Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tasty Vegan Cafe in the Shuq

Yesterday I had a lunch date with my favorite vegan and decided to look for a very special venue. Of course, being that we were meeting in Machane Yehuda aka the Shuq/Shuk there were plenty of the usual Israeli falafel and hummus joints to choose from. But I wanted something that felt cleaner, more refreshing and even, if you'll excuse the expression,  female.

Suddenly I remembered that I had once heard that the Natural Choice Bakery on the corner of Agrippas and Shiloh Streets, which I had happily patronized before going "low carb," had opened a "coffee shop." I hadn't a clue of what the menu was or if it even still existed. So, I entered the bakery, looked around and didn't see any sign of a cafe. So I asked and was told that it was nextdoor. And then I found it, the Natural Choice Cafe.

It's a lovely cool, serene oasis in the hectic shuq. I chose a table and waited for my "date" to arrive. While waiting I read the menu. If you click the photos of the menu, you can enlarge them for easy reading. As you can see there's a large variety of foods and drinks to choose from.

When she arrived we ordered two of the salads, the Chopped and the Nourishing and shared them.

Both salads were delicious and very filling, even though they don't look all that big.

Since we had time and wanted the meal to be extra festive we also shared dessert. Of course it was all vegan, including the "milk" in the coffee and the "cheesecake" made with cashews.

The Natural Choice Cafe is located at 111 Agripas Street, right next door to the Natural Choice Bakery, 02-622-3229. Hours 7:30AM - 9:00PM.

You don't have to be vegan to enjoy the food served in the Natural Choice Cafe. You can take my word for it!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Best Beers are Not For Sale

rather early in the evening when you could still walk freely and see the lawn

Doug Greener,
Israel Brews and Views

Last week I really enjoyed attending the Jerusalem Beer Festival in Independence Park. It was added fun to find myself with former neighbors from our Jerusalem days, close to four decades ago. Doug Greener introduced me to the wonderful craft beers now available in Israel, if you go to the beer festivals and/or know the right people.

I was also with some of the "beer tasting crew," and we really really enjoyed sampling the beers which sadly can't be found in stores. I stress "sadly," since I did enjoy them more than the beers one can buy and drink any place.

Sorry, but I didn't take notes, so I can't give very specific reviews about the beers I tasted. I did ask most if I could buy a bottle to take home, but the answer was always "No." They are being produced for fairs and special events, but not for small customers like myself.

Tog תוג had some interesting beers, Masala and Kimat Almost 10. Both had nice rich flavors.

Shapira, which is one of the larger commercial "small" companies, joined forces with the Dancing Camel to produce a beer flavored with Mint. And you may know that I absolutely love mint. At first glance, mint doesn't seem to be suited to beer, but it does work. If it's ever produced in commercial enough quantities for me to buy some, then please let me know, thanks.
Soof is a craft beer company from Eilat. They are available there in the bars, from what I understand.  If you're in Eilat, look for their beer. We were very impressed. Maybe the "panel" should take a business trip...

Going from stand to stand, craftbrewer to small Israeli beer brewer... there was a great variety of beers in taste and quality. One company, Herzl Brewery produced both the worst and one of the best IMHO.

I really did not like the one with Cuban tobacco. My tasting partners tasted it first and claimed they didn't taste any tobacco or cigarette in the beer. Then I took a cup of it. First I took a long sniff, to see what aroma came from the innocent looking beer. It smelled like a room in which people had been smoking and had forgotten to open the window.

Afterwards, to both give them another chance and to "clean" my palate, I had their sweet beer which was one of the best in the beer festival.

This Jerusalem Beer Festival was the very first beer festival I've ever attended. The entrance fee only gives you entrance and nothing more. It was clear that some people went for the music and entertainment. The beer cost money, so take that into account. Some brewers even charge for small tastes of the beer. The prices were pretty uniform, NS20 for a third and NS25 for a half, and you drink from plastic cups. There was also food for sale, so you could make a nice evening there with friends.

Even though I left pretty early, the grass was already full of lounging visitors listening to the music, and some were even drinking beer. For me the night out with friends was long enough; I needed to catch a bus, which I did, thank Gd. And I'm looking forward to attending more beer festivals.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Shakshuka Plus

Last night I decided to make myself a Shakshuka, but no real surprise, I tweaked it into something a bit different. Shakshuka is "poached eggs on tomato sauce."

Most people eating shakshuka mop up the sauce with bread or pita, but since I do my best to stay away from delicious carbohydrates like breads of all varieties, I knew that I needed to add something more filling to the "sauce." And to be honest, my sauce wasn't really a sauce.

 My "sauce" consisted of two tomatoes, an onion, some garlic, a squash, a couple of slices of fresh ginger, some peppercorns and a pepper sauteed with some oil in a covered pan.

Once the vegetables were well cooked, I added the eggs and covered it again. I didn't bother making the vegetables into more of a sauce, since having something to chew is more filling. And when you're trying to lose weight, you want a low-calorie low-carb meal to be as filling as possible.

Yes, the shakshuka I made for dinner is very similar to my breakfast "vegetable omelets." But the shakshuka was made with more vegetables, and recently I've been eating a different sort of breakfast. That means that I can eat eggs as protein at other times of the day. After years of being maligned, eggs are finally being rightfully praised by nutritionists as fantastic, healthy and easy to digest proteins.

After adding the eggs, I turned off the heat, since eggs cook quickly in a hot pan. You may certainly add herbs and spices and other vegetables to your shakshuka. It's one of those great dishes that lends itself to all sorts of creativity.

My Dinner Shakshuka was delicious.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Craft Kit Rip-off

 You may have read my post from a few days ago about the lovely work, design and assembling, my not yet seven year old granddaughter had done with the beading supplies I had picked up in a Jerusalem Hobby supply store.  Not only had she chosen the beads I had bought for her teenage sisters, but I had looked forward to making necklaces from them, too. There was nothing at all childish in her taste and designs.

When I went over yesterday to spend time with the kids, I thought of bringing the bag of beads and clasps along with me, but since they have an arts & crafts supply closet at home, so I didn't.

I found a "necklace" kit, which had never been opened/used.

It wasn't quite as creative as the variety of beads I had purchased, but it looked interesting. So we opened it and checked the possibilities. We carefully followed instructions, and she used up all the usable* supplies making necklaces. We pasted what needed to be pasted with the enclosed glue and left everything to dry.

No surprise of course the glue didn't stick, and everything just fell apart. It did keep her busy for awhile, but that is all the kit accomplished. I just have to get more supplies from the regular hobby places. And while I'm there, I'll look for projects to suit her cousin, the young manicurist, too.

*One necklace clasp didn't work, glitter glue had dried out, and there weren't enough backings for the tiles.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Perfect Manicure

The most adorable and talented three year old rushed to get me the lilac nail polish she had picked out for me when in New York, and she painted my nails so perfectly. Not a single drop on my skin. She does a better job than I do.

I'm not going to redo my nails for a long time!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

One More Week of Pool Season

Unless I hear otherwise, there are only six more swim days to the end of pool season here in Shiloh. We generally have three months exactly, and this year it opened the first of June. Those of us who go for a swim almost everyday are already mourning the closing of the season.

I've felt such an improvement in my body even in such a short season. My clothing fits much better, even if I've only lost a couple of pounds, barely a kilo. Not only do I love to exercise in the water, but I can do things in the water I can't do on land. I must find a pool nearby and fit at least one swim/exercise session into my week.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Jerusalem Beer Festival Preview Post

I had a fine time with friends sampling the great variety of Israeli craft beers. Many were extremely creative. Who would have thought to add mint or tchai tea or coriander seeds to beer? Well, there are people making such beers, and I tasted them and liked them.

Some of the best beers are only for festivals. They are experimental and not produced in enough quantity to be sold in stores.

The only one of the beers I really didn't like  had Cuban tobacco leaves. It tasted like stale cigarette smoke. My friends said they didn't taste the cigarette in it, but they hadn't taken a good whiff first.

I'll blog in more detail about the festival in a few days, bli neder, Gd willing. And just that you know, the brewers that used the tobacco leaves made a different beer which I liked a lot. So Stay tuned, and you'll read more. Doug of  Israel Brews and Views will post about it in more professional dental. He's the real Israeli craft beer expert.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Beading and More at "Camp Saba-Savta"

As my friend Debbie wrote, here in Israel it's very common for grandparents to conduct what are known as Kaytanat Savta, Camp Grandma to help entertain the grandchildren over the summer. When we do it, my husband also helps, so I'll call our camp "Camp Saba-Savta," Camp Grandpa-Grandma."

Even before my husband was retired from work, he had been working part-time and has been going weekly to be with the grandkids in Ofra, which is more than I'd managed the past few years while I was working in Yafiz and then teaching in Yeshiva Tichonit Ahavat Chaim. When they come to us in Shiloh for our "Camp Saba-Savta" both of us do things with the kids.

Of course, one of the big reasons is that our pool has separate swimming hours, male and female. That means that I take our granddaughters, and my husband takes our grandson. And when the females are at the pool, the "men" have to figure out something fun to do. I always look for a nice craft to do with the girls when the "men" are enjoying the pool. I must say that the three girls all swim well and absolutely love the water.

Two years ago my next door neighbor gave me soap molds to use, so we grated bars of soap and made fancy gift soaps. They remember it well.

This year I decided to do a beading project with them. That's how I ended up buying the nice red, black and white beads to make myself a new necklace. I set all the equipment up on the dining room table with a lot of plastic plates so the beads wouldn't roll all over the place. And the plates were also used for planning the necklaces.

I must admit that I was impressed at the speed, design-making abilities and how quickly the going to the 2nd grader caught on to the instructions. She ended up making two necklaces! My oldest granddaughter, who's about to enter high school, also had fun with the beading, though I think that I didn't buy the right style beads for her. None of the beads inspired the second one to even try. I have so many beads leftover... I guess I'll be doing more beading. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pancakes, No Recipe

These pancakes do look pretty perfect. And everyone, four grandchildren and my husband, who ate them loved them. It can't just be that I had two types of sugar and strawberry jam on the table as a "dressing." You can tell by the "air bubbles" that I got it just right.

The truth is that I didn't measure much. I do know that I put in the following:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups of light whole wheat flour
  • 5 medium eggs
  • baking powder
I didn't measure the oil and milk, but when the mixture felt "right," I poured spoonfuls onto the a hot, generously oiled frying pan. Turn them over when you see air bubbles. It's very easy to make. The batter should be a bit thicker than for a one-bowl cake, the easiest cake recipe. Use the linked cake recipe as a guide. Half the sugar and the liquid/juice/water and double the eggs. Plain yogurt is a good liquid for pancakes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fighting to Get Off Every Ounce, Gram

Just under ten years ago, I found myself going on a diet, helped by Start Fresh, for two reasons:

  1. I was obese
  2. I was offered the program for free in exchange for blogging about it.
One of the biggest reasons I continued dieting, my own version of course,  was that the weight just fell off. Really, it was easy. I was out of work that year for the first time in over a decade, so I was able to devote the energy to myself and take walks with friends. The switch from high carbohydrate vegetarian eating to carnivorous low carbohydrates was just what my body needed to shed about thirty 30 pounds, fifteen kilograms. In six months my body changed enormously. I hadn't looked that good for years.
In the past year a few kilo snuck back on. Maybe I'm not as careful as I was in the heyday of my big weight loss. But I am still very active, exercise and rarely eat carbs, except Shabbat. 

If only there was a simple magic formula... an abracadabra that could make our bodies become what we dream.

In the meantime, I just do my best and try to fight to get the weight back off.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Changing Plans, Blessed is the True Judge

I don't have a weekly routine. Even "during the school year," there can be lots of variations in terms of my travels, studies events etc. But in the summer, especially now, I have to work very hard to keep track of where I'm supposed to be from day to day. The logistics can get pretty complicated, even though I'm no longer "working" at a "regular job."

Since the pool is still open, I try to make it possible to be there every day during "women's hours," but sometimes even that is out of my control.

Yesterday I had a nice busy day planned in Jerusalem for after the pool. My clothes, including a matching necklace, were all laid out on my bed when my husband suddenly called out that a neighbor had passed away. He was an elderly neighbor who had been amazingly busy, active, strong etc. until just a few short years ago. I actually visited with him a couple of weeks ago, and it broke my heart to see his deterioration.

I quickly calculated when the funeral would probably take place, and realized that there was no way I'd be back in time, so I canceled all my plans. Everyone was very understanding. Here in Israel, funerals are well-attended by many more than close family and friends. When I worked in Yafiz, I was always excused from a shift to go to funerals. In this case, I, davka, am close to the family.

At 5pm we met at the home of the neighbor and as is custom here when possible, we accompanied him from his home to various locations where he had once been active, and then finally to the cemetery. It was very somber but suited him. We shared memories as we walked.

Death freed his soul from the bondage of an elderly damaged body.

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emett
ברוך דיין האמת
Blessed is the True Judge

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tips for Better Cold Brewed Coffee

Especially when your cold brew time is limited, giving it a good stir before refrigerating goes a long way to "get your money out of that ground coffee."

Not all of the coffee is wet, so no longer how long it's in the fridge you won't get full flavor.

See how pale and weak the coffee looks. So I took out a fork and gave it a real energized "beating."

Look how much darker it looks now.

on my instagram shilohbatya

Then in the morning straight from the fridge with the sun shining through.

And here after more stirring.

Finally after lowering the plunger/filter of the French Press, coffee ready to drink.

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm using a small spoon for sugar...

Have a great day everyone.