Thursday, June 30, 2016

Another Great f2f, Perfect in Piccolino!

My "closed facebook group" of great women from all over the world, mostly here in Israel, had another of our face to face f2f events. This time we chose a favorite restaurant of mine, Piccolino. The fact that I had recommended it made me a bit nervous to say the least. I didn't want my friends to be disappointed, since I've been praising the restaurant since it had opened. I'm a very loyal customer.

But thank Gd, my friends were impressed with the food, service, prices, ambiance, everything! Yes, even though the food served in Piccolino is many grades higher than in your typical dairy restaurant, the prices are very reasonable and the portions very generous. Pictured here are the Antipasti and one of the Pasta dishes. The staff was very accommodating in making changes/substitutions (for special diets and food sensitivities) when requested.

At other f2f luncheons of ours in different venues, our orders had been served staggered over such a long period of time, that some of us had finished eating before others had even gotten food. And we had ordered all at once! In Piccolino, the very professional, cooperative and polite staff had everything under control, so we could all dig in to the irresistible food at the same time. And our perfectly bilingual waiter also doubled as photographer of our group shot!

The private room they had saved for us, a group of twenty women, was exactly what we had wanted. Of course, we had made reservations. For brunch and lunch, reservations are only needed for groups, but it's definitely recommended for dinner. Though they are pretty good at finding a free table or a chair at the "bar."

Piccolino is located at 12 Yoel Solomon Street, easily accessible by public transportation or car. Sunday to Thursday 10:00 – 24:00, the kitchen is open until 23:00. On Fridays and holiday eves starting from 9:00 – 15:00, the kitchen is open until 14:00 Saturday from an hour after Shabbat ends until midnight, the kitchen is open until 23:00. Reservations are recommended: Call 02-6244186

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Photo-Editing on My New Computer

Never say never...

I had always considered myself a purist as photography goes and would put down those who did too much beautifying of their photos. In  a sense I still consider it cheating, but I now realize that I'm at, or more precisely-- I've been at a terrible disadvantage, because many other doctor aka photo-edit their photos a lot, while I rarely did more than simple cropping.

Sometimes on the 52Frames page on facebook a member would post the "before and after" of a photo, and I'd feel miserable. It's bad enough that their expensive camera takes much sharper pictures, but then they have these fancy advanced photo-editing program that gets just the right colors and effects I couldn't even imagine.

Now I still have the same relatively simple and inexpensive Canon IXUS 145, but my new computer has a better photo-editing tool. I'm not quite sure what it's called...

Last night I took one photo and just kept changing it. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5am for 52Frames

Am I insane? There I was still jetlagged in the eastern direction,which is the hardest to recover from, and I still set my alarm for 4:56am in order to grab my robe, scarf and camera in time to shoot a 5am photo for extra credit. Crazy for sure. But I'm going to let you in on a secret... remembering to shoot at 5pm is sometimes more difficult, even after setting the alarm for 4:56pm. I can get so quickly distracted and waylaid in the afternoon.

52Frames can sure make me do the strangest things.

I set my alarm to get up and shot this early morning photo!

Camera: Canon Canon IXUS 145
Location: Shiloh, Israel

Critique: SHRED AWAY! I feel no pain.
This photo qualifies for the "Extra Credit" challenge: "In the Morning"

Monday, June 27, 2016

Finally Found My "Best Friend!"

Less than a year ago, I wrote a blog post, Dancing Memories, in which I mentioned that I had been looking for my childhood "best friend," Margie Gruen who is standing next to me in the photo. I had already found Lisa, who is at the other end of the picture. We have met up and are in touch. I do not remember the other two girls at all. As children we had been inseparable until she had moved away from Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, at the age of eleven. We saw each other a few times after that, but by the age of fourteen we had lost touch completely.

I guess it's one of the aspects of getting older when you feel the need to reconnect to your past, complete the circle, whatever, because apparently Margie had also been looking for me. Yes, she found me to be exact. Thank Gd for the internet and my busy public life. It was just after I had, davka, been to New York, where she lives. So we had to make do with emails and phone calls until last week when we finally got back f2f together for the first time in over half a century!!

We just found ourselves back with the same easy rapport as if we had always been in touch, as if those fifty-odd years had been together. I guess that in some ways we never really separated...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Quick Shabbat Cooking with Minimal Water

This was not quite what I had been expecting... there have been major water problems in the Shiloh and Shomron areas, as far as we've been told. While I had been in New York, my neighbors had suffered from total lack of water due to shoddy infrastructure in the Mekorot Water System. Also, usually, when I return home, especially when it's late in the week, we get invited out for a Shabbat meal, but not this time.

OK, I'm an experienced and creative housewife. I found a way to prepare delicious Shabbat meals.

One thing that helps is disposables. I did the cooking, all the cooking in the oven in aluminum pans, and I made sure that we have enough disposable dishes and cutlery if needed. I even bought more disposable gloves and "wipes." And the kettle was full hours before "Shabbat.  And there are bottles of water all over the place.

Baked Potatoes: unlike pasta and rice, you don't need any water for baked potatoes. I just slice them up a bit for quicker cooking and then wrap in foil and bake.You can't get easier than that.

Chicken: I cheated. I didn't do my usual soaking and pouring boiling water over it before baking. I just quickly rinsed the thawed (bought fresh) chicken under running water, and since we did have some water at the time I used my poultry shears to cut it into serving-size pieces. I squeezed fresh lemon juice over the chicken and added my usual paprika, black pepper and granulated garlic.

Baked in a hot oven, it was delicious as usual. Maybe I don't really need to do all that soaking etc...

Chicken Breast Plus: Since my poultry shears were out and chicken-dirty, I decided to use them to cut up the thawed chicken breast.

Over that I layered eggplant, mushroom, onion, tomato paste, fresh garlic and some oil in a disposable aluminum pan. I covered it with foil to be baked in a medium-hot oven. It tasted fine. I think it would have been even better if I had mixed up the tomato paste with oil, spices and water to make it more of a sauce.

Vegetable-Side Dishes: Yes, these too were baked in aluminum pans to save on washing, since we had no idea if there would be water. And considering that in the summer, dirty dishes and pots are a magnet for ants and other undesirables.

These are my usual variety of baked vegetables, as you can easily see. Basic ingredients, (not all in each dish,) are onion, squash, mushroom, eggplant, sweet potatoes and oil. I find that they cook more quickly in aluminum than in my ceramic or Pyrex baking pans. I suggest a medium heat.

For those of you who want specific temperatures and times, I'm sorry. Each oven is different. Also the smaller the pieces, the more quickly they cook. Just keep checking for smell and crispiness. I do not add salt.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

No Häagen-Dazs® This Visit

This blurry* ad is the closest I got to having my favorite Häagen-Dazs® mint ice cream this visit to the states. I must admit that I ate too much of other things, but none of their delicious ice cream at all.

I had a couple of yummy desserts at other restaurants, shared with cousins. My big food craving this visit, which wasn't a fun visit, was blueberries. I bought containers of blueberries whenever I could. I noshed on them a lot. And twice I had them for lunch with some soft cheese.

Häagen-Dazs® isn't as available as it once was. There are very few places you can go in and pay a fortune for a scoop or two or more. And I didn't have the time and solitude to buy a pint to call a meal of it.  Maybe next visit...

* The blur is because of the awful window of the LIRR, not because of my camera/phone.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Back Home! Plus "Only in Israel"

Yesterday, after a relatively pleasant flight home from NY to Israel on El Al, my son-in-law picked me and my bags up from the airport. Since he still had to work, and the Ben-Gurion International Airport aka "Natbag" isn't all that far from Shiloh, he dropped me off at a bus stop in Petach Tikvah that has buses to Ariel (sorry doesn't show in photo.) I ended up taking an 86 to the Ariel University stop, got a ride to the Shiloh Junction, another to the Shvut-Shiloh Junction and finally one to the pool, which is near my house. My bags arrived later, after I'd been to the pool and my son-in-law had given the kids dinner.

The upper line, not shown in photo, lists a lot of buses to Ariel

The Ariel buses are known to be very popular with Arabs, and the one I caught had many more Arabs than Jews on it. At some point, an Arab woman, with a pretty pink scarf got on. There weren't any empty seats, so she stood by the door. I had stood nearby for part of the trip until a nice young woman insisted on giving me her seat right behind the driver. I noticed that the woman had a matching pink Rami Levy bag full of matzah.

I just had to take the picture, and I knew that it was a "one shot deal." The woman next tome me though I was crazy.
"Aren't you scared?" she asked me.
"No," I answered as I put away my phone. "Did you see the matzot in her bag? I just had to photograph them."
Yes, I am really back home, thank Gd!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Anna Karenina and 52Frames

This week's theme/challenge for 52Frames was "Books," and the "special credit" was to photograph something that tells the story. I was in New York, commuting between a friend's apartment on the Upper West Side and a family member in a Long Island hospital. 

And I saw a lot of train-tracks and had very little time to do anything much besides travel and help. Photography had to stay on the back-burner, even 52Frames.

It had been quite a few weeks since I could qualify for the extra credit, so I tried to think of something I could photograph which would bring me back to a story line. Yep, the traintracks spoke to me. Nope, not to jump like Anna  Karenina, Gd forbid, but all those gorgeous leading lines...

"Anna Karenina"
Yes, those train tracks....

Camera: Canon Canon IXUS 145
Location: New York City

This photo qualifies for the "Extra Credit" challenge: "Tell the Tale"

Not every photo is a work of art, but at least I didn't miss a week!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Those Coin-Operated Laundromats

My sister and I found ourselves having to do the wash in some Long Island laundromats.  Maybe it's my imagination, but it seemed like we were the only two adults chatting in English.  I don't know how long the other customers have been in New York/ the USA but it was pretty clear that we were the minority there.

People were helpful when we seemed confused, since neither of us have recent experiences in laundromats. The only time I remember being a customer/user was when we lived in London for two years in the mid-1970's, and we didn't have a washing machine in our apartment. Then I'd take all the clothes, including  dirty diapers down the street aways and wash and dry them all.

Using laundromats is sure expensive after a while....

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Supermarket in Great Neck

For those of us who lived in Great Neck half a century ago or more, this new supermarket is where Gerts used to be. For those who knew Great Neck in more recent decades, Waldbaums used to be there. Now there's a lovely new supermarket, "Best Market."

My sister and I have done a bit of shopping there of late.  We had never thought we'd need groceries again in Great Neck....

Monday, June 20, 2016

Kiddie City Memories

For many of us who grew up in Northeastern Queens, NY, in the 1950's and early 1960's  Kiddy City amusement park was a favorite place to be. There were all sorts of rides and treats from simple merry go rounds to bumper cars to spinning cups, roller coasters and more frightening rides in which we were strapped in tightly. 

I am not quite sure when it closed down, but every time I pass its location, on the LIRR Northern Line after Bayside going east, I think of all the fun I used to have there.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Brooklyn Beer!!

When I had a family dinner at the iconic kosher restaurant My Most Favorite... the other night, I saw an irresistible sounding beer on the menu:
Brooklyn Lager Beer!
So ordered it, drank it and loved it!!

Yes, I'm AwayI

In case you've been wondering... yes I've been wandering. Here are a few photos.

More info to follow.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dessert: Ice Cream Pie

When my neighbor said that she wanted to organize women's learning on the Shavuot Holiday in my neighborhood, I volunteered to host it on the condition that she made the food. I'm not a "dessert-maker." My specialty is cutting watermelon or other fruit in season, not cheesecakes and other goodies.

We were sure we had a match made in heaven, but then she had to travel and didn't have the opportunity to make anything. She did buy some "pie crusts"and ice cream and instructed me to let the ice cream melt and then put it in the crusts. She said that chocolate syrup would be perfect on top.

This is what we did. Her daughter and I went to her kitchen, found the crusts/bases and nosh/nibbles and ice cream. I brought them home.

I let the ice cream melt a bit, took out some chocolate sprinkles and chocolate chips. And...

covered for the freezer