking is rather faux, very "Jewish" 1950's, though very tasty.

By the time we sat down, there was double the food on the table.

For my Book Club, we decided to go Chinese this week, since we read, or more accurately for most if not all of us, reread The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.

I made vegetables. You can use any and not stick to what I cooked. Actually only now that I'm writing the recipe I remembered that I had planned on using some fresh ginger, too. Here's what I cooked:
  • onion
  • garlic
  • carrot
  • peppers
  • squash
  • mushroom
  • kohlrabi
  • celery

As you can see, I cut them all into strips of sorts and put it all in a big pot, added a bit of oil, covered and let it cook a bit, not too much. Then I added some "soy"or Tamari sauce, sprinkled some sesame seeds and turned off the heat.

A culinary purist would find it awfully fake, but for me it's "Chinese enough" and absolutely delicious. Give it a try.

PS we had a wonderful time at the Book Club meeting. We got a lot out of the discussion and the book.

And keeping with the Chinese theme we had "fortunes" sans cookies, since most of us are trying to keep weight off.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wow! Kids are Growing Up, Bli Eyin Haraa

Last night I was privileged to attend my granddaughter's 8th grade graduation.

It was very impressive. And I was totally impressed by the staff and the sense of responsibility the girls, who are barely fourteen years old, took to make the ceremony a success.

This year half our grandchildren are "graduating" some sort of educational framework and will learn to deal with new challenges next year, Gd willing.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's This? ¿Qué es Esto?

Does anyone recognize it?
Do you have any guesses?
Let's hear from you. OK?
Caption This!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Before and After, Think for 52Frames

A few days ago, I blogged about the photo I had submitted to 52 Frames for the "Think" challenge and promised to reveal the original photo. So, here they are:

After lots of editing, this is what I sent to 52Frames

This is the Chords Bridge in Jerusalem.
The theme was "think," and one of the suggestions was to turn reality upside down. That's what  I did. What do you think?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Finally Music and Joy After Long Mourning Year

According to Jewish Law and custom, one observes a year of mourning for a parent and thirty days for a sibling, spouse or child. During that year of mourning, one is to refrain from attending joyous, musical and festive events. That is unless it is your profession to perform or teach. Also, with "adjustments" one can attend the wedding or other type of joyous occasion for a close relative.

Even though the year for my father was over before Passover, two and a half months ago, only now have I gotten to attend any "joyous events." And that ended up one night after the next. And if I could have split myself in half I would have been at two events the first night. But since I work late Wednesday, I couldn't make the wedding we had been invited to, so I went to a granddaughter's piano recital.  It was thrilling to hear the improvement, since I hadn't been to one for over a year and a half.

And last night I dressed up to finally attend a wedding, which was great fun, but rather disorienting. I really felt that it was strange to be back at such events. I had missed so many significant weddings during the past year. It really brought me that feeling that my year was different. Israelis generally do rather large weddings, so one gets invited even if not all that close. But during the year I was mourning my father, friends celebrated weddings that also meant a lot to me, and they found my absence sad, too.

That's life. There are times we mourn and times we celebrate.

Shabbat Shalom and Good Health to All

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Kitchen Update #1

A few months ago, I blogged here that we're in the market for a new kitchen, since ours is over thirty years old and just doesn't provide what's needed, besides the fact that some closets haven't held up all that well.

Besides talking about it and starting to look carefully at what friends have done recently, I hadn't spoken to any kitchen stores or carpenters until yesterday. Finally, I found myself in the part of downtown Jerusalem that has a number of kitchen specialty companies. Unfortunately, as it was Tuesday afternoon, a few were closed.

The first place I entered was a big showroom on Shlomzion Hamalka Street which had something I really like!

I don't know how clear these pictures are, but the things that excited me are the "handles," or lack of them. In Hebrew they are called yeddi'ot integraliot, and from my guess -confirmed by the young woman working there- in English they are probably called "built-in handles."

Especially in a smallish kitchen which doesn't get cleaned much, I think that these are much better than regular "handles." I think they're safer, too. Handles can injure and damage things. And sometimes they are awfully difficult to clean. So, that's one new feature I'm going to request.

Since I had time, I entered a few more stores. For some strange reason, I was ignored. As many of you know, I worked in a clothing store for almost six years, and I always made a point of greeting everyone who came in. Some Israelis did find it "peculiar," since it isn't the norm here. But honestly, I think that these high-end places would do much better if they were friendlier.

Actually, in the last store a young woman did ask how she could help, so I mentioned to her that I have a basic idea of how my new kitchen should be planned. I just didn't see one of the features in the store. I want one of the two sinks in a corner. I asked if they do it. She told me that it was an awful idea and that she had a lot of experience. So I replied:
"I have a lot of experience. I'm married forty-seven years." And between you and me, that's close to double her age!
I also explained that I need two separate sinks, not side-by-side or attached. She argued about that, too, trying to tell me that it makes more sense to have them together "and we even have a very large one which I will show you." I think I should get an award for self-control on that one, since her suggestion was so awful. The "sink/sinks" was just one with a very low divider. I told her that it was totally unacceptable.

She then gave me a business card and told me to contact their designer and "be open-minded." Well, I won't be back there.

As an experienced salesperson, I know that one of the keys to a successful sale and happy customer is listening. I had made it clear that I had a basic plan, but she considered her job to tell me what would be better without caring what my needs are. That was ZIV KITCHENS on Corush Street, Jerusalem.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Think! Interesting Challenge from 52Frames

"Alternate Reality"
I must admit that this week's challenge has proven most challenging. I kept reading and rereading the email with suggestions. And then finally certain words Yosef wrote hit me:"change the way reality normally looks"I trust some of you will try to guess what was photographed. My plan is, bli neder-a Hebrew phrase meaning "not an oath," to blog about it later, after giving people a few days to guess, and show the original photo alongside. In the meantime, keep guessing. 
I just wonder if anyone can correctly guess what I photographed.  Does anyone recognize it? My plan is to post the original in a couple of days. In the meantime, Think and guess.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush... Yum

As I was growing up, that song/dance was a constant. I've known it all my life. But to be perfectly honest, I couldn't pick out a mulberry or mulberry bush to save my life.

A couple of weeks ago, a Shabbat guest brought us a bunch of small berry-like fruit from her garden and said that they are mulberries. They were from her garden, and she also told us that there's a mulberry tree in the little park right across from our house.

Local kids like to eat straight from the tree, although the berries actually tend to have bugs that should be rinsed out.

The mulberries were delicious, and I'm glad to finally know what they look and taste like.

Apparently, they are extremely healthy and rather low in calories, too.

Monday, June 12, 2017

and Another Mosaic Begun

Yesterday was another chance for me to do mosaics with the "senior citizens." OK, I'm a senior citizen, golden-ager, alte kocke or whatever term you prefer. I started a new project. Here it is:

PS Please don't ask me what it is. OK?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

‪#‎morningcoffeehaiku‬ Tasty Genre

Yes, I'm still coming up with ‪#‎morningcoffeehaiku‬'s almost every morning. But I must admit that it does get harder. Even if you're not a coffee drinker, you may like them.

Bright morning coffee
My Jewish Birthday today
I must celebrate

Bright Sunday Morning
I need very strong coffee
Waking up is hard

Enjoying coffee
Only a few days remain
Bright summer sun day

Bright morning coffee
French Press coffee stock soon gone
Then will have to perk

Coffee sans sunrise
need to leave early today
so awfully tired

Enjoying coffee
perfect way to start the day
And soon to the pool

Bright blue summer sky
Strong hot wake-me-up coffee
Perfect start to day

woke very early 
saw sun over horizon
drinking my coffee

Too tired to wake up
Last night food too much too late
Coffee to rescue

Super busy day
certainly fueled by coffee
keeps engine going

Enjoy to the very last drop, or granule...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Coffee Saga, Dwindling Stock

This is all that's left of my 3 pound can a friend brought me from Costco. It is good for another day or two, that's barely two months of coffee, great coffee. So it looks like I'll be perking Elite Turkish again. I'll have to restock that, too. And I'll also try some freshly ground Israeli, even though it's ridiculously overpriced and too finely ground.

I wonder if I can "cold brew" Turkish... And then I can pour it through the special coffee filter. OK, bli neder (not a vow) I'll let you know how it comes out.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Maybe Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman Because of Her Daring to Wear Flats

I guess you can also say that Wonder Woman has made flat shoes sexy.

As someone who hasn't worn high heels ever in the past forty something years, and I never wore really high heels, I'm very happy to see these photos.

From what I understand, there are women who insist that heels are more attractive, since the contracted calf muscles make the legs more shapely. The extremely fit and athletic Gal Gadot has sufficient shape without the heels. And her body seems so much more comfortable than the rest of the celebrities trying to stay well balanced and  graceful with their feet contorted, hobbling on barely a third of each foot.

There's an energy and posture in the way Gadot and others move and stand which is a lot more exciting than that of a woman in heels or a platform shoe. It's much more modern, feminist and sexy for sure.

PS Women in flats is so old-time Israeli!