Friday, June 18, 2021

DISSONANCE, An Amazing Adventure In The Days of The USSR- A Book Review

DISSONANCE A Novel by Carol Cosman is set in the USSR on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Cosman deftly weaves the struggles of Soviet Jews, USSR dissidents, spies, Israel's security and the difficulties for elite musicians in this fast-paced historical novel.
Young Soviet pianist Natalia Aronovich is poised for international stardom when, in one shocking act, a Red Guard officer interrupts her performance and removes her from the stage. She later learns the KGB has arrested her father, Pravda journalist Mikhail Aronovich, for his undercover involvement with Soviet dissidents, refuseniks, and Israeli Intelligence.
For those too young to remember that era, DISSONANCE is a good introduction. Though I must say that to my knowledge, Cosman may have sanitized and underplayed the dangers

DISSONANCE has very well drawn characters and a fast-paced plot. Actually the book could have been at least fifty or more pages longer if we had been able to read the escape, rather than just a summary. I really enjoyed reading DISSONANCE and recommend it to readers of all ages.

I became an activist for the Soviet Jewry movement as a high school student in the 1960s and even met my husband at a demonstration. In addition, he went on a short mission to the USSR in the mid-1970s from Great Britain where we had been doing Jewish Zionist youth work. Later on back in Israel we were active helping new immigrant Soviet Jews adjust to life in Shiloh. 

It would be wonderful if Cosman could write a sequel, so we'd learn what happened to the very talented and brave Natalia Aronovich.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ (March 10, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 404 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1647192978
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1647192976

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Super Summer Breakfast, Pineapple & Watermelon

One of our Shabbat guests brought us a perfectly ripe pineapple. I served most of it at the meal, and it was enjoyed by all.  This morning I cut off a bit to have as part of my breakfast.

As proof of its ripeness it was very easy to cut, and I enjoyed eating the "inside" of the peel. I added some watermelon and then sesame paste for protein. 

To be honest, I was very curious about the relative calorie counts and nutritional benefits of those two summer fruits. I knew already that watermelon is surprisingly low in calories, but I knew nothing about pineapples. 

Pineapple, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy209 kJ (50 kcal)
13.12 g
Sugars9.85 g
Dietary fiber1.4 g
0.12 g
0.54 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.079 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.032 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.5 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.213 mg
Vitamin B6
0.112 mg
Folate (B9)
18 μg
5.5 mg
Vitamin C
47.8 mg
13 mg
0.29 mg
12 mg
0.927 mg
8 mg
109 mg
1 mg
0.12 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water86.00 g
Watermelon flesh, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy127 kJ (30 kcal)
7.55 g
Sugars6.2 g
Dietary fiber0.4 g
0.15 g
0.61 g
Vitamin A equiv.
28 μg
303 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.033 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.021 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.178 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.221 mg
Vitamin B6
0.045 mg
4.1 mg
Vitamin C
8.1 mg
7 mg
0.24 mg
10 mg
0.038 mg
11 mg
112 mg
1 mg
0.1 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water91.45 g
Lycopene4532 μg

While I'm at it I'll add the nutritional information about sesame paste:

Sesame Paste (Sesame Butter Made From Whole Seeds)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size1 tbsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Values*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin D
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

A New Format For Our Book Club

Last night we had another meeting of the Book Club, with a tasty, filling pot luck dinner. Dessert was scones with all the trimmings. So obviously we would have considered the evening a great success even if the discussion part had been a bust.

This meeting was the most ambitious so far of our new framework. We had been given (actually I think it was my idea) a rather open assignment. Read any book written by Herman Wouk, and as the date of the meeting got closer, I, as facilitator, loosened the requirement a bit. I told the participants that they could even watch one of his books as a movie or see one of the tv shows he had  written or was based on a book of his.

Our custom is to eat first and then talk books. Who can really focus on books when sitting around a table heaped with great food?

As we polished off the scones, we began the meeting. If I remember correctly, first I gave a summary of Wouk's life and discussed his book that I had read, This Is My God, which is a very personal book. Wouk was an Orthodox Jew in a time when it seemed that Jewish Orthodoxy was a dying breed. So we also discussed the state of American Jewry in the mid-twentieth century, which shaped Wouk.

Then I asked everyone to state the book they had read and I wrote it all down. There was only one overlap; two read the Caine Mutiny.  Each member described her book, and what she thought of it. The two who had read Caine Mutiny had a mini-panel discussion. Then we talked about Wouk and what we had learned together. 

We all agreed that this new format is working for us. It's such a relief not to have to search for the same book and/or rush reading so it could be passed on to other members. Our next meeting with deal with a time in history, and we'll all have to find suitable books in the genre.

If you use any of our ideas or are a member of a book club, please let me know in the comments. Thanks

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Shiloh Pool Season 5781, 2021 has Begun

This morning at 7:30am the Shiloh Pool opened for the season. Within a few minutes a handful of us were already in the water.

Adult pool

Children's wading pool

The water was clear, wonderful and reasonably warm for the opening day.  Lots of women showed up. This was our "women's hours," meaning that swimming was only for the 18+. Then the pool closed until early afternoon when girls, and adult women too, had their swimming time.

This "adult" swim time is one of the great advantages of the Shiloh Pool. We can swim, exercise and talk without young children splashing and screaming. No doubt most of the young mothers who had been in the pool when I was there, returned later with their daughters or infant sons.

Season at the pool is only three months, though we're trying to get it lengthened. Gd willing maybe next year. Our real dream is to have it winterized, covered and then the pool will be open most of the year. I was very encouraged by the amount of younger women who had shown up. Such an investment can't be covered just by the senior citizens. Many of us travel to Ariel to swim when our pool is closed, but the younger women don't have as much free time as we do. So if they enjoy the swimming enough... Gd willing we'll have an all year pool.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Updated: Super Simple One-Bowl Cake

Years ago I posted a recipe for my basic cake, and it's one of the most popular of all my posts. I've been baking a version of this cake for decades, almost half a century actually, soon after we got our first oven. I got the basic idea from a cookbook. Now all my cookbooks have been given away or trashed, so when I need one of my recipes, I check my blog.

This basic cake has morphed into all sorts of cakes. I've even used it as a base for ice cream cake. There was a time I made a lot of marble cakes, and when the kids were little I'd make it very low and later on pour jello to harden on it as a treat. Another version of it had cut up leftover apples baked into it. When the kids couldn't be relied on to finish their apples, I'd collect the leftovers in the fridge. 

In recent years I save mushy bananas in the freezer to be mashed into the cake batter, which also gets a generous dose of chocolate chips. After all these decades I must confess that I eyeball the liquids. The only ingredients I'm really careful about are the relative amounts of flour, sugar, eggs and baking powder. Water and oil are approximated, since I know how the batter should mix. I add enough until I'm satisfied.

I bake about a month's worth of cakes and freeze them. Today six cups of flour made five cakes in loaf/Englishcake pans. 

You may have wondered about the color of the cake. It's not white. I use extra fine 70% whole-wheat flour and dark brown sugar. 

Here's the basic recipe for a small cake copied straight from that original blog post. You can double, triple etc. Just make sure your bowl is large enough. If you're using whole wheat flour, you may need a bit extra liquid. I add an extra egg every three cups of flour. And nowadays I use canola oil, since we never find soy in the local store. And in my modern oven I have to know the temperature, 160 Centigrade.  

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 t baking powder
1/6 cup oil (soy)
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 t vanilla

mix dry ingredients
add oil and water
add eggs
pour in pan
bake medium heat
until pops up when gently pressed in center of cake

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Hip Set, A Police Mystery Set in Israel, Book Review

Hip Set  by Michael Fertik is full of surprises. Police/detective mysteries is a favorite genre of mine. Fertik's book didn't disappoint at all.

Hip Set is set in Tel Aviv, which isn't a city I know well, especially the neighborhoods he describes. As small as Israel is, it seems that many of us are pretty ignorant of cities and neighborhoods out of our comfort zones. And I can't imagine a situation that would require me to wander those Tel Aviv neighborhoods which are the refuge for Africans, who find Israel their safety net.

The main character is Oscar Orleans, a Congolese refugee and long-time resident of Israel. Oscar identifies as a Jew, though it's not clear if he has actually converted. With perfect Hebrew, Oscar is the liaison for the African refugee community and finds himself helping his good buddy Inspector Kobi Sambinsky of the Asylum Unit.

When a young African is found murdered, Oscar and Kobi work together to solve the crime and in the process clear up another very surprising mystery or two. The book ends with a teaser, which makes me think that there's another one in the works featuring the same team. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Yes, I definitely recommend Hip Set. It can be enjoyed by old and young readers.

Product details
  • Publisher : Tall Tree Creative Arts LLC (January 1, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 0988413140
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0988413146

Monday, May 17, 2021

Super Easy One Step "Eggplant Parmigiana"


OK I must admit that I'm a lazy cook. I prefer one-pot, one-step recipes. I once watched someone make "real Eggplant Parmigiana," and I was shocked. First she soaked the slices of eggplant, then she coated them in beaten egg, and then bread crumbs and then fried them. Only after that complicated ritual did she do anything like my recipe.

So if you're anything like me you're not interested in the long complicated procedure. Nobody who has eaten my "Eggplant Parmigiana" has spit it out claiming it's "fake." So, here's the recipe.


  • sliced onion
  • sliced eggplant (thin)
  • sliced tomato
  • sliced pepper optional
  • cheese that melts well either slices or grated
  • garlic, oil, any spices you think will be good


  1. layer onion, then, eggplant, tomato then cheese, then onion, eggplant, pepper, tomato and top with cheese.
  2. add spices and some oil
  3. bake in medium oven 160 centigrade until bubbly
Yes, that's it. You can add some squash or zucchini if you want.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Back To "Pot Luck Dinner" Book Club, Thank Gd

 Last night I hosted our local Book Club.

The meeting was our second post-corona get-together, but the first time we got down to the business of literary book discussions. A couple of weeks earlier we just "partied," ate and hashed out how to best conduct meetings. 

Pre-corona our set meeting meant a book that all of were supposed to have read, usually facilitated by the same member. Some months it worked better than others. Buying, borrowing and sharing books can get complicated, even though a few members read most of their books on kindle. As we talked and ate, we realized that maybe we should change our meeting structure. On occasion we may manage to read the same book, but no longer always.

Our new plan is to choose monthly genres or authors. Each month a different member facilitates and decides on details. 

The member who facilitated last night wanted to read a couple of children's classics, Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables. I had never read either of them before, not even as a child. I borrowed Pollyanna from her. I surprised myself by enjoying it. There was a lively discussion about the books. Not everyone read both, and a couple didn't read either one. We agreed that even though we liked the books, we couldn't see our grandchildren reading them. The Harry Potter generation can't relate to the low-tech lives and innocence of Anne and Pollyanna.

Next month's book is The Brigade : An Epic Story of Vengeance, Salvation, and WWII by Howard Blum. If I don't get a copy of the book, I'll try to research the history of the time.

I must admit that in the early days of our book club, we didn't have the pot luck dinner, and the club wasn't all that successful. Once we added the meal at an earlier hour and extra socializing, it really improved our meetings and attendance. I can't remember how many years our book club has been going on. Members are from Shiloh and nearby communities, and we're grandmothers and great-grandmothers, too.

There are book clubs all over the world which follow various "programs." We've even traded books with a few here in Israel. Not only do I enjoy the socializing and literary talk, but it has been good for me to stretch my reading to books I never would have touched if they hadn't been on our "list." What are your experiences with book clubs?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Rosh Chodesh Sivan at Tel Shiloh

One of the most well developed archeological sites in Israel is Shiloh Hakeduma, the Biblical Tel Shiloh. It's the actual location of Shiloh in the Bible, which was the first religious and national Capital of the Jewish Nation.

In Shiloh Chana prayed for a child, and subsequently she gave birth to Shmuel, the Prophet Samuel, who led the Jewish People and anointed the first two kings, Saul and David. 

That's what inspired me to begin to invite women to come to Holy Shiloh on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of each Jewish Month to pray together. 

The upcoming Rosh Chodesh is Sivan 5781, Wednesday May 12. We'll be meeting at 8:30 in the morning. I hope you'll be joining us.

תפילת נשים ראש חודש סיון תשפ"א

יום ד' 12\05\2021 8:30 בבוקר

כולן מוזמנות
For more information about visiting Shiloh Hakeduma 02-5789122, There are activities for all ages. You can also arrange for a private guide, visit the museum, hologram and more.


Monday, April 12, 2021

שפשוואן - Chefchaouen Restaurant Review

As Israel began opening up after months of COVID corona closures I had dinner out with a special person in שפשוואן - Chefchaouen. It's a relatively new restaurant that although opened during the difficult COVID corona restrictions has managed to survive. 

Many of the health restrictions here in Israel seriously affected restaurants, because although the cooks and serving staff can easily mask themselves to keep customers and themselves safe, there's no way that customers can do the same. Therefore only Takeaway was permitted, and quite a few restaurants just stayed closed. That's how my eating partner and I ended up experimenting, trying a new and different restaurant. 

I knew nothing about שפשוואן - Chefchaouen when I called it up to make our reservations, and to be honest, I still can't pronounce its name.

The person who answered the phone was charming with a French accent. I'm sure he was amused that we made reservations, because when we arrived we were the only customers. שפשוואן - Chefchaouen began filling as we ate. It's on Hillel Street #19 where the sidewalk is very wide, and they have an outdoor eating area in a flexible structure. There were just enough walls to keep us warm and comfortable and few enough to make sure we felt safe from unwanted viruses. In today's world, clean, safe fresh air is a priority.

שפשוואן - Chefchaouen is a kosher meat restaurant that serves North-African French style food. As it was a cold night, plus we were in a celebratory mood we ordered our favorite drinks, whiskey and beer. When I questioned the beer list on the menu, which was nothing special, I discovered that they had many more including my favorite, Shapiro's IPA

Maybe it was the chill in the air, because I went against my general practice and ordered a carbohydrate based main course, the couscous. Of course it also comes with vegetables, chicken breast and chickpeas. They were very generous with the chicken, so I was able to fill up easily without having to eat all of the couscous. It was totally delicious. 

The menu they have online is slightly different from what we ordered from, but it doesn't really matter. Everything they served us was first class, 100% scrumptious. We've added שפשוואן - Chefchaouen to our list of favorite restaurants and look forward to eating there again.

To contact them for reservations, questions and takeout call 074-769-1307. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Back To The Ariel Pool


Thank Gd I've returned to my "occasional*" swim in the Ariel Sports Center Pool. The water in the pool isn't as hot as it sometimes was, but it's not cold.

The jacuzzi, sauna and steam room are all closed, due to COVID corona restrictions. And they only let in people who can prove that they've been double vaccinated. I'm not complaining. I really missed my swims, and I'm grateful for every opportunity I have for my water exercise. They extended membership, because the pool had been closed. Gd willing the Shiloh pool, less than five minutes' walk from my house, should open around when the Ariel membership ends. Then after the Shiloh pool closes for the season, I'll Gd willing rejoin Ariel.

That's the plan.

*between one and three times a week

Monday, March 15, 2021

Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey, Book Review

Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey by Arthur Miller is his wonderful saga of how he and his wife ended up in Israel after successful careers in the the states. Miller is a wonderful story teller, honest and humorous.

Having myself made Aliyah a half century ago the easy way, just after our wedding, I always admire those who pack themselves up and change their lives drastically the way the Millers did. Only one of their four children lives in Israel, and they chose to live near her family. Since their Aliyah in 2004, they or their American children and grandchildren now have to fly to see each other.

Miller tells us that their original plan was to make aliyah as a young family, but unfortunately his law profession didn't transfer easily at the time. So instead of raising their family in Israel they ended up raising them in Worcester, Massachusetts, which has a very small percentage of Orthodox Jews. From what Miller alludes to in his book, he played a very large and important role in Worcester. 

"Because it's Israel" was the excuse Miller would hear whenever something seemed strange or illogical. Unlike many, Miller doesn't complain, he just shrugs his shoulders very Israeli-like and repeats the mantra: 

"Because it's Israel"

In Chapter 16, "It Pays to be a Senior," Miller is surprised that his friends couldn't get a senior discount, because they're not Israeli citizens. He wrote that he's sure such discrimination doesn't happen in the United States. I'm sorry to say that in the USA American citizen seniors, if they're expats aren't given senior discounts. During a visit to the states a few years ago, my American passport wasn't accepted as proof of age. I needed proof of residence. American citizenship wasn't enough.

The Millers' aliyah saga includes a lot of "little" and great miracles. The really great miracle is that they lived to come to Israel, since both had serious health emergencies a short while before their target date. Another is that they were able to purchase the exact type of home they had wanted at the exact location, when nothing suitable was actually for sale.

Getting their driving licenses converted to Israeli ones and also buying their first car in Israel certainly needed Arthur Miller's law talents. Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey is full of amazing little stories. Chapters are short, and it's a pleasant read. 

Because It's Israel: An Aliyah Odyssey is a great book to give anyone thinking of aliyah. I'd also recommend it to those of us who've made aliyah before of after the Millers. I enjoyed reading a book about an aliyah which is so very different from my own.

Product details

  • Publisher : JewishSelfPublishing (May 14, 2019)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 246 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9657041015
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9657041017
  • Item Weight : 11.9 ounces
  • Dimensions : 6 x 0.52 x 9 inches

Monday, March 08, 2021

Super Simple Halva-Chocolate Icing

Not long ago I shared with you my recipe for The World's Easiest Chocolate Icing, and now I came up with an equally easy to make Halva-Chocolate version of the icing. 

It contains all of three ingredients:

  • a bar of bittersweet chocolate, 
  • some store-bought halva and 
  • a spoon of vegetable oil, whichever you use
Melt them in either a microwave-just melted not boiling hot, or pot on low heat or double boiler. Mix then spread/pour onto the cake.

Yes, it's hard to believe, but that's it. 

If you have ideas of other versions, please try it out and send me the reports in the comments here. Thanks.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Good Thing I Got To Try SHEVET's Wee Laddie Again

A couple of months ago, I bought and reviewed SHEVET's Wee Laddie Scottish Ale and was disappointed. Yes, I gave it a bad review on this blog. A lot of people were shocked, because they insisted that the beer was really good. Maybe I had just gotten a "bad bottle," or the store hadn't kept it stored properly.  

In response SHEVET decided to send me a small gift selection of their beers, which included Wee Laddie. I've already reviewed the other three, SHEVET IPA, SHEVET Iceman Beer, SHEVET Imperial Stout, and now it's time for Wee Laddie. 

Even though I poured it as carefully and "professionally" as possible, there still was quite a foamy head, but the aroma was inviting. That was a very good start.

It got better. The beer in this bottle of SHEVET Wee Laddie was strong, fruity and tasty, a real beer. This was the ale I had been looking forward to drinking when I had bought that first bottle.

Now I can honestly say that SHEVET's Wee Laddie is a great beer, and I'm looking forward to drinking it again.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Perfectly Filling and Tasty Vegetable Soup


I discovered how to make vegetable soups decades ago, and to be perfectly honest now two are ever exactly the same. That's why I'm not very specific about quantities. I don't measure, though I do have a very good eye for quantities. I instantly know how much to put in a pot. You may have to experiment, but on the whole, especially if you're using dried beans, barley, lentils or peas, remember that they swell. So they should only cover the bottom of the pot. 


lentils, pearl barley and split peas
fresh garlic
coarse salt, coarse black pepper and dehydrated parsley


  1. Put the lentils, pearl barley and split peas in the pot, and check for small stones or anything that shouldn't be there.
  2. Pour boiling water and cover. Wait at least a couple of hours.
  3. Cut all the vegetables, and add them to the pot. 
  4. Add a couple of spoons of vegetable oil, whichever you like for cooking.
  5. Start cooking, and add boiling water, not too close to the top of the pot. Two-thirds full is good, usually.
  6. Add the seasoning.
  7. Heat to a boil, and then lower flame to simmer. 
  8. Simmer for at least an hour.
That's it. Enjoy!

PS You can add other vegetables, seasoning etc.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Lonely Ayil, A Book Review

I was overjoyed to be offered a review copy of The Lonely Ayil by Rochell Weisfogel. It's a wonderful story for children about community and caring. 

To borrow a phrase "You don't have to be Jewish..." to enjoy the story, its messages and read it to your kids, grandkids, students etc. There's a glossary in the end of the book which explains all the terms. 

The values taught within the narrative are universal. 

Nowadays, when people are donating kidneys, even to total strangers, you can read The Lonely Ayil to explain to your children that there are parts of the body that can be shared, donated to others more in need. 

There's also the siyate d'Shmaya, hand of Gd aspect, when the ayil, a ram, finds itself in the perfect place and perfect time to help others. 

Today when we're all "locked down" or more restricted than we'd like to be, it's very easy to identify with the lonely ayil. 

The Lonely Ayil is not a nonsense fairy tale. Once you buy it and read it to your young, and not so young children, I'm sure that you, too will find a lovely story and the perfect vehicle for discussions.

The Lonely Ayil can be ordered in various formats from Amazon.

Product details

  • Publisher : Page Publishing, Inc. (October 31, 2017)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 34 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1641382694
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1641382694

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The World's Easiest Chocolate Icing


Cupcake Iced and Decorated With Chocolate Icing

I was trying to think of an easy and enjoyable activity for my younger grandchildren when it occurred to me that they could decorate some cupcakes I had baked.

This "icing recipe" is so simple, it can hardly be called a recipe. The "hardest" thing was adding bittersweet chocolate to the Friday shopping list.


    bittersweet chocolate

    a little cooking oil

    spoon of sugar

    colored sprinkles or whatever


    melt all ingredients together either in pan on low heat, or in microwave


    spoon on cake/cupcake

    Optional: sprinkle with colored sprinkles, coconut flakes or "whatever"

Let cool and enjoy

Now tell me the truth. Isn't this 

The World's Easiest Chocolate Icing