Sunday, September 25, 2016

For a Healthy Year, How about a Fruit Head!

head for 5775
Last week my friend Rose and I were wandering about Machane Yehuda, and we spied some "heads," not at all like the heads I make for the Rosh Hashana table. These were big raw meaty ones. She took some photos, and I, for whatever reason, didn't. They really looked disgusting.

OK, granted that people don't put raw heads on their table, but expect for the pre-Rosh Hashana season, not too many people are in the market to buy an animal head to cook as a centerpiece.

And yes, this is my reminder that there is a nice pretty enjoyable way to to have a Head centerpiece to bless your family, loved ones and guests for a healthy new year. Make a "fruit head." More and more families are adopting my custom every year. Enjoy!

Shana Tovah, Metukah u'Briyah!
May You have a Good, Sweet and Healthy New Year!

 Fruit Head for a Healthy Jewish Year, 5776

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Easy One-Pot Chicken Meal

OK, just to be totally honest, I must admit that although I call this a "One-Pot Meal" I serve it with more foods. I served this on Shabbat to my husband and a couple of guests. There were also a nice fresh salad and two other vegetable dishes. But I didn't bother with an additional carbohydrate, and most people would find this enough with either a fresh salad and/or additional vegetable.

Of course, you can always cook this with more potatoes and/or carrots. I actually added another potato before putting it in the oven.  Be sure to put the squash, if you use it, inside the chicken, or it will burn, since it cooks more quickly than any of the other ingredients. And vegetables should be cut in large pieces or not at all.

1 whole chicken
a couple of carrots
a large squash or zucchini
a potato or more
an onion
some garlic
paprika, black pepper and whatever you like

I baked it in an old Farberware, stainless steel pot, that had "lost" its handle. I started baking it without a cover, and after about a half an hour, I covered it with aluminum foil. It baked for a couple of hours, high heat. Use whatever heat your oven manufacturer recommends. Probably an hour and a half would have sufficed. It depends on the size of your chicken. This was a small one, which is why not all of the vegetables fit inside.

Everyone enjoyed the meal, and this sure is a good way to utilize an old pot of fantastic quality.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Instead of The Usual Shabbat Wine... Israeli Beer

A few years ago, my friend Doug, of  Israel Brews and Views, got me hooked on Israeli craft beers. Since then, I've even been a panelist at tastings he has run. And I also attended a beermakers session at Biratenu in downtown Jerusalem. 

Not that long ago, it was very hard to buy Israeli craft beers in stores; you had to find the beermakers by word of mouth. But I've had some from the larger ones in restaurants in the shuq (Machane Yehuda) and now there are quite a few stores selling them.

The big problem is carrying the bottles home. They don't sell brands like these in Rami Levy, Sha'ar Binyamin, sigh. I would love to drink these Israeli beers on Shabbat instead of wine. Someday, Gd willing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quest for Good Ground Coffee in Jerusalem

Of course, I can just perk Elite Turkish when I'm all out of American coffee... Yes, that's what would be easier. Except that I especially like my cold brew in the French press, which I've been making recently. It's extraordinary, especially when using the Folgers I brought back from New York. But all good things must come to an end, and even that super-giant size container only lasted a couple of months, even though I didn't use it every single day. Turkish coffee is too powdery for a French Press; it's great for cooking/perking. It stays in the "box" of the percolator, but it's too fine for a French Press. I've also used it in my fine coffee filter, though it sort of clogs it a bit.

So I needed to find a source of coffee in Jerusalem. There are quite a few places that will custom-grind your coffee for you. The other day I was in Machane Yehuda with a  friend and we went into one of those treasure houses of stores, in which you can get all sorts of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, dried-spiced vegetables, flavorings, spices and coffee, beans and ground to order. This one is "Shuq Hatavlinim," "Spices Market," on the main drag, 18 Machane Yehuda Street.

You can get an idea from the photos above. Since the coffee isn't cheap, I decided to choose between the two least expensive beans, Colombian and Brazilian, both NS12 per 100 grams. I asked which was stronger, and I was told to take the Brazilian. A comment on an earlier post about coffee, someone suggested tasting the ground coffee. So, this time, I first asked for a tiny sample of the coffee ground as coarsely as possible for a French Press. And of course, the salesman complied. It wasn't quite a coarse as American packaged coffee but I figured that I'd give it a try. I bought 200 gram, and today was the day.

This morning's facebook haiku:
cold brew coffee now
beans ground in Jerusalem
Brazilian, tasty
Last night I prepared the cold brew:

placed 3 heaping Tbls in carafe 
added water, stirred before chilling
Here's the coffee!
It's a bit too weak, so I'll try it with more coffee next time. Also there seemed to be a bit less coffee than usual. But the good part was that in the morning all of the coffee grounds had sunk to the bottom of the carafe, and I didn't have to stir very hard, which is necessary with American coffee. At least it was necessary with the Folgers. I'd need to experiment with freshly ground American coffee, like I've gotten in Fairways. It may have something to do with the manufacturing of ground coffee that keeps the grounds very hard. Also, it may be that my freshly ground beans absorbed more water, and that's why there was a bit less coffee for my cup/to drink.

PS As you can see, I've started a facebook hashtag, #‎morningcoffeehaiku‬ which you're welcome to join.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hand it to 52Frames

This week's challenge for 52Frames was "Hands." I must admit that after about three years, never missing a week, I'm on the verge of burnout. And I do find it rather depressing frustrating that some of my favorite photos, of those I've submitted, are ignored. There is an unofficial competitive bent in all this. There are well-heeled professionals with the best of equipment, and there are amateurs with top-notch equipment. And there are members with lots of enthusiastic friends who always "like" their photos, and then there are members like myself with bargain equipment and fewer fans, if any.

Hands aren't all that easy to photograph. My previous tries, other years, were worse than pathetic. Davka during the days I could take the photo, which must be only from early Monday morning, Israel Time, to the following early Monday morning, I wasn't any place good for the "challenge." I did sneak a couple of shots on the bus one day. And I had taken a photo of my husband's hands last year and mine the year before... Neither were decent photos.

Then all of a sudden, as I left the pool last Friday, the last day it was open this season, I got a brainstorm. It suited my mood. I felt I'd be mocking the whole super-sharp macro, wrinkled, hairy hand scene. My brainstorm would be like hanging a "fingerpainting" next to some dainty Japanese landscape painting. For the "hands" I took my bright blue swimming gloves and placed them on the edge of the pool. I took a few pictures, some with and some without the flash. I didn't use Automatic mode.

Swim HandsI wear these swimming gloves when in the pool. They add to my upper body exercise, and friends with poor eyesight recognize me by my blue gloved hands. We have now ended our pool season here in Shiloh. I hope to wear these "hands" in other pools over the next nine or so months before the local one reopens.
Ironically, there are people who like this photo, and it certainly stands out. It's totally different from all the others. And you should know, that I used the flash for this photo. Even though the sunlight was extremely bright at the time, this photo with the extra light is much more interesting and striking than the one without the flash. Recently, I haven't been using the Automatic flash, in which the camera chooses if flash is needed. Either I prefer no flash or even if there's light, I want the addition of the flash.

This was taken seconds before, but without the flash.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Finally Ate at Jerusalem's Iconic Rachmo's

For years I'd heard of this excellent, simple low-price meat restaurant Rachmo. It's just off the the main part of the Mahane Yehuda Open Air Market, which has gone rather yuppy or upscale in recent years.

You can get anything from low price carrots to boutique fashions to fancy jewelry, or bargain clothes or yummy fruit or even pet accessories. There are lots of bars, and even more open at night when the vegetable stands close. This is your shopping center of multiple personalities.

Rachmo is located at 5 Eshcol St, Jerusalem, phone 02-623-4595. It's less than a block from the original Rami Levy grocery store which has blossomed into a large Israeli chain of discount supermarkets. My friend and I could see it from the window by our table.

Before finding ourselves at Rachmo, my friend and I had wandered around the shuq looking for a place to eat. We like simple, healthy and inexpensive meals, preferably something we don't make at home. Although Machne Yehuda is known for bargains, we found many of the restaurants too expensive. And even though we were there on Monday, a relatively quiet day for shopping in Machane Yehuda, it was too noisy. Some of the noise came from renovations and other noise was the "music" playing in the restaurants which chased us away. That's why we ended up on the side street. When we saw the Rachmo sign, we decided to check it out, mostly out of curiosity but with a large dose of hunger, too.

For us Rachmo was an oasis of calm and quiet. The prices looked good, too. And, yes, of course it's Kosher. We had to line up with a tray by the opening to the kitchen, where we asked for food from the pans, pots and trays. They didn't have everything on the menu; I had wanted to try their musakka. But instead we both had Kubbe Soup. It was delicious, homemade style, just perfect. And it only cost NS33-

Yes, the soup is a meal. For us it was a perfect lunch! And next time I'm there, I hope they have Moussaka, and if they don't I'll be happy to try something else.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Season Ended, Sigh...

Why must all good things come to an end? Especially healthy facilities should be open forever. Yes, you may have guessed the problem. Pool season is over, sigh, rant, cry, shout and complain. Right?

This year the pool water seemed even warmer than in recent years.

That may be because I was in New York (seeing my brother before he did) for the opening days, and the unseasonably supre-hot weather in June quickly heated the water before my return. And don't think I missed pool days. In a sense I didn't even though I wasn't home the first week or more the pool was open. Luckily I spent most of that visit staying with a friend who has a pool in her building.

This year's pool season was much too short, and each year more and more neighbors are retiring or working less. We want more pool time!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shiloh Night Scene

Tonight, after Shabbat, I went down to a neighbor's house to hear of her trip to China and teaching Chinese Hebrew and some Tanach, Bible. When I stepped out, I saw the amazing Mishkan, Tabernacle synagogue all lit up.

Recently, there has been major renovations done to the synagogue, which includes the lighting. I think it's gorgeous.

Now, if you're not yet aware, the synagogue was designed to follow the description in the Bible of the Mishkan, which was a traveling/portable tabernacle, prayer hall, used by the Jewish People during the forty years wandering the wilderness from Egypt to the Holy Land, and then reassembled on a permanent platform in Shiloh, where for 369 years it was the forerunner of the Holy Temple later built in Jerusalem. And the Biblical location of Shiloh is today's Shiloh, where I live. So, when the families that first moved to Shiloh in the late 1970's wanted to build a large community synagogue, it was obvious that it had to resemble the Biblical Mishkan, Tabernacle.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Easy Care Pet?

It seems that whenever I look at my kitchen window "the creature" is there. Just as I was about to turn off the "Shabbat light," there he was.

And when the Bezeq guy was changing our cables the other day, he was there, too.

As long as he eats bugs and cleans up his own messes, he's welcome to stay.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Trying Something New at Piccolino

I took this photo for 52Frames just
before walking in. 
This week my "chevruta," learning group for the Matan Al Haperek Tanach (Bible) course met for a festive lunch in Piccolino, the best dairy restaurant in Jerusalem. They gave us a table in a quiet place, since we planned on doing our weekly learning there after eating.

Instead of my usual salads, I decided to have the "Soup of the Day," which was lentil and their Eggplant Parmesan. They were both totally delicious!

My friends had the Health Salad, Seared Tuna Salad and the Antipasti, which were all praised. Piccolino is strictly kosher, Mehadrin. As you know, I have eaten there many times with family, friends and even when alone. Enjoy!

רחוב יואל משה סולומון 12 ירושלים
12 Yoel Moshe Solomon Street, Jerusalem

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Repair Day: Washing the Internet?

OK, to make sense, both the washing machine and the internet connection needed repairs. Honestly, I really can't complain. It's not like I'm always stuck home waiting for repairmen. It's actually pretty rare. And considering that I was expecting two in one day... Now, that's timing one must thank Gd for!! For sure.

Just like with illnesses, I don't rush for professional help when there's a technical glitch. I hope that it will "heal"itself. It did start seeming strange and suspicious when the "locked" light would suddenly be lit on the washing machine... while it was off and even when the door was open. It's supposed to remind us that the door can't be opened, even if you pull real hard. And if you pull hard enough, you may cause serious damage to the washing machine. But the light kept suddenly going on, and it didn't keep the door locked. And then the whole house shorted when I turned on the machine. Yes, that couldn't be ignored, like Hillary Clinton's fainting in public. There are times you must call in the professionals. So, while Hillary was home in Chappaqua trying to beat her pneumonia to submission, I took a break from my laundry and waited for the repairman.

And as you know, since I had blogged about it last week, we have been having internet connection problems. The idiots Bezeq customer service telephone staff kept trying to offer me a new router box. They would even have it delivered any place in Jerusalem, so we could install it ourselves. I declined and demanded a technician. It took a week, but he finally arrived.

And as you can see, the problems had nothing to do with that little box. As I had suspected, it was all in the cables.

Now we can get back to business washing and blogging... and a bit of facebook and email, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Jerusalem Train Stop in Center of Town and the Jewish Calendar

Indian summer in Jerusalem. Well, actually it's normal weather for September before Rosh Hashanah. this year the holidays will seem a bit late, since they are celebrated according to the Jewish Calendar and not the "regular" aka goyish one. The Jewish is lunar, according to the moon's cycles and the "other" calendar is solar. The Muslim one is also lunar, but it doesn't work like the Jewish one. 

Jewish Holidays must be celebrated in the right season, so since twelve lunar months come up short in terms of the solar, we add a month every couple of years by a special formula which keeps our holidays in the correct season. The Muslims don't do that correction, so their holidays float all over the solar calendar and have no seasonal connection. 

One of the reasons the Jewish Holidays must be in the correct season is because we are an agricultural people connected to the Land of Israel. And the Muslims aren't connected...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happily 52Frames

These colorful umbrellas make me smile!
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
This week's challenge for 52Frames was "Emotion," and I ended up sending in a picture of these gorgeous umbrellas which have been hanging in the sky of downtown Jerusalem, instead of the photo of my husband looking so serious at his computer.

Both photos were taken with my phone, a rather primitive/limited Samsung Galaxy II Plus. That's because we're having trouble, still, with the modem in the house. Gd willing the technician will be over tomorrow and get it all fixed/replaced.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Strange Visitor- Hope He Really Eats Bugs!

The other day I walked into the kitchen and saw this thing.

People say they eat bugs, and I hope that's true.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cooking Lamb? Looking for No Fail Healthy Recipes

For the past few years just before Rosh Hashanah, my husband has been hinting for me to cook some lamb. So, maybe I'll take the plunge. Here are some giant frozen "things" labeled as "lamb" in Rami Levy, the discount supermarket I sometimes/frequently shop in, since it's next to Yafiz where I work.

These "things" are a bit large for my freezer and my oven, but I trust that they shrink when thawed out. The recipes I've seen aren't very appetizing. So, I'm asking my loyal, trusted and creative readers for help. And of course it must be kosher, meaning no adding dairy or fish products.

You should know that I'm not interested in adding a jar of jam or bottle of juice (especially not concentrate) or a cup of oil or things like that. I'm not that sort of cook...

So, please comment with your suggestions, guidelines and recipes. If you're a reader of this blog, you know that I'm not very good at following recipes and measuring, unless it's a cake. So, let's see if this request helps, thanks.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wabi Sabi, When Imperfect is Simply Stunning, 52Frames

This week for 52Frames the theme/challenge was Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi? You may wonder what it is:
Wabi-sabi (?) represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[2] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常mujō?), suffering ( ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature ( ?).
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetryasperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. Wikipedia
I had a few pictures to choose between and then I saw these leaves on the walkway near my house and realized that they were just the epitome of the concept. And for once my camera caught them perfectly.

"Lonely Leaves"
I had taken lots of photos for this "challenge" and was about to send one in when I noticed these lonely deserted, rather dried out leaves. I just took one shot, not expecting much, but when I looked at the photo... I just knew... This is what Wabi Sabi is all about!

Camera: Canon Canon IXUS 145
Shutter: 1/250th of a second
Aperture: f/11
ISO: 100 and below
Location: Shiloh, Israel
These two photos were those I thought were good as Wabi Sabi, but that was before the leaves. Did I choose right? What do you think?

"Lonely Leaves" isn't at all popular with the 52Frames crowd...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

People Should Pay Compliments, Too...

This is a rant, sorry:

As you know, I work in a store, which is part of a chain, and the chain is part of a very big Israeli retail/discount business, Rami Levy. And I'm going to admit that during the close to six years I've been working here in Yafiz, I've been reported as "nasty" to customers more than once.

It's just too easy for people to find a "higher up" or just call the main office or say a few negative words to someone in the "office" by the Rami Levy cashiers.

Generally the complaints are about my asking that their children stop doing dangerous things like running through the clothes racks. Just the other day a woman, who claimed to know my bosses well, threatened me, because a I had asked her child to stop his shrill whistling in the tiny shoe store where I was attempting to serve/help her and other customers.

After she had finally left, another customer said:
"It's obvious that she doesn't work with the public."
And I replied:
"People love to make formal complaints, but they don't bother to send in official compliments on good service."
That's the truth. On a personal level, people are nice and thank and compliment me, but they don't take it further to the "bosses." So many people find it easier to criticize than compliment. It's the same with parenting and teaching. The negative is emphasized much more than the positive. That's something we should all work on, Gd willing.