Friday, September 30, 2016

Self-Portrait of a Morning Coffee Drinker & Haikus

Here I am reflected in my French Press...

I've begun a "hashtag" on facebook which you can visit, #morningcoffeehaiku and here are a few of my latest, which I post most mornings:

last night worked too hard
need coffee to save me now
perking takes too long

No zing to coffee
after two mugs wanted more
I miss my Folgers

Drinking my coffee
very cold, made yesterday
efficiently good

got a good night's sleep
waiting for coffee to perk
taking much too long

cold morning coffee now
very soon season to end 
will drink coffee hot

never enough sleep
not enough zing to coffee
night shifts bad for me

PS I'm still looking for a good source for coffee that both packs a wallop and has grounds suitable for a French Press. I'm not all that happy with the Brazilian I had ground in Machane Yehuda a couple of weeks ago. Even though the salesman claimed it was strong, it's pretty wimpy compared to the Folgers I had been using and the power of Elite Turkish when perked.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Amazing Challot, A Tip and Recipe

I always feel pretty pathetic having to look up my own recipe on this blog before baking challah. Yes, I have to go into the den and turn on the computer and do a search of the blog until I find what I think may be the best version of my challah recipes. It shows not only how infrequently I've been baking them of late, but how quickly even the written copy seems to disappear.

And another problem is that the dehydrated yeast I bake with lasts forever. I can't remember the last time I actually finished one of those 500 gram packages. I've always heard that its potency lasts forever, too, but when my last attempt, before last night that is, turned a hard low-rising dud, I threw what was left out. That meant that I could no longer just spontaneously bake challah, even if I had enough flour in the house.

So yesterday, after spending the afternoon in Ofra with some of the grandkids, I popped into the local grocery store, just for some milk, and low and behold I was seduced by the shiny packages of dehydrated yeast. This time, I got a small package, just 125 grams. And then I bought some whole wheat flour the very fine 70% type from the freezer section, so it doesn't need sifting. And since my dark brown sugar was in the freezer, I bought more of that, too. Yep, I was ready to rock 'n roll! And also all hepped up to knead the dough... I don't have an electric mixer, bread machine or any help...

The new package of yeast did the trick, and while the dough was rising, I even walked around the neighborhood. The new yeast seems to have helped. Look at the photos.

The hardest part was making room in the freezer!

And here's the recipe:

This is an approximation of the challah recipe:
1 c sugar (dark brown)
2 T dehydrated yeast
a pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2c warm water
1 c oil
2 eggs for dough (medium or smallish by American standards),
an additional egg to coat the challot before baking
2 kilo of flour, which could be any combination of white and wholewheat
It's hard to know the exact quantity of flour.

mix sugar, yeast, water, oil a cup of flour
cover with plastic and let sit until bubbly and rising
add the eggs and more flour plus the pinch of coarse salt, mixing as you go, then knead until it doesn't stick to your hands coat with oil, cover with plastic and wait until it's at least doubled
"punch it down"
then "take challah," (click for instructions)
optional let it rise again
shape the challah
brush with raw egg, or spread with your fingers
let it rise
bake, start in an oven hotter than for a cake and then lower the heat until cooler than a cake after the outside begins to get a light brown
It's ready when the bottom is hard and there's a hollow sound when you tap it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Make Your Own Path... 52Frames

"...go instead where there is no path.."

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Read more at:

This week's theme/challenge for 52Frames was "Path," and I took it very literally. I didn't photograph anything paved. That meant no roads and no sidewalks. And I really couldn't stand any of my "path" pictures, so I walked around my neighborhood and found this lovely rustic scene, just seconds from my house. Then I did a search for a suitable "path" quotation which would connect it to the "challenge."

Yes, since my photos can't compete with the 52Frames "stars" and their top notch equipment, I've been very "out of the box" of late. It's now getting more fun for me again. As I had expected, this photo and certainly the meaning behind it is one of the least, if not the least popular in the entire album of hundreds. From the few comments, it seems that my meaning/intention is a bit too obscure for others to comprehend, but that's fine, too. I'm making my own path...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Returning to Jerusalem's Iconic Post Office

For those of us whose acquaintance with Jerusalem spans many decades, the big imposing and impressive post office building towards the beginning of Jaffa Street is one we'd all been in. It was where we bought our stamps for postcards, aerogrammes for long letters and made overseas phone calls to "home" there, too.

Nowadays, maybe tourists still buy stamps for postcards, and there are many who still mail wedding invitations, but I'm not sure anyone writes letters on aerogrammes. Most people communicate by phone, email, whatsapp, SMS, twitter, facebook etc. And you no longer need an operator for a long distance phone call. That, too, you can do on your smartphone, even for free via whatsapp.

Inside the post office, people were still waiting to pick up packages that had been mailed, and there were all sorts of other services being offered. I go to a post office every year to fill out a form to get what's known as "negative income tax." It's a "government gift for the working poor."

as you can see, it's an extraordinary building both inside and out

Compared to the smaller, neighborhood branches, I think the service was pretty fast. I didn't wait very long at all. You just take a number when you enter from the machine, and wait until you're called. It was much, much quicker than at the bank I had been to about a week earlier. I must remember that.

You may just want to look for an excuse to go, just to see the amazing mural and decor.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Nice Cold Water at The Kotel

As I finished dovening yesterday at the Kotel, my drinking water was finished, too. Here we are at the tail-end of summer and still need to drink a lot. Water fountain water is not all that tasty, but just as I was about to force myself to drink some, I noticed the "water truck."

I figured I'd give it a try. Since there were plastic cups hanging over the spouts, I didn't immediately pull out my empty bottle. The truck offered two types of water, plain cold and flavored. I took the plain cold which was wonderfully refreshing. And then I filled my water bottle!

And I walked out of the Kotel area and onto my dinner date.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

For a Healthy Year, How about a Fruit Head!

head for 5775
Last week my friend Rose and I were wandering about Machane Yehuda, and we spied some "heads," not at all like the heads I make for the Rosh Hashana table. These were big raw meaty ones. She took some photos, and I, for whatever reason, didn't. They really looked disgusting.

OK, granted that people don't put raw heads on their table, but expect for the pre-Rosh Hashana season, not too many people are in the market to buy an animal head to cook as a centerpiece.

And yes, this is my reminder that there is a nice pretty enjoyable way to to have a Head centerpiece to bless your family, loved ones and guests for a healthy new year. Make a "fruit head." More and more families are adopting my custom every year. Enjoy!

Shana Tovah, Metukah u'Briyah!
May You have a Good, Sweet and Healthy New Year!

 Fruit Head for a Healthy Jewish Year, 5776

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Easy One-Pot Chicken Meal

OK, just to be totally honest, I must admit that although I call this a "One-Pot Meal" I serve it with more foods. I served this on Shabbat to my husband and a couple of guests. There were also a nice fresh salad and two other vegetable dishes. But I didn't bother with an additional carbohydrate, and most people would find this enough with either a fresh salad and/or additional vegetable.

Of course, you can always cook this with more potatoes and/or carrots. I actually added another potato before putting it in the oven.  Be sure to put the squash, if you use it, inside the chicken, or it will burn, since it cooks more quickly than any of the other ingredients. And vegetables should be cut in large pieces or not at all.

1 whole chicken
a couple of carrots
a large squash or zucchini
a potato or more
an onion
some garlic
paprika, black pepper and whatever you like

I baked it in an old Farberware, stainless steel pot, that had "lost" its handle. I started baking it without a cover, and after about a half an hour, I covered it with aluminum foil. It baked for a couple of hours, high heat. Use whatever heat your oven manufacturer recommends. Probably an hour and a half would have sufficed. It depends on the size of your chicken. This was a small one, which is why not all of the vegetables fit inside.

Everyone enjoyed the meal, and this sure is a good way to utilize an old pot of fantastic quality.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Instead of The Usual Shabbat Wine... Israeli Beer

A few years ago, my friend Doug, of  Israel Brews and Views, got me hooked on Israeli craft beers. Since then, I've even been a panelist at tastings he has run. And I also attended a beermakers session at Biratenu in downtown Jerusalem. 

Not that long ago, it was very hard to buy Israeli craft beers in stores; you had to find the beermakers by word of mouth. But I've had some from the larger ones in restaurants in the shuq (Machane Yehuda) and now there are quite a few stores selling them.

The big problem is carrying the bottles home. They don't sell brands like these in Rami Levy, Sha'ar Binyamin, sigh. I would love to drink these Israeli beers on Shabbat instead of wine. Someday, Gd willing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quest for Good Ground Coffee in Jerusalem

Of course, I can just perk Elite Turkish when I'm all out of American coffee... Yes, that's what would be easier. Except that I especially like my cold brew in the French press, which I've been making recently. It's extraordinary, especially when using the Folgers I brought back from New York. But all good things must come to an end, and even that super-giant size container only lasted a couple of months, even though I didn't use it every single day. Turkish coffee is too powdery for a French Press; it's great for cooking/perking. It stays in the "box" of the percolator, but it's too fine for a French Press. I've also used it in my fine coffee filter, though it sort of clogs it a bit.

So I needed to find a source of coffee in Jerusalem. There are quite a few places that will custom-grind your coffee for you. The other day I was in Machane Yehuda with a  friend and we went into one of those treasure houses of stores, in which you can get all sorts of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, dried-spiced vegetables, flavorings, spices and coffee, beans and ground to order. This one is "Shuq Hatavlinim," "Spices Market," on the main drag, 18 Machane Yehuda Street.

You can get an idea from the photos above. Since the coffee isn't cheap, I decided to choose between the two least expensive beans, Colombian and Brazilian, both NS12 per 100 grams. I asked which was stronger, and I was told to take the Brazilian. A comment on an earlier post about coffee, someone suggested tasting the ground coffee. So, this time, I first asked for a tiny sample of the coffee ground as coarsely as possible for a French Press. And of course, the salesman complied. It wasn't quite a coarse as American packaged coffee but I figured that I'd give it a try. I bought 200 gram, and today was the day.

This morning's facebook haiku:
cold brew coffee now
beans ground in Jerusalem
Brazilian, tasty
Last night I prepared the cold brew:

placed 3 heaping Tbls in carafe 
added water, stirred before chilling
Here's the coffee!
It's a bit too weak, so I'll try it with more coffee next time. Also there seemed to be a bit less coffee than usual. But the good part was that in the morning all of the coffee grounds had sunk to the bottom of the carafe, and I didn't have to stir very hard, which is necessary with American coffee. At least it was necessary with the Folgers. I'd need to experiment with freshly ground American coffee, like I've gotten in Fairways. It may have something to do with the manufacturing of ground coffee that keeps the grounds very hard. Also, it may be that my freshly ground beans absorbed more water, and that's why there was a bit less coffee for my cup/to drink.

PS As you can see, I've started a facebook hashtag, #‎morningcoffeehaiku‬ which you're welcome to join.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hand it to 52Frames

This week's challenge for 52Frames was "Hands." I must admit that after about three years, never missing a week, I'm on the verge of burnout. And I do find it rather depressing frustrating that some of my favorite photos, of those I've submitted, are ignored. There is an unofficial competitive bent in all this. There are well-heeled professionals with the best of equipment, and there are amateurs with top-notch equipment. And there are members with lots of enthusiastic friends who always "like" their photos, and then there are members like myself with bargain equipment and fewer fans, if any.

Hands aren't all that easy to photograph. My previous tries, other years, were worse than pathetic. Davka during the days I could take the photo, which must be only from early Monday morning, Israel Time, to the following early Monday morning, I wasn't any place good for the "challenge." I did sneak a couple of shots on the bus one day. And I had taken a photo of my husband's hands last year and mine the year before... Neither were decent photos.

Then all of a sudden, as I left the pool last Friday, the last day it was open this season, I got a brainstorm. It suited my mood. I felt I'd be mocking the whole super-sharp macro, wrinkled, hairy hand scene. My brainstorm would be like hanging a "fingerpainting" next to some dainty Japanese landscape painting. For the "hands" I took my bright blue swimming gloves and placed them on the edge of the pool. I took a few pictures, some with and some without the flash. I didn't use Automatic mode.

Swim HandsI wear these swimming gloves when in the pool. They add to my upper body exercise, and friends with poor eyesight recognize me by my blue gloved hands. We have now ended our pool season here in Shiloh. I hope to wear these "hands" in other pools over the next nine or so months before the local one reopens.
Ironically, there are people who like this photo, and it certainly stands out. It's totally different from all the others. And you should know, that I used the flash for this photo. Even though the sunlight was extremely bright at the time, this photo with the extra light is much more interesting and striking than the one without the flash. Recently, I haven't been using the Automatic flash, in which the camera chooses if flash is needed. Either I prefer no flash or even if there's light, I want the addition of the flash.

This was taken seconds before, but without the flash.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Finally Ate at Jerusalem's Iconic Rachmo's

For years I'd heard of this excellent, simple low-price meat restaurant Rachmo. It's just off the the main part of the Mahane Yehuda Open Air Market, which has gone rather yuppy or upscale in recent years.

You can get anything from low price carrots to boutique fashions to fancy jewelry, or bargain clothes or yummy fruit or even pet accessories. There are lots of bars, and even more open at night when the vegetable stands close. This is your shopping center of multiple personalities.

Rachmo is located at 5 Eshcol St, Jerusalem, phone 02-623-4595. It's less than a block from the original Rami Levy grocery store which has blossomed into a large Israeli chain of discount supermarkets. My friend and I could see it from the window by our table.

Before finding ourselves at Rachmo, my friend and I had wandered around the shuq looking for a place to eat. We like simple, healthy and inexpensive meals, preferably something we don't make at home. Although Machne Yehuda is known for bargains, we found many of the restaurants too expensive. And even though we were there on Monday, a relatively quiet day for shopping in Machane Yehuda, it was too noisy. Some of the noise came from renovations and other noise was the "music" playing in the restaurants which chased us away. That's why we ended up on the side street. When we saw the Rachmo sign, we decided to check it out, mostly out of curiosity but with a large dose of hunger, too.

For us Rachmo was an oasis of calm and quiet. The prices looked good, too. And, yes, of course it's Kosher. We had to line up with a tray by the opening to the kitchen, where we asked for food from the pans, pots and trays. They didn't have everything on the menu; I had wanted to try their musakka. But instead we both had Kubbe Soup. It was delicious, homemade style, just perfect. And it only cost NS33-

Yes, the soup is a meal. For us it was a perfect lunch! And next time I'm there, I hope they have Moussaka, and if they don't I'll be happy to try something else.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Season Ended, Sigh...

Why must all good things come to an end? Especially healthy facilities should be open forever. Yes, you may have guessed the problem. Pool season is over, sigh, rant, cry, shout and complain. Right?

This year the pool water seemed even warmer than in recent years.

That may be because I was in New York (seeing my brother before he did) for the opening days, and the unseasonably supre-hot weather in June quickly heated the water before my return. And don't think I missed pool days. In a sense I didn't even though I wasn't home the first week or more the pool was open. Luckily I spent most of that visit staying with a friend who has a pool in her building.

This year's pool season was much too short, and each year more and more neighbors are retiring or working less. We want more pool time!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shiloh Night Scene

Tonight, after Shabbat, I went down to a neighbor's house to hear of her trip to China and teaching Chinese Hebrew and some Tanach, Bible. When I stepped out, I saw the amazing Mishkan, Tabernacle synagogue all lit up.

Recently, there has been major renovations done to the synagogue, which includes the lighting. I think it's gorgeous.

Now, if you're not yet aware, the synagogue was designed to follow the description in the Bible of the Mishkan, which was a traveling/portable tabernacle, prayer hall, used by the Jewish People during the forty years wandering the wilderness from Egypt to the Holy Land, and then reassembled on a permanent platform in Shiloh, where for 369 years it was the forerunner of the Holy Temple later built in Jerusalem. And the Biblical location of Shiloh is today's Shiloh, where I live. So, when the families that first moved to Shiloh in the late 1970's wanted to build a large community synagogue, it was obvious that it had to resemble the Biblical Mishkan, Tabernacle.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Easy Care Pet?

It seems that whenever I look at my kitchen window "the creature" is there. Just as I was about to turn off the "Shabbat light," there he was.

And when the Bezeq guy was changing our cables the other day, he was there, too.

As long as he eats bugs and cleans up his own messes, he's welcome to stay.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Trying Something New at Piccolino

I took this photo for 52Frames just
before walking in. 
This week my "chevruta," learning group for the Matan Al Haperek Tanach (Bible) course met for a festive lunch in Piccolino, the best dairy restaurant in Jerusalem. They gave us a table in a quiet place, since we planned on doing our weekly learning there after eating.

Instead of my usual salads, I decided to have the "Soup of the Day," which was lentil and their Eggplant Parmesan. They were both totally delicious!

My friends had the Health Salad, Seared Tuna Salad and the Antipasti, which were all praised. Piccolino is strictly kosher, Mehadrin. As you know, I have eaten there many times with family, friends and even when alone. Enjoy!

רחוב יואל משה סולומון 12 ירושלים
12 Yoel Moshe Solomon Street, Jerusalem