Saturday, September 30, 2017

Perfect Chicken-Less Chicken Soup With Vegetables

This is the soup I made for the pre and post Yom Kippur fast meals. For those who aren't Jewish, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the year, and observing it includes a 25 hour fast, from just before dusk until night the following day. There are many Jews who aren't otherwise observant, but they still fast. For example, yesterday, just minutes before the fast was to begin, one of Israel's top tennis players, Dudi Sela, forfeited a game at a major tournament.

This is a Chicken-Less Chicken Soup, because, although I did make the stock with a nice big chicken, you can't see any sign of that chicken in the soup itself.  That's because I first began making the soup the day before. I boiled up a chicken in water for just over half an hour. I checked to see if the chicken was fully cooked before removing it from the soup. I then refrigerated both the soup and the chicken separately.

The next morning I checked and saw that there was a thick layer of hard fat on the soup stock. I carefully spooned it off and then began making the soup. First I put about two-thirds 2/3 a cup of barley on the bottom of a pot. You can use more or less, depending on what you like. And as you can see, I also cut up an onion for the soup. Then I poured the fatless stock onto the barley and onions and cooked it until the barley was swollen.
Once the barely seemed cooked, I added parsley root, carrots, mushrooms and parsley leaves to the soup.

If you think it needs more water, then add to the cooking soup. I did. Just before turning off the flame, I seasoned with a bit of coarse salt and pepper. Of course you can use different vegetables, though I do consider onions and carrots necessities.

Here's my bowl of soup from the pre-Yom Kippur meal. It was very easy to make.

Enjoy, and tell me what you did with this basic recipe, thanks.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Succah 5778 is UP!!

Our son came by last night on his way home from work to help my husband. He's the same son who built the new pergola a few years ago, when our old one was close to collapse.

PS The decorations are from last year. Somehow they survived well on the walls in our storage room under the house. That saves us from the chore of decorating...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trying to Live Without Cow's Milk

A few months ago, I bought some coconut cream, which I never used. Last week I finally decided to give it a try. I had developed a cold and decided to try the coconut cream in my coffee instead of milk and sugar.

Some days it tasted good, and on others, I wasn't happy drinking my coffee with the coconut stuff.

The other day, I went back to milk and sugar. But my plan is to try another of the "non-dairy milks,"like cashew, almond or soy.

PS The yogurt I eat is goats.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Benji- Honey Red Ale

This year our local Benjamin Regional Council, Mateh Binyamin included something new in its "Rosh Hashanah, New Year's holiday gift package" for us.  We usually get something to thank my husband for the various Hasbara, Information work he does. This year, besides the standard "honey for a sweet year," we got  two bottles of Benji Honey Red Ale Beer. And since beer is one of the things my husband doesn't like, it went to me, for my drinking pleasure.

Doug Greener, the beer mavin, has been mentoring me, so here's the report. When I first opened a bottle and poured myself a glass on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, I discovered that it's a very frothy beer with lots of foam/head. But being that it was Rosh Hashanah, I couldn't take a photo, so you'll have trust me.

Even if you can't read the Hebrew on the label, you should be able to recognize that the 6.5% refers to alcohol content which means that it's relatively high, בירה חזקה, Birah Chazaka, Strong Beer. And, yes, I did feel the alcohol, even a few days later when I opened to bottle to photograph it and drink what was left. But you probably want to know more about the flavor of the beer.

I could taste the honey, and if you can't read Hebrew, you should know that the honey is pretty high up on the list of ingredients. The people who made this beer aren't conning you when they call it a Honey Red Ale.  It is also a "honey brown" color.

There's nothing bitter in the taste of the beer. It's the sweetest beer I can remember tasting, and I was recently at the Jerusalem Beer Festival, where I tasted quite a few. Even though beer generally does not need rabbinical supervision to be kosher, this one does have a Mehadrin Hechsher. I presume that this was ordered and bottled especially for Benjamin Regional Council, Mateh Binyamin, but if you'd like more information, there's a phone number on the label 02-5458856.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Summer's Ending

There are just a few grapes left on the vines, and they're pretty sweet. Last sweet taste of summer.

The leaves are drying out, too.

And the days are getting shorter, the nights and early mornings are colder. I don't need the airconditioner on any more, and sometimes I turn off the fan.

At night I throw on a jacket when I go outside.

Yes, summer is coming to its inevitable end. We must plan for rain, Gd willing, and embrace it...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Break-Fast Vegetable Mushroom Soup

Here's my latest (made yesterday) version of a very easy and always tasty TNT Vegetable Soup. Since I had a lot of mushrooms in the fridge, they went into the soup. Yesterday was the Jewish fast day of Tzom (The Fast of) Gedaliah. I've made it a custom to break my fasts, whenever possible, on freshly made Vegetable Soups. They hit the spot, absolutely perfect for breaking the fast and any other type of day. I first started the custom when the children were still living at home. So then I'd also make fresh homemade rolls and/or pizza. But at our age, that's just too much food, whether after a fast or any time. I just serve myself a few bowls of soup. My husband gets a bit more of a meal.

Stage one:
Pour about a cup of dried *peas in large pot and check them for stones, etc.
Boil water and pour over peas. Cover the pot and let it wait for an hour or more.
*Instead of peas, you can use any lentils and/or barley. If you want to use beans, then start earlier, because you will have to cook the beans, depending on the type, for well over an hour, besides the soaking.

Stage two:
About an hour and a half or more before planned serving time, take the pot to the stove and start cooking the peas. Lower flame/heat to simmer as soon as it begins to boil. Make sure you have enough water, so that it doesn't burn, since the peas absorb the water.

Stage three:
Take out the vegetables you want in the soup. Besides an onion and fresh garlic, this time I used a squash, carrots and mushrooms. You can cook different vegetables, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, potato, cauliflower, zucchini, etc. If you want dark green or leafy vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage or spinach, save to add just before soup is fully cooked.
You may certainly add greens like parsley, celery, etc.
Cut/slice the vegetables into bite-sized pieces either by hand or food-processor and add them to the boiling peas/lentils/beans. Boil up water and add to the cooking soup to cover, plus. Simmer after it reaches boil.
Exact quantities depend on your pot and how thick/rich you want your soup. 
When the vegetables are soft, add salt and pepper to taste. After another few minutes, turn off the flame. The soup will finish cooking on its own. You can cover the pot with a thick towel to keep it hot if you won't be serving it for more than an hour.

If other things are cooking on the stove, then remove the pot to a heat-resistant surface to prevent the towel catching on fire.

Your soup is now ready to eat. Enjoy!

Vegetable Mushroom Soup

Sunday, September 24, 2017

One-Pan Meal, Tuna Steak and Veggies

This easy to prepare, healthy fish meal can be served any time, but we had it on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. Honestly, there's a limit to how many meat or poultry meals even carnivores like us can truly enjoy.

My husband and I have made it a custom to have fish on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. One of the reasons is that for those of us who strictly follow Jewish Law, heating up food for that meal can't begin until it's dark. Since I just use an electric "hotplate," aka platta, I need to serve something that can heat quickly or be eaten cold.

Most years we eat salmon, which heats up very quickly and easily. But this year I decided to try these tuna steaks, since I'd have to "saw off" a chunk of a large piece of frozen salmon. The tuna tops online and is surrounded by zucchini and pumpkin. On top I sprinkled some paprika and dill, plus oil. Then I covered it and cooked it all before Rosh Hashana. It was served with potatoes and salad.

The One-Pan Meal, Tuna Steak and Veggies is a tasty, filling and easy to make meal.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Case of the Missing Fruit (Date-Coconut) Balls

One nice dessert I can make sans working oven is Fruit (Date-Coconut) Balls.

Fruit (Date-Coconut) Balls

They are amazingly easy to make and relatively healthy, non-lactose/dairy and totally vegan. All you need is date spread and desiccated coconut. Mix ingredients until you can form into balls, and then freeze. That's it. You can add cinnamon, cocoa powder and other things if you want. I've added sesame paste to make it a "full meal." Since the date spread may be of varying consistency, and you may be adding other things to it, I can't give exact measurements/quantities. 
I made them to serve on Rosh Hashana, at meals with guests.

We had an enjoyable meal, and then it was time for dessert. I took out the cake. No problem. But then I went to the freezer to get the Fruit (Date-Coconut) Balls. I couldn't find them. I remembered very distinctly taking out a bag and packing them away into the freezer. I pulled out everything, once and then again. No bag of Fruit (Date-Coconut) Balls. Luckily the guests were good friends who had been over many times before. Finally I gave up.

We finished the meal with the chocolate chip cake which I had made with my granddaughter and something else I had in the freezer.

After they left, I reviewed in my mind everything I could possibly have done with the fruit balls. I had used baking paper as the work surface and then got out a clean plastic bag, and... Eureka! I had folded up the paper and bagged them all wrapped. I couldln't find them, because I was looking for a bag with dark balls, not a bagged white paper package.

It was right there on the freezer shelf in front of me all the time. ↓⇓

If I hadn't been so hysterically stressed, I would have easily seen them. ➡➜

This wasn't a disaster. If I had misplaced the main course, that would have been more of a problem.

The following day I saw my neighbor and told her that I found them. OK, next time, Gd willing, I'll serve the Fruit (Date-Coconut) Balls. Actually there are enough for quite a few meals.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Welcoming 5778, Heading to a Healthy Year, Gd Willing

Yes, this is the "face of 5778," refreshing and cheerful, Gd willing.

Ever since my vegetarian years, twenty-five 25 would you believe, I've been making a "fruit head" rather than displaying a whole fish, head and all, on the Rosh Hashanah table. Each head looks a bit different, just like each year differs from the preceding.

May the Jewish Year 5778 be one of blessings, health and joy for all of us.

May we learn to see the good in all that happens and cheer each other up, when needed.

And I ask your forgiveness if I've hurt or harmed you in any way.

שנה טובה, בריאה ומתוקה
Shanah Tovah, Bri'ah Umetukah,
May You Have a Good, Healthy and Sweet Year

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Internet Repair, New Router for Me and "Baile Rochel"

Everything here is exactly as it happened. But as I began writing I knew that some of you would insist that it could only happen to Baile Rochel. So, we're sharing credit.

I can't quite say when it started... For at least the past few months at least, we've had intermittent stoppages of our internet service in the house. There wasn't a real "pattern" except for Murphy's Law.
Finally, late last week, I couldn't take it anymore and bit the bullet. I called the complaint line aka "tech support" for Bezeq. The girl, probably young enough to be my granddaughter, was very sweet. By pressing a few magic buttons where she sat, she told me that she can see that I've had periods of time without proper internet service. This sort of thing is like science fiction for someone of my generation. I told her that the last time the Bezeq guy came he had to replace all sorts of cables. That was after I had to argue with the "tech support" who wanted to send me a new router, which I'd have to install!?!

The sweet young thing on the phone didn't make such unrealistic demands. She typed a few more commands into her "magic ball" and told me that the repairman would arrive Monday morning between nine and eleven, 9-11.  So, I set my phone planner to remind me to be suitably dressed on time. He shouldn't knock on the door when I'm in the shower...

No, he didn't come when scheduled... he came earlier! But he called first to say he was driving to a nearby community to pick up his security guard. Yes, that's pretty funny. The local Bezeq technician lives a short walk from my house and had to drive unescorted to get the guard... Yes, I was fully dressed and all when he arrived.

The technician checked out a few things, more science fiction stuff, and announced that we have been paying for 100 whatevers, but our router can only handle 15, or something like that. And that's why our internet keeps taking breaks. So then he coached my husband through a "chat" with one of the Bezeq sales people to change our package and pay less. When it got too complicated for us, he took the phone and spoke. The salesperson asked:
"Who are you?"
"Their grandson."
And now we'll be paying a bit less each month. And we also go a brand new router which can handle the supposedly faster internet. So far so good, bli eyin haraa.

It's so strange to think that we now live in a world that has technology we never even dreamt of growing up and even as young parents. In all honesty, I haven't a clue how this technology works, and I don't have to know. It's all here for my use and enjoyment.

Shanah Tovah, Metukah Ubri'ah
Have a Good, Sweet and Healthy New Year

Monday, September 18, 2017

Looking Forward to 5778

A version of this was also posted on Israel Blogger as New Jewish Year, 5778, Reflections.

In just a couple of days the Jewish People will be celebrating a new Jewish Year, 5778. It occurs just as the summer is coming to an end. Every year at this time, we hear how the Kineret aka Sea of Galilee is lower than ever before in history.

Kineret aka Sea of Galilee at Sunset, mid-winter

All but the trees and well-watered plants have dried out. We live with fear of wildfires, whether lit by carelessness or Arab terrorists. It's definitely a time of the year when drought and starvation seem to be our future, Gd forbid. But davka now, when prices of local agriculture is highest, summer fruit and vegetables are hard to find and most expensive, we make great feasts to celebrate a new year.

It reminds me of the fact that we start our new day at night. That is how Gd commands us.

The Jewish Calendar and Jewish Day require a faith in Gd that darkness will become light, and rains will fall. And also to survive uncontrollable personal difficulties and troubles, we all must learn how to see the good, thank Gd and trust that we can and will survive.

With all the imperfections of the State of Israel, when I take a good look and compare today with the past, I see amazing improvements. Actually, it's good not to be satisfied with today, because that makes us strive to make it all even better. But we must never give up.

May Gd bless us all, individually and as a People in the Jewish Year 5778.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Trying to Learn Names of Local Plants

Growing up in New York, I had a pretty good grasp of the names of the local flora, especially after successfully completing a Girl Scout Badge which required not only recognizing the trees by their leaves, but also their barks. Well over a half a century later, I really don't remember much, but even thirty-forty years ago, when my children were young, it wouldn't have helped much. Here in Israel, I never knew the names of the local plants.

Due to different climates and continents, the native flora here in Israel and my native New York have very little in common. And you can't really expect the same sorts of gardens to grow in both places. I do have roses, which grow in New York, but we just don't give them the care they need to blossom much.

Last Thursday at the "Vatikim," "senior citizens" program in the Ofra Girls High School, a substitute teacher gave us a nice talk about plants according to the month they appear/flower. She'll be teaching my 2nd grade granddaughter this year.

I'm sure that most everyone else in the room knew all the material presented, but for me it was new. So I took pictures in hope to actually remember a bit of it. Here they are:

chazav, flowers before leaves come out

chelmonit named for yolk of egg which is same sort of yellow


rakefet grows in hidden places like between rocks

duda'im, mandrakes mentioned in Bible as good for fertility
I'd need to hear the lecture a few times to remember more.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Very Good Red Wine

A neighbor brought us this wine on Shabbat. היוצר Hayotzer, VIRTUOSO, and it was really good. It had a great smooth taste, very fruity. This is one of the best red wines I can remember. It was very pleasant to drink.

I must admit that frequently I don't like red wines, even or especially, the "good ones." I sometimes feel a strange sticky after-taste. But I really liked this VIRTUOSO from Hayotzer. I searched for its site on the internet but couldn't find one.

I usually end up buying whites and roses, not many reds. This wine does make nice gifts. I'll have to remember for the future if I ever see it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Short Week" Before 3 Day Rosh Hashanah Weekend

Today's a busy day for us, so I can't be in the kitchen much. Gd willing we'll be home with enough time to boil water and heat the food for Shabbat. Family fun, bli eyin haraa.

I generally cook all the week's meat and dinner food for my husband when I cook for Shabbat. Since over the years I've had many jobs that kept me out dinner time, he had gotten used to heating up his dinner.

This week Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday night, so there are only three, rather than five evening meals to worry about. That means I have to prepare less food for Shabbat and the week. That's a relief.

Shabbat Shalom UMevorach
Have a Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tefilat Chana, 5777, 2017, Pictures and Videos

Last night was the humongous gathering of women, from young girls to grandmothers and great-grandmothers at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh. Prayers, tours, words of Torah and song. Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi was the featured speaker, and Etti Ankori was the star entertainer.

Let the pictures speak, though they barely give the true spirit of the evening.