Sunday, September 30, 2018

Succot Almost Over, Soon אחרי החגים

In the Jewish Calendar, there's a period late summer when for almost a month we celebrate holidays. And when we're not celebrating, we're preparing, or cleaning up from them. This holiday season includes lots of fasting and even a twenty-five 25 hour fast.

In Israel, all these religious holidays are national holidays, when schools, government offices, banks, some stores etc are closed. Considering how soon they can fall after the two month school summer vacation, you shouldn't be surprised that for a couple of months many things get postponed until אחרי החגים, acharai hachaggim, after the Holidays.

Tonight we begin the last of these Holidays, Simchat Torah, when we joyfully dance with the Torah and move back into our homes after a week of eating and sleeping in our sukkot.

One thing for sure is that many of us will have to work really hard trying to lose the weight we've gained over the holiday season. That's one אחרי החגים things I'm not looking forward to.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Black Beer Beef, So Simple

From the same person who brought the orange juice I used for cooking the easy to cook Turkey Wings, I got some non-alcoholic black beer, which also needs to be used up. So, I decided to cook  it with the chunk of beef, which has been waiting in the freezer.

After thawing the beef and soaking it in water a bit, I did my usual stage one, adding it with some cooking oil* in a pot along with onion and fresh garlic. Then I added the beer, till it reached about a third way up the beef, a few peppercorns and covered. When it reached a boil, I lowered the flame so it would simmer a couple of hours.

That's it. It's that easy.

My plan is to serve it on the Eve of Simchat Torah, since it has a "gravy" and can stay safely on the platta, Shabbat/Holiday electric heater, until we're ready to eat. Other dishes are riskier.

*cooking oil, I cook with soy oil, even though many people nowadays prefer canola or olive oil or one of the many others available. Cook with whichever you prefer and can easily buy.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Easy Recipes and Enjoying The New Kitchen

Yesterday we had guests for a Succot lunch. They had been great fans of my new kitchen during the years I just talked and complained. I got a lot of support from them, so it was very exciting to host them. I served a fish meal, mujadarra, eggplant, baked vegetables, salad and salmon.

1 cup brown rice
1 cup lentils
small/medium onion cut
a bit of cooking oil of your choice
4 1/2 cups boiling water

Put all but water in pot, saute a bit, then add boiling water, cover, bring to boil, lower to a simmer until you can't see any water. Leave covered at least another 10 minutes. Serve.

"Impressive" Eggplant:
fresh garlic
vegetable oil

Slice eggplant partially, so it opens like a book.
Fill with sliced tomato. Sprinkle diced onion and garlic, then oil. Bake in medium-high (or whatever is recommended by your oven manufacturer) oven until cooked.

"Fancy" Salmon:
Filet of salmon
lemon slices
fresh garlic
Decorate your salmon. Wrap in foil, if you're baking it at the same time as the other dishes, so it won't overcook. Otherwise just bake in a medium-high (or whatever is recommended by your oven manufacturer) oven until it seems ready. You can check that the salmon has changed color and is flaky where thickest. Yes, it's that simple.

I enjoyed the meal and hope everyone else did, too.

PS It was so much fun being able to cook so quickly. I could fit all three baked dishes in the oven at the same time. I love my new kitchen!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Morning Dilemma

Sometimes it's hard to choose just the right mug.

Each one's a story, and I can remember most of them.

The advantage of drinking my coffee from the larger mugs is that I end up using less sugar. And the advantage of the smaller mugs is that it makes my French Press seem larger, as I have more "cups" of coffee.

Do you have a "regular" mug or cup everyday, or do you like variety?  Why? Which is your favorite, and why?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Turkey Wings, Easy to Cook

I found a good deal on frozen turkey wings and decided to serve them on the first night of Succot.

After thawing and soaking them, I added just a few ingredients:
orange juice
and a bit of pepper
I almost added fresh ginger, but my husband doesn't like it

Then I covered, cooked, first high flame and then simmered until it all seemed ready. I served it with salad, rice and baked/roasted vegetables.

The meal was easy to make, but very festive and tasty.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Succot! Enjoy ושמחת בחגך

Tonight we celebrate the weekly Succot Holiday. Enjoy!

As you can see, I managed to decorate our succah. Some of the decorations are very old, but most are from Jewish Calendars sent by various charities. I just cut out the pictures and put them up with thumbtacks. I also use New Years- Rosh Hashana Cards people have sent us. That makes decorating the succah very easy and low cost, free is about as cheap as you can get other than decorated succah fabric/walls.

Our succah is wood, but actually, the walls of our merpeset,  balcony/terrace go halfway up, so the wood, pergola and wall pieces don't start from the floor. Our sons came over the other night to help my husband get it all up, including the s'chach, special reusable roof.

This year we bought a new supply of plastic chairs, and we're looking forward to having a few guests. What are your plans?

Glad We Don't have Strict/Rigid Food Traditions

No, I'm not talking about kashrut,which is Jewish Law, not tradition.

The only really required food is mtazh for the Passover Seder and the special ritual food at the seder. And there are different customs concerning exactly what is to be eaten.

When people tell me they must cook a certain food for a certain holiday with the exact side dishes, recipe etc, no flexibility... And then they get all stressed, because a crucial ingredient can't be bought.

Thank Gd I didn't grow up in a home like that. And I didn't raise my family to expect specific menus, foods etc.

It makes my life so much easier and so much more foun.

Now that we're empty-nesters, we need less food. This year, for the first time, and maybe I'll do it again, I served the same thing before and after Yom Kippur. For years I made a totally different meals. This year I decided that it wasn't worth the bother.

By not having rigid menus, I can be spontaneous is there is a sale on a certain food. I can invent a recipe.

I'm glad it works for me and my family.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Succah Up, But Needs Decorators

B"H, my wonderful sons came by after work and within minutes had the succah up. Luckily my husband had found all the boards beforehand.

Now, I'm stuck with the job of decorating. We have a box of decorations. I just have to get inspired to put some up. B"H some stayed up from last year.

PS Did you notice that we bought new Keter plastic chairs? Most of our old ones either broke or disappeared.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pre/Post Yom Kippur Meal

Since we have a rather empty nest, just my husband and myself, I don't need to cook as much as before when the house was full of kids and guests. And we still have lots of big pots.

Don't get me wrong; we do have guests, but not as many as in the past. Also, nowadays, my cooking experiments aim more for efficiency than impressive. That's why I decided to try a Pre/Post Yom Kippur Meal, serving (almost) exactly the same meal before and after the Yom Kippur 25 hour fast. Of course, this dish is perfect any time you want an easy hearty one-pot meal.

I don't have many real Jewish Food traditions, especially as pre/post fasts or Succot and Shavuot, which weren't at all celebrated by us. I didn't grow up with kreplach, which is what many Jewish families eat as Pre/Post Yom Kippur Meals.

For some strange reason, as I was trying to figure out what to serve Tuesday night before Yom Kippur, barley popped into my mind. The experts say we should have a complex carbohydrate as a main part of the pre-fast meal. I decided to cook up chicken with barley and vegetables, a one-pot meal, which can even be a soup.

Before the fast, I served it with a salad, and breaking the fast I heated up some ratatouille, I had in the fridge. I also served myself some of the liquid with a bit of whatever came along as a soup, while my husband had his chicken soup. It was delicious, satisfying and so easy to make and serve. I tried to calculate cooking exactly what we needed for the two meals. In the end there's some barley left over, which can be "recycled" into a new soup with added vegetables.

chicken, I cut it into large serving size pieces
about a cup of barley
onion, cut
2 carrots, cut large
2 large squash, cut large
seasonings, paprika, black pepper, garlic, parsley, a pinch of salt
water, of course

  1. add all ingredients to a large pot, leaving a good inch before top, so it won't boil over
  2. bring to a strong boil and then turn down flame to simmer for an hour or so
  3. Yes, that's it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Has Anyone Used One of These?

It's a meat/fish grinder. It was probably given to me by my mother or mother-in-law as part of my basic Passover or regular cooking equipment when I got married close to half a century ago. They had heard that things were pretty primitive here in Israel. They no doubt also heard stories from  people who fled Israel in the 1950s, traumatised by the need to store fish in the bathtub. I was also prepared to kasher the meat, since I, too, had heard stories...

In 1970, it was no problem to buy your meat and poultry already kashered. And if you went to the fish store early enough before Shabbat or the Jewish Holidays, your fish could be ground. I just make gefilte fish a couple of times a year at most, and recently I've been buying jars of it. Only once did I use that fish grinder for Passover, when we were late at the store. And nowadays you can buy it ground. Also I'm pretty sure that nowadays the fish stores won't send you away with whole fish, even close to the holidays.

When I was clearing out the kitchen closets to prepare for my new kitchen I found the ginder. Since I saw rust, I decided to dump it. Why not? I used it only once in forty-eight 48 years.

Have you ever used one? Do you still use it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


It's the Eve of Yom Kippur, and I AM SORRY.

I am sorry for sins done against Gd and man, whether aware or not.

I AM SORRY for everything I have done wrong, hurt people, intentionally or not.


I AM SORRY and hope to be better in the future, if I have a future.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Easy and Healthy Cucumber Salad

We ended up with too many cucumbers, so, before they could go bad, I quickly made a "Cucumber Salad." Of course I had never made one before, so I had some research to do. Cucumber Salads used to be mainstays of Israeli summers, and I started googling "Cucumber Salad."  I was surprised to discover that Google claims it's a German dish.

I read a couple of recipes, internalized the general idea and got to work.

cucumbers, sliced relatively thin
red onion, also sliced relatively thin
dehydrated dill, fresh is better but I didn't have any
barely a teaspoon of light brown sugar
a couple of tablespoons of vinegar
1 tablespoon of tamari sauce
freshly squeezed lemon juice from a quarter of a lemon

put cucumbers, onion and dill in a bowl
add sugar and then the rest of the ingredients
let it "sit" for a few hours
eat and enjoy

The recipes I saw online were a bit more complicated. I've simplified it. You can also spice it up a bit more. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Only in Israel 😍

Who can label/caption this? Your captions in the comments, thanks.

Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach
May You have a Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Nothing Better than Vegetable Soup

Yesterday afternoon I made myself a much too full pot of vegetable soup full of brown lentils, onion, carrots, ginger, squash, garlic and finely sliced mushrooms. Yes, that's all the ingredients, plus a bit of oil and water, of course.

Cooking on my new gas stove top is such a pleasure. One advantage is that it heats and cooks so quickly. I no longer have to boil water in the electric kettle for cooking purposes. The old electric hotplate I had been using was so slow, I was always supplementing with the kettle, whether for pasta, soup etc.

To make this soup, I started a few of hours early and put the lentils in the pot, added water to cover, plus, and then boiled it for a few minutes, turned off the flame and covered the covered pot with a towel to keep in the heat.

Then, about an hour or more before I needed to eat the soup, I cut up all the vegetables and added them to the lentils, topping with some cooking oil, and began to cook it all on a high flame. As soon as it began to boil, I added more water until about an inch, 2cm from the top of the pot. Then I had it reach boil again and lowered the flame to simmer. Actually, I moved the pot from the double-flame to a weaker one.

When the soup looked almost cooked, vegetables were soft, I added some coarse salt and coarse pepper. It's better to add less than you think would be good, since people can always add more, but you can't reduce salt and pepper in cooked food. About ten minutes later I turned off the flame and let the food continue cooking on its own. It didn't need more than a total of forty minutes of cooking time.

This, easy to prepare, vegan vegetable soup is a full meal. If you eat dairy, you can put a slice of yellow cheese on the bottom of your bowl before serving for an extra tasty protein treat.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New Stovetop

When I was searching for new kitchen appliances, gas stove top and ovens, I noticed that there's a choice in the arrangements of the four burner stovetop. Although the total size is the same, in terms of how much of the counter it takes up, there's a big difference in pot space between the two.

I chose the stovetop that has the four knobs close together, not spread out in front or on the side. That leaves enough room for one burner to be much larger. And the manufacturer makes it extra strong, two circles of flame.

As you can see in the photo, I can cook in  two large pots, with room to spare. And there's room for two smaller pots, too. That's the most efficient arrangement. I don't have enough counter space for a five or six burner stovetop.

Cooking is so much easier now.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

5779 Stepping Onto The Plate, May You Never Be Alone...

Cross-posted on Shiloh Musings.

For those of you waiting for my annual Fruit Head to greet the New Jewish Year, here he/she is! A few decades ago, during my quarter century, yes, 25 years, as a vegetarian, I adapted our Rosh Hashana table to the reality that nobody in the family wanted to eat a fish head, or even look at one. So, since then I've decorated a fruit, usually an apple, in honor of the New Jewish Year.

I bless you with a year of comfortable companionship. May you never be alone.

The 5779 Fruit Head is joined by a רימון rimon, pomegranate, one of the fruits which has much spiritual significance in Judaism, read 9 Jewish Things About Pomegranates.

One of the principles of Judaism is that Gd is all over, not just in the synagogue, not just when you're praying or remembering Him. Judaism is a "full-time" religion, and we don't need an intermediary to pray to Gd. Gd also sees us all the time, what we do and what we think. We can't hide from Gd.

At the same time, Judaism is divided between the קודש וחול Kodesh v'Chol, the Holy/Gd and Ordinary People/things/everyday. That's why in Judaism it's not considered enough to just pray to Gd, even saying all the words ourselves, it's preferable to pray with a proper minyan, ten men prayer group, with a leader.

Judaism isn't a solitary religion; it's a community. We need other people, other Jews. We need family, even when the family isn't all biologically and legally related. We need the support of other people, and we must help and support in turn. Yes, there is a time when we give and when we receive. That concept is repeated in the book of קהלת Kohelet, Ecclesiastes.

Last week when I led our pre-High Holiday book club discussion on  קהלת Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, I asked if anyone knew why the writer, the son of King David, generally believed to be King Solomon, gave himself the name קהלת Kohelet. We couldn't think of a reason.

Maybe we're supposed to see ourselves as part of a long, complex Jewish History of Jewish People. There are repetitive cycles and lessons to be learned, and that is what King Solomon who is described in the Tanach/Bible as very wise is trying to tell us in קהלת Kohelet, Ecclesiastes. We are a very unique community קהל Kahal from the same linguistic root as קהלת Kohelet.

To survive we need both ordinary people and Gd. Even when things look bad, they are just part of the normal cycle, and we mustn't allow ourselves to wallow in depression. Reach out to others, humans and Gd. Don't be alone.

שנה טובה ומתוקה
גמר חתימה טובה

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Perfect Summer Tea

For years this coffee pot has been sitting in the closet unused. It's old. I'm tired of having things I don't need. It's a waste of space and money.

A few weeks ago, I decided that I did need it. Now I make perfect summer tea in it to serve on Shabbat.

I take two herbal tea teabags. One is usually mint, which shouldn't surprise you. I brew the teas in the pot with a some boiling water, enough to cover the teabags. After it cools a bit I add tap water to almost the top and then refrigerate it before serving. I don't add sugar. Actually it tastes so good I'm not even tempted to add a sweetner.


Friday, September 07, 2018

Suddenly Cooking Again

For the past couple of years, I barely cooked and didn't bake at all. When I didn't have a functioning kitchen I became very lazy. A few times I baked at my daughter's in Ofra and at a neighbor's, but that was it. If it couldn't be easily cooked in a pot on an eccentric electric burner or two, it just didn't get cooked at all. That had been my kitchen for the past year. And for quite awhile before that, when my old mini-ovens still worked, even before we retired the old stove top, which smelled of gas, no more than two burners were strong and reliable enough for cooking.

Now, I have a kitchen, bli eyin haraa-not to tempt the evil eye, and I must get used to making real meals again. No doubt that our food bills will go up, and I pray that my weight won't join them.

The first things I made in my new ovens were a supply of cake and challah. I couldn't make a super-sized supply, since we don't have much freezer space, just the fridge's freezer. Last week I also made us moussaka, one for Shabbat lunch and one for the freezer. Remember that we're only two people at home, versus the 7-9 we'd have at ordinary Shabbat meals a few decades ago, and don't do all the entertaining we once did. Nowadays, I'm overwhelmed when there are five to prepare for!

Yesterday I cooked the meat and poultry for Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah. I didn't make all that much, but it was more and more varied than I had made for a long time. Take a peek: