Monday, June 29, 2009

End of school dinner at Noah's Ark

Back in the Old Country, we had a yearly tradition of taking the kids out to Noah's Ark for dinner to celebrate the end of the school year. As a teacher, I was probably celebrating even more than they did. So with the last day of school about to rear its ugly head (see the change in attitude now that I am not a classroom teacher?), we couldn't quite make it to Teaneck, so we did the next best thing: Noah's Ark style dinner at home. Although there were no barrel pickles in metal bowls, to Shana's great sorrow, and no cole slaw waiting to fill us up as we waited for our Early Bird Specials, we enjoyed nonetheless. We had Chicken Francese, yellow rice, and steamed vegetables with garlic and lemon. Just what the kids would have ordered - David did miss his ribs and steak fries, but even he was happy.

Forgot to mention that on Friday, David took Dani, as well as Yosef and Binyamin Wallin, to bring ices and cold soda to the chayalim before Shabbat. We are part of the yishuv rotation to bring coffee and nosh to the machsomim every night, but this was the first time we had a Friday - an addition which was added to the schedule only recently. It was actually our second turn this month; the summer months find many of the regulars out of town, and some of those of us who are manning the homefront double up on turns. The chayalim are always so grateful and gracious. It makes me feel like I am building up goodwill on high for when Dani is in the army. It makes the mind wobble to see how young some of these guys are, young men and women who are protecting us 24/7.

Yesterday we had the nicest surprise visit from David's cousin's Malkie and Dave, who are here on business. They were staying in Tel Aviv and came on down to see us. We have not seen them in a couple of years, so it was great to catch up on their family and what all the kids and grandkids are up to. I think they got a kick out of being in the shtachim and seeing the neighboring Arab villages, not to mention the separation fence. They also seemed to like the neighborhood - they were not accustomed to seeing houses, rather than apartments, and lots of greenery and landscaping.

And now I am going to batten down the hatches for the very last day of school, and do a little baking prep. Have a good day/night!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oven Woes

Getting ready for Shabbat this week was no piece of cake. On Thursday afternoon, as my last tray of cookies was in the oven, I noticed that they were not browning as quickly as they should have been. In fact, they were barely baked. Lo and behold, the oven had ceased to perform. The burners were fine, and the broiler worked too, so it's not the gas line, but the oven was a no go. Luckily, we have second oven in the basement, so I was able to do all the cooking I needed to down there, but what a pain! After I lit candles Friday night and sat down on the couch, I noticed that my legs were feeling odd. Then it hit me - maybe it has something to do with the 25+ unaccustomed trips up and down the steps between Thursday night and Friday. But not to worry - service has been called.

Otherwise, things are somewhat quiet here. The population has thinned out in the neighborhood and will continue to do so as the American exodus continues. Our friend's son had his aufruf this Shabbat and will be getting married later in the week. The new arrivals to the yishuv will start this week, but only a handful of families are slated to move here this summer. A bunch are coming for a year and others are moving in from other cities in Israel, so we are light on the real new olim thing. Still, we know some of the newbies and it will be nice to welcome them. Lots of other people are travelling, too. A couple of friends were in the old country for a week for various simchas, so it was nice to have them back. Our brother- and sister-in-law are in London for some family smachot, very last minute thing. David's parents are in the States - enjoying a trip to the Canadian Rockies and now visiting family in NY. They have sent some updates and photos - it looks gorgeous there! - and sound to be having fun. They are big travelers, having gone a bunch of places in the last several years, both in Europe and the US. Maybe someday we will travel a bit, but for now, we are content to be holding down the fort for everyone who has skipped town. Also, have not yet won mega-lottery.

So now it is Motzaei Shabbat, and I am finally sitting down to type. This week was kind of long. Shana was sick with some kind of fever, sore throat kind of thing early in the week (not swine flu, thanks for asking), and Ayelet was sick with a stomach virus later in the week. Good thing there's no school! Dani has been working very hard in school, if swimming lessons on three days out of the week and a tiyul on the fourth (cut short because of the excessive heat, but he got to come home, not have classes, G-d forbid) counts as working hard. Tomorrow he has a party first thing in the morning, so the trend continues. Lola has a tooth that is dying to fall out; well, more correctly, we are dying for it to fall out (top front tooth), and she refuses to allow anyone to pull/knock it out.

Shabbat was pretty quiet. Our friend Rob joined us for dinner, but lunch was quick and to the point. While the weather lately has been beastly hot, by the late afternoon it was beautiful and breezy and we were able to have seuda shlishit outside. Wish you all could have enjoyed the sunset over the mountains like we did - a really magnificent view. We felt very blessed at that moment.

For those who did not have enough to eat the Shabbat, here are this week's cookies.
The flavors are as follows: ginger white chocolate blondies, lemon drop sandwiches, Mexican brownies, orange chocolate chipsters, and double decker brownie bars.
These are the ginger white chocolate blondies - spicy, molasses-y, with lots of white chocolate chips and more white chocolate drizzle on top.
Lemon drop sandwiches - lemon flavored cookies, filled with lemon curd, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Lemon curd is one of my most favorite foods in the world, and I love making it, so it's a win-win. Ayelet and I enjoy when there is leftover from the recipe. My joke on her this week- I finished what little was left without her! I know, mean mommy, but she was not really up for eating, so why waste it!
Mexican brownies - no, these are not hot and spicy. These have lots of vanilla and cinnamon in the batter, like Mexican chocolate, and are topped with a coffee glaze. My kids fought over the few left after all the orders were filled.
These orange chocolate chipsters had really great flavor - lots of orange zest, and a few subtle spices to rachet up the citrusy flavors. They spread more than I like, so I may work on that, but the texture and flavors were really nice.
Finally, double decker brownies bars. Rich fudge brownies on the bottom, chocolate chip cookie on top, with more chocolate just in case that was not enough for ya! Really decadent and delicious, especially for the indecisive.

That's all folks. Will try to come up with something more interesting for the next post. Dvora

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time keeps on slippin...

It's already Tuesday, the week is in full swing, and last Shabbat's cookies have not yet been posted. Amazing how the time just gets away from you (is that a too frequent refrain in my life?). I have spent some time this week setting up a facebook page for Dvora's Cookie Creations, so check it out when you get a chance - become a fan, if you feel like it! Uploading the pictures and stuff took a while, but I look forward to positive results from it.
Since my last post, Shana and Ayelet came home from their tiyul exactly as expected, and both girls fell fast asleep on the couches after candle lighting Friday night. They woke up long enough to have dinner, and then slept very soundly until woken up at 9:30 Shabbat morning. Dani's friend Amit was with us for Shabbat. We had a chance to practice our Hebrew (though he has a very nice English, and OUTSTANDING comprehension), and he entertained us thoroughly. Lunch with the Davises and Saltzmans was fun even though I am annoyed that they are abandoning us to the hot Israeli summer. We managed to rest and then to go to Dani's class seuda shlishit. It was a nice program, run by his Morah Michal, about whom I can not say enough nice things. We are fortunate that Dani has such a talented and insightful mechanechet (not mechaneches, for those who understand the distinction!).

On Sunday, David went with Dani to Kraft in Yerushalayim for the end of the flag football season. It was supposed to be championship games between the teams, but didn't quite work out that way. We are definitely not sending him to this chug again next year - at least he had a decent time.

Monday was Ariella's mesibat siyum for gymnastics. Also a balagan - too many grades together in one small space. I am proud that she was willing to participate, as many of the kids her age didn't come, or just chickened out. She had enough about halfway through, so we left. But she looked cute!So on to the cookies:
Once again, I forgot to photograph a platter until they were all wrapped. This is a 24 piece platter, with banana chocolate chip bars, chai spice sugar cookies, honey pecan squares, whoopie pies, and oatmeal brownies. And here is one wrapped for gifting:
Here are the individual flavors:
Banana chocolate chip bars - soft bars flavored with banana, filled with chocolate chips, topped with chocolate frosting.Chai spice sugar cookies - soft sugar cookies, flavored with Indian spices like cardamom and ginger, both in the cookie and in the rolling sugar.
Honey pecan squares - brown sugar shortbread crust, topped with lots of pecans and a honey sweetened filling. Yummy! (sorry Dani)
Whoopie pies! Soft chocolate cookies, vanilla filling, like an Oreo Cakester!

Oatmeal brownies - fudge brownies, with an oatmeal crust on the bottom and more oatmeal on top. They were good, but I didn't love them, since they were not what I had envisioned. I guess it's back to the drawing board - I will let you know when I have real success with this one.
Finally, Monday was my last boys' chug. To celebrate, I made a book shaped cake. To be honest, I made it as kind of a throwaway: my easiest yellow cake recipe, that truly, I would not use on customers because it's fine, but not outstanding, and a quick decorating job - not glass smooth, not professional quality, but fine for 11 and 12 year old boys. And they seemed to enjoy it, so that was all good. Now I know that I would like a book shaped pan rather than carving, or at least have a deeper base to start with. For someone's upsherin or graduation or something, I guess.
And that's all folks - back to the kitchen for me!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The party's over

Yes, it has arrived: that bittersweet time of the year when school ends. In truth, only Shana and Ayelet are done with classes; Dani and Ariella continue on to the 30th. Then we get one free day and camp starts, so all in all, survivable. Yesterday the older girls went on their overnight with school, leaving things kind of quiet here. Of course, it took the girls a good 24 hours to pack up their food, clothing, and gear for a 20 hour tiyul, but we don't need to reflect on the irony. They will be back in a few hours, having had fun, but dirty, tired, possibly bitten up by mosquitoes, and probably very, very pleasant. On the plus side, I did not have to worry about their report cards - both girls did phenomenally well, and we are really proud of them. Ayelet called immediately after school to report in, sounding very pleased with herself. When a similar call from Shana did not happen, we got a little nervous. But when I called her, she said of course she got her report card, and of course she did well. So why didn't she call? She just didn't think of it. I guess she is all grown up - didn't need to announce her success, just knew for herself that she had done well.
Busy getting ready for Shabbat - assembling the cookie platters usually comes first on Friday, but I feel a little lost without my assistant Shana. This week's flavors: banana chocolate chip bars, chai spice sugar cookies, fudgy oatmeal brownies, honey pecan squares, and whoopie pies (that one's for you, Josh Saltzman!) Dani has a Shabbat kitah, which means the boys are paired off and are meant to eat one meal at each boy's home. But Dani's partner's parents are away for Shabbat, so they will be here for dinner and lunch, as well as a sleepover, and then we (they boys and the parents) have seuda shlishit together. In addition, we are having a lot of lunch company - Arica and Josh, and Sara and Akiva and their families. They are all abandoning us this week - wait, Arica, when are you leaving? - so it will be nice to spend some time before the exodus.
I am off to my cooking and cleaning, so I will take this opportunity to wish one and all a Shabbat Shalom. Cookie details and pix after Shabbat (b'li neder)!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's been such a long time

It has been a long time since the last time I was able to sit down and type with my entire brain engaged - I mean, here is it Tuesday already and I have not posted the photos from last Shabbat's cookies. It has been very hot, and it just saps all the will to accomplish right out from under you. These pix are not the greatest, but since I am under the general yet sometimes mistaken impression that something is better than nothing, here goes (or here goes nothing).
First is this week's platter - a 24 piece version. I forgot to take any pictures until after the platters were all wrapped and pick-up had commenced, so this was the best I got.The first flavor on the left is Orange cranberry white chocolate cookies - like a creamsicle with craisins. Next is tuxedo brownies - fudgy brownies with white and dark chips.
The center section is hermit bars - mandelbread shaped, spicy with molasses, ginger, and raisins, glazed with a brown sugar drizzle.
After that is chocolate cinnamon squares (or cinnamon squares, depending how I bill them). Cinnamon flavored cakey bar, coffee-chocolate-cinnamon swirl in the middle, chocolate frosting on top.Last but not least, Sacher torte sandwiches. Chocolate cookie, apricot preserves, chocolate drizzle. As a little bonus, this is the tray of banana cake and cinnamon chocolate loaf I made for Ariella's mesibat siyum. Every parent had to supply something - cake, drinks, snacks, paper goods, whatever. I was a little mean and made intentionally homely items. Some got eaten but the tray was not flashy enough to be a big draw, so there was a lot left, which meant we had something to eat for dessert on Shabbat! I love it when a plan comes together...
And it's already time to get moving on the next week's activities. Baking prep must start tonight, and other household chores await too. Tomorrow is Shana and Ayelet's last real day of school, then Thursday they go in at noon to collect teudot (report cards), and then off to an overnight. Not a bad way to end the year. I just wonder about the girls who don't want to show their parents their marks - can they just say it fell in the water and so much for that, better luck next year?
And just to make sure that no learning takes place tomorrow, the kids will be partying. Ayelet and her friend Ariella are baking a cake now to bring with them (I know, egads, in America you could never bring homemade!) and they are using a Duncan Hines mix. Clearly I have gone wrong somewhere in my parenting!
Oh well. Here's to being more productive than last week...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Looking forward to the menucha

This week was not the most productive, yet I seem to be exhausted by it! Shabbat is a welcome visitor...
Last night was Ariella's mesibat siyum from gan chova. It was really very sweet and we were so proud of our little graduate, who of course has two more weeks of gan left afterward. The party was scheduled early to accomodate the families who are starting the annual mass exodus very early this year. Personally, I look forward to the quiet that the summer brings, though not the extreme heat. But enough tangent. Ariella did a very good job of singing all the songs, dancing and doing hand motions. I was sitting next to Nicky, whose son Kovy has been in gan with Lola for the last three years and was also enthusiastically performing. We were both a little worked up thinking about how far they have both come - at their three year nursery Chanuka party, neither Ariella nor Kovy were exactly lively participants, and now here they are ready for first grade! Speaking of which, the graduates spent the day visiting the mamad today, seeing what kitah alef will be like. Ariella was excited, but had some reservations at first. "Imma," she said,"Did you know that in kitah alef you have to sit in the same seat all day long? How boring!" But she was clearly over that by the end of the day (euphemism for 11:45 Friday dismissal), when she thoroughly enjoyed classwork in reading, writing, math, and parashat hashavua. Also, getting an ice pop at the end was clear incentive.
Finishing up baking for this Shabbat took a while - the lack of productivity I mentioned. I will try to post photos after Shabbat, as there is no time now even for the typing I am doing. This week's flavors were Sacher torte sandwiches, cranberry orange white chocolate cookies, hermit sticks, tuxedo brownies, and chocolate cinnamon squares, a new flavor. I will have to monkey around with them a bit, since I did not love them, but David and the kids did, so who am I to argue?!
Looking forward to a quiet Shabbat - just going to a seuda shlishit for a bat mitzvah, but otherwise hoping for lots of rest.
Shabbat Shalom,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Long day

I think I generally mean it when I say it's nice to be busy with smachot, and it is, but boy was this day long. And here I am typing away instead of sleeping - I will definitely regret that in the morning!! Anyway, this day started out with some fun laundry (just what you all wanted to know about, right?) and a trip to the Ramster, i.e. Rami Levy. Despite having been there once already this week, we still managed to pull off another big shopping. Thank goodness David was there to push the wagon which has four (?!) rotating wheels, as opposed to two stationary and two swiveling as in the US. Then it was on to cake decorating and delivering. I had tutoring and getting ready for the wedding. Finally, we left for the wedding of a close friend of David's family. It was really a beautiful wedding (yay - two in a row!) and everyone's simcha was really palpable. The chattan and kallah looked so happy at the chuppah, which BTW was very cool. The aisle was elevated like a catwalk, and the chuppah was simple but had fabric covered columns that were lit up with colored lights. A little Project Runway for a Yerushalayim wedding. The kallah's rabbi spoke beautifully under the chuppah, which is usually not something I am in to, but it was very touching - about sasson and simcha, the difference between them, and what the couple were experiencing as opposed to their families and guests. Mazal tov to everyone!

Anyway, here's what I spent oh so many hours on. This was a sefer torah cake for a bar mitzvah from Reut (a town next to Modiin). First I sandwiched the two layers of chocolate cake with buttercream. Then I rolled the cocoa roll to form the scrolls and covered the whole thing in buttercream. Not too exciting, right? Kind of looks like the bottom of a chair!
I also molded chocolate tefillin - a pair and a spare, as they sometimes do not come out perfect, and besides, they are much more affordable than the real thing.Then I started on the decoration - the mother of the bar mitzvah wanted medium blue for all the decoration, so who am I to argue. I started with the tefillin off center

but then moved them to the middle - I just preferred it that way.Then I added the straps in chocolate icing. Chocolate fondant would have been nice also, but the weather was so hot and even somewhat humid - not the norm for here - that I was afraid of wilting.Finally some chocolate rolled wafers and a couple of chocolate swirls and we were good to go.

Finally, I had to pack it for transport. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find cake boxes in this country that fit a cake larger than 10" round. Even when I was in the States, the stores were all sold out of the size that works for this size cake, though I did find a few for 9x13" cakes. So David, the king of improvisation (he really is, who would think) took a supermarket fruit crate and made the perfect carrying case.Finally, I cranked up the a/c in the car, tossed it in and drove to the hall. All in all, it was a nice cake, though not my favorite. I would go with slightly more subtle design and coloration, but this was based on a cake I did for Ariella's gan, and the client really wanted something similar. Also, I had a bunch of problems, I believe weather related, that I will not even recount here, but it made the whole thing a challenge. I hope the baalei simcha are happy with it - I delivered directly to the hall, and I was a little nervous about the fact that their air conditioning was not on yet. But the manager promised to turn it on shortly, and I took photos to document the safe arrival. But I can't dwell on it, because there is always more to do. Now on to baking for Shabbat and for Ariella's mesibat siyum. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Siman tov u'mazal tov

David and I just returned from the first wedding of the week - the daughter of friends of ours from the yishuv. The wedding was beautiful and the couple were absolutely adorable. Wishing lots of nachat to everyone. I enjoyed a rager of a headache from pretty much the first minute we arrived, but thanks to a couple of Tylenol and rum and diet coke, I was able to make it through without passing out or throwing up. TMI, perhaps? In any case, I sat at a great table full of friends and was happy to be there to celebrate. One of my former students, Ahuva, was here for the wedding as a friend of the kallah, both from high school and seminary. It was great to see her, though I must admit that it definitely ages me. Tomorrow is another wedding, of a family friend, and Thursday is Ariella's mesibat siyum. B"H for smachot, though it can be exhausting. Better this than the alternative.

Today was mostly spent baking and frosting a bar mitzvah cake, which gets delivered to the customer tomorrow. It is a sefer torah with tefillin sitting on top. The last time I made a sefer torah I swore that I would never attempt it again, and this time I just swore. It is very difficult to get super-smooth icing on a cake that is shaped like this. That just offends the compulsive perfectionist part of me. Also, the roll cake parts that form the scrolls are a big pain because their composition makes them slippery, preventing the buttercream from "wanting" to stick to the cake. But I hope it comes out well, and makes the baalei simcha very happy. Tomorrow is decoration morning, so I will post b"h soon.

For those who asked: Shana's bagrut is over, and she thinks it went well. Now is a lot of waiting. A matkonet, which I mentioned previously, is a test giving by the high school to check skills and prepare students for the test. Two are given shortly before a bagrut, and their grades are worked in with the year's performance to create a grade for the whole year. Then the year grade is balanced with the bagrut grade to give kids a fair shot in case they have a bad day for the bagrut. At least that is what my little olah chadasha brain understands...

And that's all folks - and yes, I am going to sleep, so never worry, never fear. G'night

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shavua tov

We had a really nice Shabbat with Shanie and her friends Avigayil, Sharona, and Chaya. They are all lovely girls who were so helpful and sweet! I am so glad that Shanie had a great year and although we will miss her, I can see that she is on to bigger and better things. Okay, what really could be better than learning Torah in Israel or even just being here, but big stuff nonetheless. Dani starts swimming lessons in school and has a couple of baseball games to finish up the season, Shana is ready (as ready as can be) for her bagrut tomorrow, and we are all looking forward to another Sunday in Israel, which is, of course, exactly the same as Monday through Thursday.
I actually made to shul this morning, but when I entered, I was hit with a blast of hot, muggy air. The a/c had stopped working. My first thought was "Maybe I should go home," which was immediately followed by "David is going to be such an unhappy camper." This is the second Shabbat in a row in which the a/c had turned on but had chosen to blow warm air. Fortunately, by about 10 the problem had resolved and the a/c came back on line with actual cold air. But it didn't solve the aggravation David experienced from all the people who thought that perhaps the gabbaim didn't think the air needed to be on this weekend, or perhaps that they did not notice the extreme warmth and needed it pointed out to them repeatedly during davening and laining. I am really proud of the job David and the other gabbaim are doing; I just wish it didn't always have to take so much out of them. In any case, except for a vanished Barbie shoe from one of the dolls Ariella ("Don't call me Lola!") brought to group that could not be found despite my best efforts at retracing our steps, shul was nice, the bar mitzvah boy did a beautiful job, and I can say I was there.
As follow-up to Friday's post, here are a couple of bad photos to finish up this week's cookie baking:

Chocolate raspberry truffle brownies - rich fudge brownies, with the hint of fruit giving it a nice sweet accent.

This is the last lonely cherry oatmeal crumble bar. By the time I managed to take a photo of it after Shabbat, it was the only one left. And I thought I had made so many! They are homey, oatmeal based bars, with a hint of almond and sweet cherry preserves. They even once got a shout-out from my brother-in-law Aaron on his blog. Sorry about the no leftovers!

Finally, this is this week's variety, as seen on a 36 piece platter, before wrapping (and gift wrapping). Thin mint sandwiches are on the left, followed by the chocolate raspberry, cherry oatmeal, chocolate crinkles, a repeat on the bars, and then the ginger crinkles all the way on the right. Hope everyone enjoyed.

This will be a busy week - we have coffee for the chayalim, two weddings, a mesibat siyum at gan, a visit to kitah alef for Ariella (can't believe we are already up to that!), a bat mitzvah on Shabbat, and who knows what else will pop up. Wishing you all a great week!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

This week has been a hectic one - aren't they all? Last night was the zimriya at the elementary school here, where Dani attends. Amazingly, it was called for eight and intended to last about an hour - and we were actually done by nine!! It was fun, with a really nice atmosphere - the kids performing, and lots of parental singing along. I loved how many of the songs Ariella knew, including Hatikva, and even I knew the words for many of them.

Today we got ready for Shabbat, though Shana had to go to school for a test that took her all of four minutes, and Dani had a baseball game that his team lost 4-3. Reflecting on the year's record, that was a darned good score. Shanie is here with three friends (Avigayil who was here on Pesach and whom we really enjoyed having here, and Sharona and Chaya, all from Darchei Bina), and she is leaving on Wednesday. I can not believe the year is over already! We really loved having her here, and are going to miss her a lot.

I actually did make the cookies I thought I would, though an additional experiment for rolled cookies didn't come out as beautiful as I would need them to for selling purposes. I guess I should not have monkeyed around with the thickness after the first batch, which came out okay, but were gobbled down way too fast for a picture. But since the rejects taste delicious, the family is more than happy to hide the evidence. I will have to try them again soon, and try a couple of things differently.

First cookies this week are ginger crinkles, chewy and spicy and simple. It's one of those classics that just works.

Another classic - chocolate crinkle cookies. They are soft and cakey and rich, with chocolate chips accenting the texture.

And the last for today, the thin mint sandwich cookies. Chocolate cookies, chocolate mint ganache, dipped in chocolate - they're heavenly, scout's honor!

The other flavors for this week will have to wait to be photographed. Now it's time to finish up the Shabbat preparation and gulp down the food that we spent all that time cooking today. Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Yom Huledet Sameach to Ayelet!

Today is Ayelet's 13 birthday (on the Jewish calendar - the secular b-day already passed, but was on erev chag, not so conducive to celebration) - happy birthday, shorty! We have decided to celebrate officially on Shabbat, so I have a little time to make something really special for her cake. I have been playing around some more with fondant to see how I can make something a little more spectacular, so I guess now will be the real test. I will try to post pictures as the project progresses.

The country is now in a multi-day emergency drill. At 11 today, a siren will go off and we are all supposed to head to our safe rooms. The kids in the elementary school have been told that they will stay in the miklat for an hour! That is a lot of squishy together time. But in the current situation, best to be prepared and aware. It is always a revelation to realize that we live in a place where the world political climate impacts so acutely on our day-to-day life.

Today is the day I start to prep this week's baking. Pretty certain that this week will feature thin mint sandwiches, ginger crinkles, chocolate crinkles (guess I was feeling crinkly!), raspberry truffle brownies, and cherry oatmeal crumble bars. I like to balance shapes, colors, and flavors, and also to keep in mind individual tastes - customers who don't like chocolate, those who don't like fruit, special requests (like a certain young guest who was very disappointed that there were no ginger crinkles last Shabbat, leading me to realize that it has been a while for that particular flavor), and avoiding repetition. I now have 70 flavors on the menu, which is likely to increase thanks to my penchant for experimentation. I would love to get suggestions from other people for new flavors, as I always think it is a good idea to hear from people with their own preferences rather than just relying on myself and my particular favorites.

Since this post looks kind of naked with a picture, I thought I would include one here, apropos of nothing, just for fun. These are the much discussed on the internet Cake Bite Truffles. I had seen them so often that I figured I just had to try them! They came out looking great, and my in-house critics (my kids) LOVED them, not that they are that hard to please, though I do respect their opinions. I have added them to the menu, but will probably not be making them for Shabbat platters until the weather cools off, as chocolate does not travel so beautifully under the hot Israeli sun. Will just have to keep them for my own guests in the meantime!

Until next time, stay sweet (that could be my send-off, or maybe something a lot cooler)!
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