Monday, April 24, 2017

Oops! How Can I Fix This?

For the very first time I opened a bottle of wine with a corkscrew. That's the good news. The bad news is that the cork is stuck in the opener/corkscrew.




I'd appreciate suggestions. And even better, if you live nearby, please come and help, thanks.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Some Changes, Hope it Helps

Nothing to worry about. That green thing snaking around my front garden is an old-fashioned hose for watering the garden. It was bought ages ago and hadn't been used for years. I was surprised to discover that there don't seem to be no leaks. The gardener who had worked on our little vineyard, and is also the vintner of the wine made from our grapes, has been after me to water it during the dry summer months.



And since I've also invested money in getting the rose bushes separated from the grapevines in front of the house, I started watering them, too. I  hope that the water and the fertilizer the gardener had added will give us more and more beautiful roses.

We're also planning on planting bushes around the back of our property as a "fence," and it occurred to me that since we'll both be home a lot more in the future, it really doesn't pay to invest in a "watering system." There's no reason we shouldn't just use the hose. We can buy one for the other side of the house.

For a very long time, I didn't pay much attention to the garden, but now it's time for change. What do you think?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 1 in Macro

cross-posted in Shiloh Musings




Pirkei Avot, generally translated as Ethics of the Fathers begins with:
1. Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. (Chabad)
That's to show or remind us that Jewish Law is derived from Gd and has been passed on from generation to generation of Jews.

Yes, that's the message to the Jewish People.  But what about individuals, especially those who have returned to Torah Judaism after a generation or more of our family didn't observer mitzvot? Or what about the convert who has no family customs/memories to follow?

In my family I was considered a "rebel" when I became Torah observant, since my parents, and even some of my grandparents had thrown off the "yoke" of Torah. I didn't grow up with any strong religious memories or family customs. And sometimes I feel the alack.

The other day I was with a couple of friends. Besides me, there was a convert and one from a long unbroken line of Torah observant Jews. The convert and I spoke about things we had asked rabbis, while the one from the unbroken line admitted that she never had.

And I replied that many of the questions we asked the rabbi were simple halachik, Jewish Law questions, because for those of us who have no family customs to go by and no family to ask, it makes more sense to ask the rabbi.

Sometimes when you look for the answer yourself, you get more confused or end up getting it all wrong.

This reminds me of a game we played as kids. We'd pass around a "message." The first one would whisper something in the ear of the next child, who would whisper to the next, on and on, and the last one had to say it outloud. Most frequently, the message would be so garbled it bore no resemblance to the original.

In Judaism, that's why we still have copies of the Torah text and learn it all and the Mishna and Talmud on a regular basis. It's just too easy to get off track and distort things. And there's the tradition to learn Pirkei Avot every year after Passover. And Pirkei Avot reminds us that there's an unbroken chain from Moshe who heard from Gd when he and the Jewish People were on their way to the Holy Land after escaping slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lovely Meal in Talpiyot, Jerusalem

Yesterday my friend and I unexpectedly found ourselves searching for a nice, but not expensive, lunch menu in the Baka/Talpiyot neighborhood. We didn't want meat, but we also didn't want to spend a ridiculous amount on a salad. After walking around for quite a while in the hot sun, we decided to escape to the Achim Yisrael Mall, on Yad Harutzim Street and Hatnufa Streets, which although doesn't have too many food options, ended up having the perfect little dairy restaurant.

It's one flight up and surrounded by various stores. They seemed to have nice coffee and cakes, but that wasn't what we were after at all. There was also a Kashrut certificate, which I'm sorry I didn't photograph. I couldn't find an internet site for them, but their phone number is 02-6725491, as you can see on their card above.

Before taking a look at the menu and ordering we walked around to see what people were eating, and we were very impressed. Though we still didn't know the prices.

There is quite an extensive menu for a place so small. In the end we ordered from the list of specials and split them between us. We ordered their Salmon Plate, NS60, and Beet Patties, NS30. While they prepared  or assembled our meal, we were served some delicious salads on the prettiest of plates.

We were given small glass plates, so we could share easily. Then the meal arrived.

First the beet patties. Later I mentioned to the staff that they should have come with either sour cream or a white cheese, and the reply was that if we had requested it, they would have given it.

We were so hungry when the salmon came that we had already divided it and begun eating before I remembered to photograph it. It also came with nice side salads.


Everything was fresh and delicious. We found it to be a very pleasant and satisfying meal.



As you can see, this excellent little "restaurant" is surrounded by stores of all sorts including a lovely hat store, as seen above. Many of the stores are "outlets" with discount prices. So even though Achim Yisrael isn't one of the fancier malls with the big name chains, you can do very well shopping there. 

The restaurant and the mall are highly recommended. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

We Don't Shop on Internet, So are We Unnecessarily Paranoid?

money
every penny counts
Sometimes I think that my husband and I are the very last people to resist shopping on the internet via our phones and computers. I haven't even paid for the "extra reliable antivirus" that cost money. There are two basic reasons I haven't started.

  1. I just don't trust the security, since anyone can access via phone, computer, hacking etc.
  2. It's just too easy to buy things you don't need or you never would have bought if you had seen it f2f.
When I was at the bank recently, I asked the young "banker clerk" if she thought I was a bit crazy in refusing to use our credit card on the computer. She insisted that I was, "because it's all insured," she insisted. I had been wondering if it's possible to get an additional card with limited usage, meaning we'd have to periodically add money to it, and it would be impossible to allow it the accepted Israeli "overdraft" and subsequent fines-interest charges. The clerk pooh poohed that idea. Maybe because she's trained to help the bank make more money, like from interest and overdrafts.

Another reason I haven't really wanted to shop online is that I prefer dealing with real people. That's one of the reasons I did so well as a saleswoman in Yafiz for all those years. 

I also asked on facebook, which is such a helpful open forum at times like this. People did say that you can report unauthorized use of your credit card, but then you do have to prove that it wasn't you. And according to a friend, to do that quickly enough you must set up your account so that you get immediate notifications.

Finally on facebook a couple of people told me that we can buy special credit cards from the post office in which we fill it with a specific amount of money, and it can be recharged when empty. Those sound just like what I had envisioned. The only problem is to get to a post office when it's open and when I have time to go in.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Post-Passover Laundry "Ditties"

Yesterday, I did a lot of laundry. Laundry is one of the things many people avoid doing during the Passover holiday, including the "intermediate" Chol Hamo'ed days, which are of holiday status and restrictions. By the time we put away all of our Passover kitchen gear Monday night and set the regular stuff back in their places, there was a ton of wash waiting to be done. So I set up the machine with a heavy, takes a couple of hours, wash on a timer to be ready first thing yesterday morning.

And after hanging the wash I photographed it and wrote a "little ditty" and posted it on facebook.  And then for some crazy reason, each time I finished a wash and hung it, I took a picture and wrote another crazy rhyme, #laundry. Here they are with some of the photos:
first laundry hung
enjoying the bright spring sun

Far from through
I've added laundry number two

Here's the third-
What! No clapping heard?

Here's number 4
and there's going to be more!

Just hung out wash number five
and feel very alive!

No tricks
This is wash six

Now that seven washes are hung
I can go out and have fun!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Coffee- Post-Passover!

Yes, our house/kitchen is sort of back to normal. Of course there are a gazillion things that have to return to their proper places. A kitchen is a lot more complicated than a dish-drainer. We will get there, Gd willing.

This morning I finally opened a brand new, never tried before coffee. As you can see, it's a Kirkland, extra strong, and even though is claims to be "fine ground," it's a bit coarser than the Israeli "coarsest" and did absolutely fine in my French Press. Absolutely no annoying coffee grounds can be found on the bottom of the mug! And it does have that super-strong "dark roast" flavor, just like the label says.



I'll be enjoying this coffee for a nice while. Bli neder, not a vow, I'll let you know when it's finished.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Why does This Passover Feel Different?

For some strange reason I just can't wait for this year's Passover to be over.

All other years I want it to go on. I look back at all the work, all the preparation and expenses and sort of mutter to myself, said with that Yiddish inflection so popular with Jewish comedians:
"All this for just a one week holiday?"



I probably should have gotten my act together and invited lots of people. Hosting generally puts me in a better mood. But my barely functioning kitchen makes cooking very difficult and time consuming. Things take ages to cook on the simple two-burner hotplate/stovetop I've been using since the gas stove smells. My after the school year is over plan is to design and order a new kitchen. No doubt it will take all summer from beginning to end, if not longer. I do have the basic design and just need a professional to work out the details, then hire workers and buy two full-size ovens and a nice new stove-top.

Baruch Hashem, Thank Gd, we did have a totally wonderful Passover Seder and first day Holiday at our daughter's with most of our kids and all the grandchildren, bli eyin haraa. It was a real treat to hear the two and a half year old ask the "four questions." And even the first grader read from the Haggadah.

One of the problems with this year's Passover, unlike the previous two, is that there were only two full days of chol hamoed, the "intermediate days" when you have a full day to travel, host etc. Of course, I can't really complain, since out of Israel, there was only one! At least I did manage to get out of the those on both the days. On the first day I went down to see what was doing in Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, and on the second day we went to Jerusalem and saw cousins.



It's hard to believe that in just over thirty-six 36 hours we'll be putting all the Passover stuff away and taking out the "regular kitchen."

Gd willing, next year will be much better! Enjoy and Chag Kasher v'Sameach!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

SPRING! Flowers All Over

The other day when I took a walk around the neighborhood I just couldn't resist photographing all the gorgeous flowers in my Shiloh neighborhood. It's Passover, springtime and beautiful! Yes, besides burning calories a walk is a visual pleasure. 










Please don't ask me the names of the plants, but if you know them, comment, thanks.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #15, New "Pit Stop" in Town

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See #14#13#12#11#10#9,  #8#7,  #6,  #5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1

I just noticed this convenient public toilet recently. It's at the Jaffa Street entrance to Nachalat Shiva and Rivlin Street.



There aren't too many stalls, but it's very convenient and seems to be kept up well even during the busy holiday and vacation time.

I'm sure that the nearby restaurants are happy that it has opened, because fewer people will enter using theirs and not buying food.

As you know I'm always on the lookout for convenient and well-stocked clean loos. This WC seems great so far. I'll have to check it out again. And, yes, I  do remember that I'd promised to search out the "Ladies Room" in the Machane Yehuda market. So far, I haven't had the time.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Sweet" Vegetable Soup, Kosher for Passover and Good All Year

Generally my Vegetable Soups are based on some sort of legume, which I don't eat on the Passover Holiday, but this soup is different. I made it to go with the Vegan aka "Eggless" Matzah Balls, Kneidlach.


As you can see from the photo above, these are the ingredients, cut in bite-size chunks:
onion
carrot
mushroom
parsley root
sweet potato
fresh parsley
I sauteed them in olive oil and then added water, covered of course, to boil and then simmer after adding the matzah balls.



The sweet potatoes and mushroom added the flavor and richness to substitute for my usual peas or lentils. As it cooked the aroma was sweet. This is definitely a filling and festive soup, but so easy to make.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Vegan (Eggless) Kneidlach, Matzah Balls, A Great Success

Our family now includes a vegan, that's someone who doesn't eat any animal products at all-- including eggs! We want her to feel very welcome, so I decided to try to make her Kneidlach for the Passover Seder, since I was making the regular ones for the rest of the family, at least those members who are willing to eat the classic Ashkenaz delicacy. My daughter had made her a whole variety of Chanukah "Latkes" for that holiday get-together. Since that daughter was our Passover Seder host, I took on the challenge to make Vegan Kneidlach.

I based it on a recipe I found on the internet, the Edgy Veg,  Vegan Matzah Balls. But of course I tweaked it quite a bit. I also cooked them in simple, but rich Vegetable Soup.

Here's the official recipe copy/pasted, but I've crossed out and substituted what I had changed:
Ingredients
  • 2 just over 1 1/2 cup matzo meal, unsalted
  • 1 cup seltzer water
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil olive oil
  • ½ 3/4 cup potato starch + 6-12 tbsp water to make a starchy goop
  • 1 tsp pinch salt + to taste
  • ½-1 tsp a bit pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
Instructions
  1. In medium size bowl combine the matzo, salt, pepper and herbs with a whisk spoon until combined. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix the potato starch and water together until you get a thick, starchy goop.
  3. To this potato starch goop add coconut olive oil and seltzer and gently mix until combined.
  4. Add the matzo meal and seasonings and mix until it all comes together.
  5. This mixture should not be sticky. If its too dry, add a spritz more of seltzer, and if it’s too wet, add a little more matzo meal. You should be able to mix it you’re your hands without having it stick to all your fingers.
  6. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  7. After an hour, form the dough into balls and add them to your boiling soup broth.
  8. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook the balls for 25-30 minutes.
  9. After your matzah balls are cooked, you can serve them with broth right away 3-4 per bowl of soup.
  10. If you are serving the soup later, remove the balls from the soup to prevent sogginess, and store them in a Tupperware storage container.*
  11. When you are ready to serve the soup flash boil the balls in broth and serve.
* We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Kneidlach I had missed in my attempt to remove them all from the hot soup were perfectly formed and had survived well in the soup. My daughter just added the Matzah Balls to the soup bowl when serving soup. She did the same with the classic ones made with eggs for the Chicken Soup, since some of the family does not enjoy Ashkenaz foods.

Here are the photos:


The mix was very firm 

They were easy to form into balls

The matzah balls looked lovely in the soup, but they don't expand and get all "fluffy" like egg-based kneidlach.

Here they are in their storage container. 

After mixing, I put it in the refrigerator and made the Vegetable Soup. And that soup will be another blog post.

Our vegan said that they were delicious and took the leftovers home with her!