Friday, February 24, 2017

Baile Rochel Going "Modern"

That's in centigrade
Toasting the toasty room, even before
the pictures were rehung. 
OK, maybe for some of you, this is very 20th century deja vu, but here we are in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century and this family, OK more accurately an alte kakker couple, just got its very first modern "airconditioner," which unlike the ones of the mid-20th century heats as well as cools.

When we planned and built this house over thirty years ago, we tried to be as modern and clever as possible. I had read of "passive solar heating" and hoped that our large eastern and southern windows, plus specially constructed double walls, would make expensive heating almost unnecessary. The idea was that the free solar-from the sun- heat would enter the house and stay on sunny days. Even though our winters are the only season it rains, and even snows some years, most winter days are sunny. Of course, clever me ignored the simple reality that the summer sun would bake us...

Somehow we did survive those early winters by using a simple kerosene heater in the winter, a few small blow-heaters and the heat a large family plus guests add to a house. In the summer, we'd leave the windows open and pretend that it wasn't all that hot. But as these magic heat/cool airconditioners became more and more common, our bodies just wouldn't cooperate with the "con." Having a fan blowing the hot air in the summer just made the house like a giant convection oven. And in the winter I went around in half my sweater wardrobe and multiple socks each day.

Finally, after muttering for years that "we must get an airconditioner," I assigned the job of choosing a technician to my savvy son-in-law. We ended up hiring a young man who had been a student of mine. I wasn't all that happy about having a former student see the mess my bedroom is, but I was tired of needing to sleep with a hot water bottle, dressed heavy pajamas, socks and gloves most winter nights. And one of the reasons why our room stays a mess is that it is too cold to enter to clean. It was more like a giant walk-in freezer, and it's impossible to straighten up wearing heavy thermal gloves made for arctic winters.

For years I'd been saying that I only function a few weeks a year, spring and fall, since it's generally either too hot or too cold.

Well, my student was happy for the business and sent a couple of young neighbors, his cheerful technicians, to do the job. I had tutored one of them a number of years ago, too.

My husband was home that day and had the chore of clearing out things from our room and the living room near where the airconditioners would be. I still have lots of things to put back in place. Though I'm mulling over the idea of actually getting rid of many... Yes, I know that the trick to a clean and orderly house is to "purge" or "declutter" unneeded THINGS. The big problem is the definition of "unneeded."

The mess and the big decision of what can really be thrown out must wait until after Shabbat...

And of course you want to know how much better we feel now that there are airconditioners here in the house to keep us warm. I think for that answer, we'll have to wait until next winter, since Israel is now experiencing an "early spring." That's no surprise, since Ol' Murphy rules...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trick to Speed Up Perked Coffee

As many of you probably know, I've been making my morning coffee in a French Press of late. I have a stock of American coffee, which brews great in it. The French Press doesn't give you a really hot cup of coffee, which doesn't bother me all that much, since I don't drink or eat anything super hot. But I really think, there should be thermal or even electric French Presses to provide nice hot coffee, especially for those of us who make a double or triple batch to get our inner motors functioning in the morning.

My old fashioned classic stove top percolator makes a really steamy cup/mug of coffee and can even be covered to keep hot or just leave it on the stove over a low maintenance heat. But the downside for me now is that I'm using an old electric hotplate type of stove which takes ages to heat up and bring the water to a boil.

So, today I decided to try a trick. I turned on the stove and also boiled up water in my electric kettle. While it was boiling, I put the body of the percolator on the stove with a bit of water. In the meantime I put the Turkish Coffee into the percolator, so it would be ready to quickly be assembled. Once I had boiling water,  I poured it into the percolator, assembled all the parts and left it to perk. When the absolutely delicious and invigorating coffee aroma reached the den, I returned to the kitchen and poured myself some coffee. Then I left what remained for mug-full #2  on the stove to keep warm. Electric stoves stay hot for quite a while.

I sure enjoyed my coffee this morning.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Eeks, Just Over a Month Left to Get the Freezer Chametz-Free

Here's my freezer. I have to finish all that chametz in just over a month. It seems like an impossible task. On the bottom there are bags of challah I made just last week.

In a week it's already Adar, then two weeks later, it's Purim, and a month after that it's Pesach, Passover. I kept pretending to myself that there was a n "extra Adar" like in some years. This year isn't one of those. 

Some people keep gorgeous immaculate homes. I'm not one of those. Even "cleaned for Pesach," my house doesn't get close to the pristine beauty those other houses radiate all year long.

But, thank Gd, we all know that dirt isn't chametz!!!  Still that's no excuse not to clean well at least once a year.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What a Difference a Week Makes

When I walked out after my "senior citizens" fun activities in the shelter nearby I noticed that the almond tree had lots more flowers than last week. 

As you can see, the tree still isn't full, but no other nearby tree can compete. This is the earliest blooming almond tree in the neighborhood. Generally there are almond blossoms in the middle of the Jewish Month of Shvat which was last week.  And last week it took a lot of imagination to imagine a flower-filled shekaidiah, almond tree. Nearby trees don't even seem as full as this one was last week.  I'll keep you posted.

When we lived in Bayit Vegan, there was a big old almond tree right next to our building. We could see it from our apartment. Every year the preschools would come and gather underneath to sing:
השקדיה פורחת
Hashkediya Porachat
The Almond Tree is Blooming

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What if....

Whenever I walk through Jerusalem's Old City to the Kotel, Western Wall, my eyes are drawn to this "sports field," of sorts.

I wonder when it was set up. If we had made the decision to live in the Old City, where we started our life in Israel, would our kids have been able to play there?

We made aliyah in 1970. Our boat docked on September 5th of that year. We lived in the Maon Betar on the corner of Rechov Hayehudim and Rechov Plugat Hakotel. Now the building is being used by "Netiv Aryeh."

There was no "Rova Yehudi," Jewish Quarter then. There were a few, barely a handful of Jewish institutions, primarily Yeshivat Hakotel, Nachal Moriah and the Betar House when we moved in. There were also just a couple of dozen, at most, Jewish families living there.

In the Moriah Book and Judaica Store, which was the first to open in the Old City after its liberation in 1967.

There were no proper sidewalks, as the paths were being dug up to make way for modern infrastructure. Even though we were interested in staying, the logistics of bringing up a young family there were just too daunting for us. Remember that we were a very young, inexperienced couple with no family and few friends at the time. And in all honesty, there weren't yet many (if any) easy to purchase housing options there.

So, we bought an apartment in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood. And that's where we moved when our eldest was born that following summer. We literally went straight from the maternity ward to our apartment, even a day after the hospital had wanted to release us. I told them that I had no place, yet, to go and needed just one more day.

Every decision, large or small, creates a different reality.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sweet Sugarless Dessert

This is the dessert, all the ingredients, just what you see here. Since we weren't too many for dinner I used:

  • 4 small apples
  • 1/2 medium orange

slices of apple, slices of orange and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon 
I didn't even add any water. I just covered the Corningware pan, which can be baked or on the stove top, and put it in the oven. I knew that the juices from the fruit would provide concentrated sweet liquid. If I had been making on the stove top, I'd need to add a bit of water, barely enough to cover.

When it began smelling "good," I took it out of the oven, put it on a heat-safe surface and covered it to finish the cooking process without burning.

It was absolutely delicious, as sweet as can be.

Friday, February 17, 2017

More Coffee Mugs #morningcoffeehaiku

family Chanuka gift for females, preteens and older
I've been drinking from different coffee mugs of late. It may be hard to believe, but the coffee does have a different taste depending on the mug. Each mug also has different meaning and memories for me.

And of course I'm still writing and posting my daily #morningcoffeehaiku. If you're on facebook, you can see them on your own.

Sunrise and coffee
I love to savor them both.
Fantastic day, y'all

Shiloh anniversary gift

Shiloh anniversary gift

Powerful sunrise
Super giant coffee mug
It's Friday morning
I bought this in New York, maybe for soup...

It's raining again
rain or shine, coffee's perfect
makes waking up great

Giant coffee mug
rescued from depths of closet
on a rainy day

Coffee always good
From all angles up and down
While watching sunrise

I bought this in New York, maybe for soup...

I need coffee now!
Got up too early today
and now it's raining

Super powerful winter sunrise shining through wet window

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Powerful Apology

Add this to the many stories in my, and others', tremping sagas. Yes, this is how we survive, get around without a car, even when having to travel routes not served by public transportation.

Rainy day. Remember that even when it looks the stormiest,
the sun is actually shining, just hidden by the clouds, thunder
and lightening. 
Thank Gd this week it has been raining. Here in the HolyLand, rain in the winter is a blessing, meaning that a day like the one pictured here is a beautiful day in Shvat/February. Without rain, the land will revert to desert. Desalination is not a full substitute for rain.

Granted rain can be even more daunting than simple discomfort or inconvenience, especially when you don't have the use of a car and are dependent on siyata d'Shmaya and the goodness of others.

Yesterday, when I finished work in Kochav Hashachar I had a ride in my direction from some other teachers who make a point of helping me out. The only way I was able to accept my job in Yeshiva High School Ahavat Chaim was because the staff offers rides, and there are enough who live nearby or pass Shiloh. Without that, the twenty minute ride through Shvut Rachel to the Alon Road would be a minimum hour with totally miraculous bus connections at Sha'ar Binyamin.

Frequently the teachers bring me either home or by the local supermarket, but yesterday when the engine was started it was discovered that the gas tank was almost empty. It was obvious that we were at risk of getting stuck on the way to the closest gas station between Shiloh and Eli, so I knew that they would just drop me off at the junction of Shiloh and Shvut Rachel. As close as it is to home, it's sometimes the most ignored by drivers. But I answered "perfectly understood," when they apologized for having to leave me there.

As I got out of the car, another pulled up immediately. I didn't recognize the driver, but she said that she's going "up the hill" in Shiloh and named a family that lives right near me. All I could think of was that the apology I had received from my fellow teachers was powerful enough for Gd to arrange this ride on that chilly, rainy evening.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Brought "Coney Island" Quiches for Pot Luck Dinner

Some friends and I decided to get together for an impromptu "potluck" dinner the other night in Jerusalem. I wanted to contribute, even though I couldn't bring anything from home. So I decided to call the Coney Island Bakery on Jaffa Road and order a quiche. Since I couldn't decide between the irresistible sounding spinach and dried tomato ones, I ended up with both. Since they were baked to order, I had them hold the cheese, because I had remembered that some of my friends have been avoiding dairy.

When I got to the bakery, it took all of my self-control to resist buying some of their beautifully decorated baked goods. These, too, can be baked and decorated to order.

Actually, they do catering and also have a meat kitchen at a different location. Call them at 029400008 for more information and orders. They deliver, too.

You must be wondering how the quiches were, since I ordered without having tasted them. They were delicious, and as you can see from the pictures above, we all started serving ourselves before I managed to take my camera out and shoot.

Spinach and Dried Tomato Quiches from Coney Island, plus one of their "signature" knishes. The coleslaw is from a friend's kitchen. 
I'm glad I decided to order the quiches. Everyone loved them and the knish, too.

Pepper Mushroom Omelet

Most every vegetable can be added to an omelet. In this omelet, I had:
  • onion
  • orange pepper
  • garlic
  • ginger

As usual I sauteed the vegetables with some oil in a covered frying pan, and when they were almost fully cooked I added my eggs. And when the eggs were almost hard, I turned off the flame. That way they finish on their own "steam." Yes, literally.

Add your usual/favorite seasonings and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Do You Eat "Artichoke?" Here's a "How To" Guide

The artichoke is a vegetable that looks like a flower or the top of asparagus. 

It's one of those foods I had never even heard of, and certainly didn't eat, until we had been in Israel for awhile. Our family loves them and looks forward to having one as a first course at our Shabbat Lunch.

Each artichoke is a portion.

Before cooking, soak the artichokes in salt water to make sure they are clean of bugs. And rinse very well. Then put them in a large pot with lots of water and cook until the "petals" come off easily. We eat artichokes cold or room temperature.

There's a special technique to eating artichokes. Most people like to eat them with dips of some sort, whether techina, olive oil, mayonnaise, freshly squeezed lemon or anything similar you like.

  • Pull off a "petal," check that it's clean, and even wipe on a napkin. 
  • Dip the fleshy end, which had been attached to the plant, into your "dip," and pull off the flesh and dip with your teeth. It's easier than it sounds.
  • After eating most of the petals, you will get to a sort of "bowl," which is known as the "heart." 
  • Pull out the hairy stuff filling it. 
  • Add some "dip," and enjoy!
  • Artichoke hearts can be found in many freezer sections and is considered a delicacy. People stuff them with chopped meat or rice and then cook.
Enjoy, they are worth the challenge.

How to eat Artichokes!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Painting on Silk, Another New Hobby!

Being old is such great fun. I've been getting to learn new things in the Shiloh 60+ club, like crafts I've only dreamt of or not even realized they could be done by mere mortals like myself. Yesterday, for the very first time in my life I painted on silk and I'm in love with that art medium!

As usual, I had no idea what I was doing. There was also an option to take a printed piece of silk and fill it in with the colors of your choice. A couple of the women were working on those and producing extremely professional looking pieces to either be hung on the wall or finished off as Challah Covers.

The rest of us were more interested in discovering the surprising dynamics of the medium and the various abstract effects we could generate by giving the silk, paint and salt a chance to do their magic. We were also happy with the unexpected lines produced by the "crinkled" plastic underneath the silk.

I plan on wearing the long silk piece, Gd willing. And next time we do this craft, I want to write "שבת שלום" or "המוציא לחם" on the square one to use on Shabbat or Jewish Holidays. The challenge will be finishing them off, the hemming, and lining for the Challah Cover.

I dream of doing this as a "retirement business" and selling unique, one of a kind Silk Challah Covers and pillow cases. Of course it depends on how complicated all of the rest of the production really is. I understand that after they dry they must be "steam-set" or something like that, and then there are the hemming and lining for decorative pillow cases, Challah Covers or wall hangings. I doubt if there's all that much a market nowadays for scarves to wear.  Of course, dreaming and doing are two different things...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rain! Winter's Back

Shabbat was such a spring-like day. On Friday when I took a walk I even spied an almond tree in bloom. The middle of the Jewish Month of Shvat, now, is when almond trees are supposed to flower, so we just made it.

These are actually two photos combined. See my Instagram page, shilohbatya
We'd been enjoying the break from winter weather and knew to expect winter's return this week. According to the forecast for Shiloh, the entire week will be rainy. 

It's winter, 
and we need rain, 
so can't complain.
But can still kvetch...

Just before the rain fell this morning

There was enough light from the dawn to make the returning raindrops look like diamonds on leaves and the chair.

Our merpeset, terrace, gets the extremes from all weather, since it's on the southern side of the house. The twenty 20 meters of clotheslines are fantastic for quickly and easily drying multiple loads of wash. When it snows, this is the side of the house that gets the most, though it is also the first to melt.

I have so many things planned for this week, which I hope to accomplish while sneaking past the raindrops. I may arm/protect myself by wearing my father's heavy Land's End winter coat, which we left here when moving him to Arizona.

Looking outside, through south-facing windows, it looks absolutely stormy.

shot with a flash

shot without the flash, plus a drop of "tint" editing
It's the Jewish Month of Shvat when the last of the heavy rains are supposed to fall in the Holy Land. May it be for a blessing, Gd willing.