Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Homemade Challah, Yes, Passover's Over

Yesterday I made a nice batch of challah, which should be enough for more than a month. I used a very simple challah recipe and no electric mixer. I knead by hand.

1 cup sugar (I use dark brown)
2 Tablespoons or a bit more of dehydrated yeast
approximately 2 kilo flour (I use whole wheat extra fine)
pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups of warm water
1 cup of any vegetable oil
2 eggs (optional)
1 egg for painting to make a shiny challah

  1. Put almost all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl; just use a cup of flour.
  2. Mix
  3. Add the warm water.
  4. Cover with plastic.
  5. When it looks all bubbly and has risen add the oil (and eggs).
  6. Mix
  7. Gradually add flour, mixing all the time, until you can knead it.
  8. Knead for about 8 minutes.
  9. Coat completely in a bit more oil.
  10. Cover and wait until doubled in size, anything from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the weather and quality of yeast.
  11. Punch down, then cover and wait again. 
  12. "Take a piece of challah" for the blessing.
  13. Punch down and shape. The shaping as you can see in my photos can be very simple.
  14. Paint with raw egg and let the challot rise a bit.
  15. Bake. Don't preheat oven. First I let the shaped challot, more like rolls, rise in 100c, 212f oven until doubled. Then I baked it at 190c, 374f until starting to brown. Finally lower heat to 160c, 320 until a sort of hollow sound when tapped on bottom. Times depend on size of challah and your oven. Mine is turbo/fan and I have heat from bottom. Usually I bake on two racks, also.
  16. It's ready when hard on the bottom and has a hollow sound when tapping the bottom.
  17. Let cool out of the oven.
  18. Enjoy for Shabbat, Jewish Holidays or whenever you want a special bread.

Afterwards I bagged and froze the challah, since it was only Monday, but the house had that wonderful smell of home-baked challah for the rest of the day.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Post-Pesach/Passover 5779, 2019

Yes, it's hard to believe but last night as Shabbat ended, so did Passover for Jews wherever.  This is a rare year when even those of us in the Holy Land find ourselves still in Passover mode for eight full days. That's because as Passover ended, Shabbat began, and on Shabbat we are forbidden to cook, shop, switch the kitchen etc. Also, the chametz we had sold stays sold until after Shabbat.

Before the Chag Shvi'i shel Pesach, the last day of Passover, we make a special blessing Eruv Tavshilin which starts the cooking of a meal which is to be eaten on Shabbat. We may finish the cooking, and do any other food preparation for Shabbat as part of that Eruv Tavshilin.

After Havdala, the ceremony that separates the Holy Shabbat from the regular days, we can then start rearranging the kitchen into regular Chametz mode. About an hour plus after Shabbat, if we've sold our Chametz, we retake possession.

It didn't take me all that long to take off the counter coverings and get my kitchen back to normal. I made sure to find all of my coffee paraphernalia before going to bed, figuring that in the morning I'd be too confused and tired to think straight. Especially since this is the first year/Passover in the new kitchen, it's a bit more complicated to remember where I'd stashed everything.

B"H, thank Gd I found it pretty easy to get this new kitchen in and out of Passover mode. I'm pleased, thank Gd, with my kitchen.

No, I haven't yet had any chametz. Some years it takes me until Shabbat.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Passover/Pesach 5779, 2019 Almost Over

This year's Passover is a day longer than usual for us here in Israel. That's because as it ends Shabbat begins. And we can't start putting away Passover dishes/pots etc on Shabbat, nor can we cook chametz.

So, this year, for all practical purposes, Passover is the same whether you're in Israel or outside of it. In Chutz La'Aretz, meaning out of the Holy Land, there's an extra day, just like they have a Second Seder and celebrate Simchat Torah a day after we do. A number of times in the past, we had visitors from abroad who needed to continue eating strictly Kosher for Passover for eight days, rather than our seven. Those years we couldn't switch everything immediately after the holiday was over for us. But in a year like this one, it's no problem at all. Everyone finishes with Passover the same time.

Now I have to finish off all of the cooking for the last two days of Passover eating.


PS Please remember to get all of your candles ready before the chag begins and also a 48 hour one so you can light for Shabbat.
PPS Also remember to prepare and bless the Eruv Tavshilin, so you can prepare food for Shabbat on the chag.

Chag Kasher V'Sameach and Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Visiting an Old Age Home in Jerusalem

Yesterday I went to visit a friend who now lives in an old age home in Jerusalem. I was with a couple of other friends. We followed "google map's" directions to find it, although we took a detour to pick up some cake.

At our age, we know that, should we live so long, we could end up in such a place in another decade or so. Our friend can no longer take care of herself, live independently. I remember her talking about if she reaches such a stage, she'd like full-time care in her own home, but for various reasons that couldn't happen.

Our friend still has enough of her brain cells to converse and praise her new home. She likes the fact that all the cooking and cleaning, maintenance etc are done by others. All she needs to do is smile, eat and cooperate, which is fine for someone as friendly as she is. She enjoyed the cakes we brought her, insisting that they don't serve such desserts. It was clear to me that some of her "report" wasn't totally accurate, but it's what she wants to and is able to believe to stay happy. When we all posed together for a picture, she quickly pushed away her "walker," which was a good sign of her awareness. She doesn't like to appear infirm.

Of course the place has ramps and elevators. In the large lobby of the entrance floor there was a musician entertaining residents. When we didn't see our friend, we asked a staff member where she could be found. Then we easily found her on a different floor/department. She was very happy to see us.

PS The old age home didn't "smell," so that means that the upkeep and the residents are well taken care of.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Kosher for Passover Lunch in Mamilla, No Kitniyot

Today my husband and I "double-dated" with a couple we've been "double-dating" with for half a century. We spent the day in Jerusalem, and besides seeing the "Plugat Hakotel" museum in Jerusalem's Old City, we had lunch out.

Passover is a complicated time to eat out, or even food shop, for those of us who are Torah observant. And it's even more complicated for Ashkenazi Jews, those whose families are ethnically European. Not only do we need regular Kosher for Passover food, we refrain from eating kitniyot, legumes. I can't complain. It's not as difficult as it used to be to find food and restaurants. That's because there are so many religious Ashkenazi Jews who come to Israel, especially Jerusalem, for Passover, and restaurant owners have realized that it pays to go to the efforts to cater to our needs.

But still, from year to year, businesses change, and I like to know in advance what options we have. So, this year I asked on all sorts of facebook pages and got nowhere. But once we were in Jerusalem, I discovered that there are more and more restaurants, not only strictly and certified Kosher for Passover, but they are also "without a doubt free of kitniyot."

We ended up having an early lunch in Fresh Kitchen in the Mamilla Mall.

Fresh Coffee & Kitchen had an extensive Passover Menu, and even though the place was packed, the wait staff seemed on top of things. There are other branches around the country.

There was such a large selection of food in Fresh Kitchen's Passover Menu that I had trouble choosing what to eat. In the end I chose the Nicoise aka Tuna Salad, and the bowl was full. It was very tasty, too.

One of our group had a sandwich, which came with a nice salad. And the other two had the Halumi Salad. There were no complaints. We finished it all. Prices were reasonable, too.

I couldn't find a phone number for them, but click here for their facebook page, which does have a message option.

Delicious and Simple Passover Chicken Soup and Meal

This chicken soup with kneidlach, matzah balls, was the most delicious and super easy to make soup.

Before the Passover Seder, my main cooking contribution was to bring two types of kneidlach, regular and vegan kneidlach. This time when I boiled the kneidlach I used Chicken Broth.

First I prepared the kneidlach mixture, since it's supposed to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Click Kneidlach.

Chicken broth is also, so simple to prepare. All I had to do was to boil the cleaned chicken until just cooked, not until crumbling and disintegrating in the liquid. Then I removed the chicken and refrigerated it.

When you're ready to make the kneidlach, boil the chicken stock and either roll the kneidel mush into balls, or just get two spoons ready to "drop" ball like pieces into the broth/stock.

While the broth/stock is boiling carefully drop/add the kneidlach. When all the "mush" is in the broth/stock, cover and lower the flame, so that it just simmers for about 40 minutes.

After they cool a bit, remove the kneidlach and refrigerate or freeze if you won't be using them for more than a few days. Or you can make a large quantity and just freeze some.

I brought them all to my daughter's for our family seder, but afterwards she gave me leftovers to take home. When serving at the seder, those who wanted kneidlach got them added to the soup she had made.

Yesterday I made a wonderful meal with the chicken and the stock and the kneidlach, plus my all time favorite oven-roasted vegetables.

To turn the stock/broth into a delicious chicken soup, I cut an onion, a couple of carrots,a parsley root and parsley leaves. I put them plus the kneidlach in the pot, added the stock and covered it. After the soup began to boil, I lowered the flame to simmer for about 40 minutes.

I carved the chicken and took two pieces, added some diced onion, seasoning and olive oil to another pot, covered and cooked on a low flame.

We had an amazingly delicious lunch. It was very easy to make. The soup was rich and didn't have a drop of salt.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Family Passover/Pesach Seder, 5779, 2019

Of course, being that we strictly follow Jewish Law, we have no pictures from our actual Passover/Pesach Seder. The memories will stay for generations, Gd willing.

My grandfather, who was otherwise a strictly shomer Shabbat, a Sabbath observer, apparently allowed my Uncle Donny to take the photo just below. I guess it was a combination of not fully comprehending the halachic aspects of photography and not being able to resist the cleverly worded requests of my Uncle Donny.

Shankman-Vishnevsky family Seder, Brooklyn, NY, most probably 5709, 1949
I'm not in this Seder picture, since if I've dated it correctly, it was just over a month before I was born. Yes, now you know how old I am.  I recognize everyone in the picture. Not only my maternal grandparents, but my parents, aunts, uncle and even two of my cousins here have already passed away. I'm pretty sure it's 1949, because Uncle Izzy is sitting there next to my grandfather holding Cousin Butchy. Passover 1948, just a couple of weeks before Israel's Declaration of Independence, he was most probably in the Holy Land, or staffing one of the boatloads of illegal immigrants as a high ranking volunteer in the Palyam.

The photo below was taken after Shabbat/first day Passover, when it's permitted to photograph. Outside of Israel where people celebrate two Passover Seders and have two days of "restrictions," instead of playing piano, they'd be doing Seder #2. One of my older granddaughters was practicing that complicated piano piece  and then was joined by a couple of younger ones. Let that group photo, which shows no faces or identifying features suffice as family Pesach photo.

Multi-hand piano "concert," Passover, 5779, 2019
This year our daughter hosted the Family Passover/Pesach Seder. All our descendants, except one, attended. It was a great thrill to see all of our grandchildren interacting, from the teens to the infants.

Food was  a combination of strictly Ashkenaz and Tunisian traditions. The customs and tunes were also a harmonized combination. Only the very last songs in the Haggadah were loudly sung by in very Ashkenaz tunes. Nobody else could outlast us.

We celebrated Passover and family togetherness. Just a month before the entire clan came to us in Shiloh for the Purim Seuda/Feast. Thank Gd we make efforts to get together whenever possible. I feel very blessed.

Chag Kasher VeSameach to All of You

Friday, April 19, 2019

Solving The "Puzzle," First Passover in New Kitchen

Without a doubt, I am extraordinary pleased with the relative ease I had switching my new kitchen into Passover mode, setting it up for Pesach. Even though I made no real/expense effort to plan/build cabinets special for Passover, there ended up being quite a bit of easy to reach/no need to switch cabinets. 

One of the reasons I didn't want to spend extra is because we're not getting any older--meaning that not only don't I host humongous s'darim anymore but even ad meah esrim-we don't have too many left. But that's also a reason to make the Passover switch easier. Yes, that doesn't make sense completely, but we managed to pull it off. And, no, I didn't hire a kitchen planner. Our son-in-law and I planned the kitchen, with one super brilliant tweak by the guy who was hired to be in charge of and do the shuiputz, renovation.

Our kitchen isn't all that big, but it's not small either. My priorities when planning were to have room for two standard Israeli ovens and two separate full-sized sinks. And I have them.

The dairy sink is an "island," and instead of an eating counter, there are closets underneath facing the dining room table. Those closets are full, actually were partially empty, of dairy and parve Passover dishes, pots, etc. They've been empty enough for me to have stored all sorts of Passover pantry items as we purchased them. That was convenient. 

We didn't need to to much switching. I had plenty of room in the big storage drawers to add my mugs and coffee paraphernalia. Then I cleaned and covered the shelves, filling them with Passover mugs, dairy dishes, etc. The only major cabinet switch was for the meat dishes. My husband was able to climb up for that after I emptied, cleaned and covered the shelves. 

My biggest challenge was covering the counters. I was overjoyed to discover that the "oil cloth" I had bought a couple of years ago was more than sufficient to cover all. Cutting to fit required a lot of brain power, engineering skills. I'm very proud that I pulled it off. Here are some photos.

Tonight is the Pesach/Passover Seder, Gd willing, and it is also Shabbat. Blessings and Joy to All.

Shabbat Shalom
Chag Kasher v'Sameach
May You have a Peaceful Shabbat and Joyful and Kosher Passover

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Pesach Prep, A Little Entertainment

Since I'm not hosting the Passover Seder this year, I didn't have to rush to switch my kitchen to Pesach mode early. We can do it this afternoon, after lunch. But there's still a lot to do. Here are a few of this year's new videos for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mango, Apple, Prune Compote - No Sugar

This amazingly sweet compote doesn't have a drop of added sugar. Actually, almost all of the ingredients had been found hiding in the freezer when I began checking what needed to be thrown out or eaten before Passover.

FYI mangos freeze amazingly well. I have the super simplest way of making Mango Sorbet with just frozen mangos. But the mango I found tucked into the bowels of my fridge freezer had possibly been hiding there too long for me to just eat it raw. It looked and smelled perfect.

When in doubt about the freshness and safety of a food, frequently, all you need to do is to boil it for awhile. So, I checked about using mangos in cooked comptes, and discovered that it is done.

The usual partner for the cooked mangos is apple, and I just happened to have some apple slices frozen solid in the freezer compartment, too. Since there weren't too many apple slices I cut up a nice green one to add to my compote. I also discovered a bag of a few prunes, which joined the mango and apples in the pot. All I needed to add was water.

  • mango
  • apple
  • prunes
Yes, that plus water. The compote was amazingly sweet just from those three ingredients. Of course you can vary by using raisins, pears or other fruit. But I had needed to finish off the mango, apple and prunes. 

Your can't get simpler, tastier or sweeter, and not a drop of added sugar.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Remembering My Father

I just posted about my father, three years after his death, on Shiloh Musings.
My Father, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 3 Years
You can read about him there.

BTW, in one of those strange quirks of Halacha, Jewish Law, I got up from shiva before he was actually buried.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Whether Weather? Which is Right?

I'm a bit of a nutcase. I'm super-highly sensitive to the weather. I'm horrendously phobic about housework and cleaning. I need just the right light and weather to clean my house. The sky must be clear and blue. I need the bright cheery weather to cheer me on.

Last week, when I checked the forecast app on my phone, I saw predictions of perfect pre-Pesach (pre-Passover) cleaning weather, even for my nutty standards. But this morning, when I looked at the sky, at what photographers call "Blue Hour," all I saw was a yellowy grey. I got gypped.

Could this be some temporary aberration?

Sitting at the computer, the view was even worse, and it wasn't just the dirty window panes.

So I checked the phone's weather app again.

IMHO that's a forecast for almost ideal weather.

There's another weather site on my computer, which is also calibrated to Shiloh, so I checked that one.

It predicts a different scenario. Which weather forecast is the correct one?

Adding to my mounting panic is that yellowy tinge I see in the sky. It's a clear sign of desert dust storms. That's a weather phenomenon we never experienced on Long Island.

During our first spring in Israel I learned about dust storms and sandstorms, when the clean wet laundry morphed into awful, sandy yellow dirty laundry after hanging outside on dry but yellow days. Days like today.

If I'm forecasting correctly, from the color of the sky, this may be a very difficult and challenging week to clean the house. Spring cleaning must be done when I can safely open up the windows and hang out lots of laundry. True Passover, Pesach cleaning can still be done. I don't need the outdoors all that much to clean the refrigerator, just good music.

So, now I must motivate myself, recalibrate to plan my pre-Pesach cleaning differently. And that also means that non-kitchen, non-chametz cleaning must be after Passover, when the skies are clear and dust-free.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Most Important Passover Tip

Yes, it's good to empty the freezer, clean, polish, shop, but especially when restocking with Kosher for Passover food remember that:
Passover is only a week long!
Passover is only a week long!


Keep smiling 😃😍

stocking up