Friday, March 31, 2017

For Real, Jerusalem Big Blue Lions, The Champs 2017!

Yes, this was another amazing "like in the movies" game. Do the IFL's Jerusalem Big Blue Lions play any simple wins?

Besides the game's first touchdown by veteran star player #41 Binyamin Schulz, Big Blue was behind the entire game. That is until the last minute or so, when it skillfully clawed its way up to the same score as the Tel Aviv Pioneers. In that alone it made history. Never before had there been a need for overtime play in a championship game.

Suddenly there was something magic on the field. Big Blue fans crowded up close. The Pioneers somehow shrank; their fans were silent, in shock. We could all taste the impending victory. This past season, Big Blue had pulled off quite a few fourth quarter wins, and they got stronger every second. Lions for sure!

The Pioneers didn't know what had hit them. Just over a month ago, they had defeated the Lions, breaking the Lions' season long winning streak. Throughout the championship game, it looked like the Tel Aviv Pioneers would do it again. But there isn't a team in the League with the ultra-marathon mental toughness of the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions.

The game opened with the singing of Israel's National Anthem, Hatikvah, The Hope, which  ends with the word Jerusalem-Yerushalayim. It was very fitting, because in the game, the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions certainly had the "last word."

PS Praise goes to the Head Coach, who happens to be my son, Baruch Hashem, bli eyin haraa. He may possibly be the youngest Head Coach in the league, but it's obvious that he's the best!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Busy Thursday, Gd Willing JBBL will be IFL Champions

Let this yellow sky be the only disappointment today.

A sky this yellowish color in springtime Israel quite often heralds a sandstorm. And one thing I learned in our first year in Israel was not to hang out laundry during a sandstorm, because it will dry with sand thoroughly embedded in the fabric, yes, dirtier than before being laundered. So, I'll postpone doing the wash until tomorrow or next week. It's also not a good day to open up the windows and certainly not to wash them.

Yes, there are two very good reasons not to wash windows before the Passover Holiday, even though lots of people like a totally sparkling clean house.

  1. The dirt on the windows is not the forbidden chametz.
  2. There's an excellent chance of sandstorms during the Jewish Months of Nissan and Iyar. And sandstorms really dirty/soil windows. 

Yesterday I had a totally fantastic day in Jerusalem. My chevruta, learning friends, and I spent the morning in Matan attending the Pre-Passover Yom Iyyun. Dr. Yael Ziegler, Rabbanit Shani Taragin and Yael Leibowitz provided an inspiring learning experience for the hundreds of attendees who overpacked the Matan auditorium. After that we went out to lunch together, since we wouldn't be seeing each other for a few weeks.

Tonight I'm Gd willing attending the IFL IsraelBowl #10 Championships and hope and pray that the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions will be victorious!! I pray for a great game, no injuries, and that the championship will be ours. We have a wonderful team and a super-fantastic coach.

Today, until I start my trek/tremp to Petach Tikvah, I'll be busy preparing for Shabbat.

Yaala Big Blue!!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Emptying The Freezer Before Passover, Homemade Bourekas

I don't know if you can tell, but I have been using food that had "been waiting patiently" in the freezer:

I finally took out the puff pastry dough and the grated cheese for bourekas and made some. It really is easy.
  • I sliced up some onion and tomato. 
  • Then I cut pieces of the dough and stretched them out.
  • I put the 3 ingredients, onion, tomato and cheese, on half of each piece and then folded.
  • And then I baked in a medium oven until it looked ready.

Nothing can be easier! But they aren't very good for dieters, which is why it took me so long to use up the dough and cheese.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

One Man's Junk, Another's Treasure

This is the season, yes especially before the Passover Holiday, when the local email list/group has lots of letters offering "come and take it." It's a time many try to clean up by getting rid of things, or fix up and buy new. But the result is the same, there's lots available to give away for free.

Last week I sent out an announcement/offer for hangers, and within minutes three people contacted me that they wanted some. I must have gotten rid of at least fifty 50. None of the hangers had cost me any money, since they came from the "dry cleaners."

Yesterday, I took advantage of the extra week of Passover Vacation I had from work and made some changes in my room. You probably don't know, but when I worked in Yafiz, for six years, we got no special time off before the Passover Holiday. Actually, there was pressure to work more hours especially us part-time workers, because that is one of the big busy seasons in the store. And last year, when I did manage to get a good schedule with three days off just before, my father died that first morning, so I was in mourning, not cleaning mode until the Holiday.

In Israel, for good and for bad, depending on whether you're a teacher or parent of young active kids, school closes for Passover a week or more before the Holiday. In the high school where I teach, they take the students on the big annual trip the week before that, so our vacation starts a week earlier.

WOW, what a fantastic deal for me! So, I decided to make some changes in my bedroom and get rid of the bamboo shelves.

I'm not a great housekeeper at all, so these shelves had been storing all sorts of things for up to at least twenty years, since one of my daughters had given them to me. She had used them in her apartment, and they weren't new then.

So, yesterday I very slowly, so I wouldn't panic and give up, bit by bit took everything off and sorted through what I found. I threw out tons of makeup I'll never wear and was probably long past any "safe to use" date. Other things found "new homes" in the house, and the garbage can needed to be emptied a few times.

When the shelves were finally bare, I took them to the front door and sent an email to my neighbors, with a photo, of course, offering "first come first serve." Just take it!

Within minutes my phone beeped with a reply:
Oh wow I want that!
So, I spoke to her and had my husband move it to the merpeset, terrace, and wrote back to the list that they had already been reserved.

Call this a "win-win situation." And now that I've begun making some sort of "improvements" in my room, I'm getting the urge to have it painted... It's looking more and more possible that I could handle that sort of "challenge." Remember that to paint a room you have to clear the junk/possessions out first. Fly Lady would be proud of me.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Perfect Lunch, Even for Non-Dieters

I'm a firm believer that if you want to lose weight and keep it off you can't make yourself suffer. If you do, you won't be able to stick to it. When I managed to change my way of eating to get off about thirty pounds 30 lbs, 15 kg, I still ate a lot, and I made sure the food was delicious.

I refused to take the skin off the chicken, because I knew that I'd absolutely hate it and have to doctor the chicken with extra stuff, which would have calories, salt etc.

Being Blood Type* O, I really need to stay away from carbohydrates, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc. And for energy and feeling satiated I must eat a portion, one is enough, of animal protein. That lasts, while vegan meals don't. I'm starving just a few hours later. And that feeling of "starving" isn't good, because it means that your metabolism may be slowing down to protect you, and you're more likely to grab something and quantities you shouldn't be eating.

my usual vegetable base
This may have something to do with my being Type O; the only non-animal protein that keeps me satisfied for hours is sesame paste. It's very rich, and I don't even need to add anything or make it into techina. The sesame paste I buy does not have added salt. When I'm taking a meal along with me, I don't take a sandwich, I make vegetables and add the sesame paste. I store it in a container, and it's delicious and filling.

Yesterday, since I wasn't quite sure what my dinner would be, I made a special lunch. It had a nice piece of salmon and a lot of vegetables, including celery, which I don't usually find in the fridge. That meal with a bit of salad kept me nice, satisfied and functioning for quite a few hours.

Deprivation is not the way to diet or keep weight off. The best way is to eat well for your body and that includes eating frequently enough. The vegetables I cooked with the salmon are onion, garlic, squash, celery and cabbage. You can have cabbage in great quantities without it causing weight gain, but you must have some protein, too, along with something fatty or you'll be hungry soon after.

*Blood Type diet

The Blood Type Diet: An Evidence-Based ReviewThis is how each blood type is supposed to eat:
  • Type A: Called the agrarian, or cultivator. People who are type A should eat a diet rich in plants, and completely free of “toxic” red meat. This closely resembles a vegetarian diet.
  • Type B: Called the nomad. These people can eat plants and most meats (except chicken and pork), and can also eat some dairy. However, they should avoid wheat, corn, lentils, tomatoes and a few other foods.
  • Type AB: Called the enigma. Described as a mix between types A and B. Foods to eat include seafood, tofu, dairy, beans and grains. They should avoid kidney beans, corn, beef and chicken.
  • Type O: Called the hunter. This is a high-protein diet based largely on meat, fish, poultry, certain fruits and vegetables, but limited in grains, legumes and dairy. It closely resembles the paleo diet.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Rosh Chodesh Nissan in 2 Days, so Passover in 2 Weeks!

Cross-posted on Shiloh Musings

Look at the 5777 calendar:

Isn't it funny/strange/peculiar how these important dates just rush up on us without any real warning? And pretty much every year, before we've begun to take chametz for granted, it's already Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. But in the meantime, before then there are two Roshei Chodeshim, Nisan and Iyar. Please try to join us for at least one of them at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, for Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers.

Women's Prayers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5777 
Tuesday March 28, 2017 
1st of Nissan, 5777, 8:30am 
Hallel and Musaf for Rosh Chodesh 
Tour of Tel Shiloh 
Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson 
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors. 

תפילת נשים ראש חודש ניסן
בשילה הקדומה, תל שילה
יום ג' 28-3-2017
 א' ניסן, תשע"ז 8:30
הלל ומוסף לראש חודש
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

And to help you plan already for our Women's Prayers on Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, it will be on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Please mark it in your calendar/diary/event planner so you can join us, Gd willing.

If you have more questions about it, please contact me with "Rosh Chodesh" as subject. Our women's dovening isn't a version of synagogue prayers. We sing Hallel out loud and then doven Musaf individually.

You can visit Shiloh Hakeduma all weekdays. For more information call 02-994-4019.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weight Loss Saga

I'm still fighting those few kilo that snuck back on close to a year ago. I try to banish them, but they are very stubborn. Everytime I think I've gotten one off it somehow sneaks back. I started this new "campaign" months ago, and I don't think I've managed to keep off more than a few hundred grams, about a pound.

My clothes just don't fit as well as they had done a year ago and more. I keep trying to exercise more, eat less, especially carbs which aren't good for me. I'm also eating more cabbage and less carrots.

What I haven't been careful about is eating more frequently. Yes, to keep the "engines" going, the metabolism from slowing down, one is supposed to eat more frequently, have the right snacks. And that is sometimes hard to do. I ought to keep a few nuts with me for noshing, or take a "swig" of goats yogurt. I used to do that, and it did keep my weight down.

I know that if I wasn't so careful about eating lots of cooked vegetables, I would be much heavier. Could it be "age," or is that just bubba meisa, old wive's tales....?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Next: The IFL Championship Gd Willing

Last night was a thrilling match between the Jerusalem Big Blue Lions IFL Football team versus the Judean Rebels. The Rebels played hard, but the Lions played better and won, thank Gd!

Next week, the final, which will be played in Petach Tikvah. Gd willing we will win again!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Coffee Report, The Dregs
just like mine
As promised, this is a report about the ground coffee I bought in Jerusalem to use in my new, humongous French Press which has an excellent filter/plunger. If you remember, I felt the ground coffee after it was put in the bag and complained about the powdery feel. The commercial American ground coffee has larger granules and no powder.

My coffee-making experiments have taught me that the finer the coffee is ground the less suitable it is for a French Press, since it clogs up the filter. The powder, like Turkish coffee, is fine in the percolator, though and can also be used with the simple low-tech super-fine filter, which makes amazingly good coffee regardless of the type/quality.  The filter is also easy to travel with if you need to make your own coffee and don't want instant. I, davka, did that yesterday.

The Bashkovitz coffee didn't clog the filter, thank Gd, though it did leave some sludgy dregs aka mud on the bottom of the cup, which doesn't happen with American commercial coffee. No doubt they filter the powder out from the larger granules before packaging. The Kenyan beans didn't give the taste/flavor I like, but there were many others to choose from for next time I have to buy ground coffee in Israel. I'll probably also try a different store. Recommendations are welcome, thanks.

In the meantime, enjoy your coffee, however you prepare it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cleaning, Clearing and Donating

Is this Baile Rochel talking?
Could be...

How can one clean when buried under an avalanche of things?

Shuffling/transferring stuff from one place to the next doesn't really help, even if it's the only way to reach the floor. I look at my house and feel sick. I can't paint it, not just because of the expense. I just can't imagine moving everything around and then having to put it back. Just the thought of it, and I go catatonic.

Not all that long ago, the woman who coordinates the senior citizens activities sent out a notice that she would like a few music CDs, so I happily filled up a bag. I haven't bothered listening to my collection for almost four years. I got out of the habit when my mother passed away, and it was forbidden to have music on. Since then the news is on TV most of the day. But I still have too many. Now I'm at the tail end of the year's mourning for my father. Will I start listening to music when it's over? I don't know. But seriously, how many CDs do I need?

I've given away a few dozen books, but they hardly made a difference to the gazillions here and all the papers. And I must say that probably under 1% of the books are mine. So, I don't have the authority to get rid of them.

But I'm very proud and excited to say that this week I did get rid of some stuff that had been inhabiting a nice bag for years. I transferred it to a bag that we really didn't need, killing two birds with one stone! Call it "double riddance," for sure.

Yes, I got rid of lots of yarns from my hat crocheting days. OK, I'm keeping the crochet hooks. I brought them to the senior citizen center when the weaving teacher was there. My plan is to do a very different weaving project next which will incorporate the yarns I've donated. 

Granted it's a small step, but that's how we start. Step by step, nothing traumatic, nothing drastic. Isn't that what Fly Lady tells us?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Perfect Avocado

Avocados are rarely this perfect. OK, maybe I should say that it's rare to time the eating of an avocado when it's as perfect as this one. If you're a day early or a day late, it's either too hard or getting black and mushy. So, when I opened this avocado I was totally spellbound by the perfect, perfectly ripe and not a drop to be cut away.

It was so gorgeous that I "cheated" and had a slice, enjoying it even more than I would a piece of chocolate or slice of rich cheesecake. Cheesecake and chocolate are good comparisons, since calorie-wise they compete for sure. But an occasional piece of avocado in season is very healthy. And if one is vegetarian or vegan, then avocado in season is the perfect source of healthy fats, which help absorb nutrients . It doesn't have much protein, but it is great with lentils and sprouts combining into a delicious and healthy dish.

Gd willing you, too, will find the perfect avocado, and when you do, don't wait.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Progress on Weaving Project

someone else's weaving project
Yesterday at the "senior citizens" crafts activities we were back working on our weaving projects. It had been a pretty long time since we did weaving. I had brought mine home and did some work on mine at home, but not the past couple of weeks. So I was really excited about having the opportunity to devote a solid couple of hours on mine and get some feedback from others. The night before I very carefully wrapped it up with all the yarns/strings I had, so I could take it to the club house.

Everyone was amazed as I unwrapped it. They hadn't a clue as to how it was shaping up.

As soon as everyone saw it, they agreed that it's "unique." That's probably the best way to describe it.

I definitely got a lot of weaving done yesterday and had a good time socializing too. Just another few hours weaving, and it's finished, Gd willing. Then I'll bring it to the teacher so she can tie up loose ends...

PS No, I don't know what I'll do with it. Honestly, I haven't a clue.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Photographic Guide to Eating Artichokes

Yes, I did blog post about eating artichokes not that long ago, but it didn't include too many pictorial details. That's because I usually eat my artichoke on Shabbat. So last night when I ate an artichoke I took a few pictures and hope that it helps those still in the dark.

Not long ago I discovered that there still are so many Israelis, besides gazillions of others all over the world, who haven't ever tried artichokes. In our family they are considered a great winter delicacy. Of course there are those who eat them just because it's an excuse to eat mayonnaise, but that's not me. If I'm eating one "as a meal," I dip the "petal" in avocado or techina, but if it's a "snack," then I'll just use a bit of olive oil with/without freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Here's the equipment all set up:
  • lots of white napkins*
  • a bowl or plate for dipping
  • a bowl to hold the artichoke and eaten leaves

The is the part you eat.

Dip in good quality olive oil, such as Meshek Achiya משק אחיה, or whatever creamy dip you like, or just eat it straight for the flavor and no fat.

See the teeth marks? This is what an artichoke petal looks like after being eaten. Yes, there is a lot leftover.
*Since "cleaning" an artichoke before cooking never guarantees it will be perfectly clean, keep lots of napkins to wipe on both sides of the petal. The flower is closed, as you can see in the pictures.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Eeks, Pesach is Just a Couple of Weeks Away!

I always freak out this time of the year. My house is too full of junk to easily clean. Yes, I know that the best thing is to throw things out, which I must do. It would also help to use up all the food we have in the closets and freezer/fridge. That used to be the easy part, but now we're just two old fogeys rattling around the house, so food just doesn't get finished all that easily.

The freezer looks deceptively almost empty, but there's a lot of food frozen and waiting to be consumed.

The pantry also has too much leftover in quantities that can't be finished before Pesach. OK, some things may be "sold" or donated to food charities, which I'll probably do.

I am thankful to be back to teaching, since in Israel schools close more than a week before the Passover Seder, which gives me plenty of time. And, no, I will not spend every single day cleaning. But I will make goals and doable plans to clear things out.

Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L
Gd willing this year there won't be any unexpected death or other tragedy. Last year my father died just three days before the start of Passover. So I spent the days before Passover sitting shiva. This year we will commemorate his death and life by having a family seder at my daughter's, Gd willing. And we just celebrated a granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah and are looking forward to a wedding soon. So, thank Gd after a difficult year, which included the unexpected death of my brother, we should Gd willing enjoy a much better year.

I pray for good health for family and friends. And as panicky as I always get before Passover, Gd willing this year I will look forward to a cleaner, more orderly and spacious home, once I throw out what I don't really need or use. And when the school year is over, Gd willing I'll get started on the new kitchen.