Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scattered thoughts

Just a few things on my mind:

1. Jerusalem Post columnist Liat Collins commented this week about the irony that the fact that only 242 rockets have been launched into Israel this year makes it a quiet year. I originally wrote that the rockets "have fallen into Israel," but thought that those words, too, made for some irony.

2. On Shabbat, Ariella saw that I was keeing the rest of the family and guests away from her. She said,"Right, Imma, brothers and sisters have to stay away from a sick person so they don't get sick too, but it's okay for Immas?" Well, it is okay in the sense that taking care of our sick kids is what we do, but clearly, I have no special mommy-strength immune system. David, on the other hand, spent a nice aount of time with Lola, as well (though because of the miracle of timing, missed out on cleaning up vomit and tushie), but has a constitution of steel. Lucky.

3. Recently read Julie Powell's Julie and Julia (yes, I know, I am a little late to the game) and really enjoyed it. She comments about how fortunate she was to have a "rabbit-hole," i.e. the Julie/Julia project, to fall into. I don't know if I am quoting correctly, and I don't know what I think about the real Julie Powell - I was happier not to have read anything else about her - but I fully identify with the feeling. I am so lucky to have found a business opportunity to do what I love, and to love something that I am actually really good at. I don't expect to make my fortune this way, but I will always feel fotunate. (Did you like what I did with the words there? I am feeling so clever today.)

4. I don't know why people don't read more food-related books. No one in my book club seems to be taken with the idea of reading Michael Ruhlman or Bill Buford. Guess it's just me, and my love of food. There, I admit it. I like food: cooking it, eating it, reading about it, reading about people cooking or eating it... I currently have something like 25 food-related blogs bookmarked on my computer. Too much?

End of true confessions and deep thoughts.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

G-d said Ha!

Shana turned 16 this week. I am officially really, really old. And, yeah, it really is all about me. To celebrate, a bunch of Shana's friends slept over for Shabbat, and it was a very nice one. We enjoyed the girls, and they all seem to have had a nice time. Unfortunately, Ariella graced us with another stomach virus, waking up Shabbat morning with the pronouncement, "Imma, I am barfing!" She spent the day in the bathroom and in bed, but we seemed to have kept her away from everyone. That is, everyone but me. I was the proud recipient of the handed-off virus, losing the entire Sunday to yuckiness. I had plans to work on my project, but that was just plain impossible. Man proposes, G-d disposes. I guess the work will continue tomorrow, in between making up for lost cleaning and laundry.

Shana's birthday cake was a miracle of speed - frosted and decorated in under 40 minutes. It is a little slapdash, and looked much better an hour after this picture was taken (such is the nature of fondant). Unfortunately, that was already Shabbat, so photography as an option, not so much.

But the bottom line, it was delicious - moist chocolate cake, mocha filling, buttercream frosting - and everything was spelled right. In all the rush, what did I fail to do? TAKE A PICTURE OF A SHABBAT PLATTER. See, Arica, I do need the post-it! It would go well with the 9 am book club reminder call that I require in order to not flake on the 9:30 meeting. Shana certainly gets her "ditza-ness" from somewhere.

This week is starting with a bang - had to blow off Ayelet's teacher conference because of my inability to leave my room, much less the house. Hope she did not have anything to critical to say! Have a great week, everyone.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

No soup for you!

It's been another weird, wacky week. I have been working on a dessert project for the bar mitzvah of the son of a friend, and though I can not show you until the party, it should be very cute. Unfortunately, I am not making the progress I need to. I am committing to getting this under control by the end of Motzaei Shabbat - and you can all hold me to it. I very sadly lost out on a job for this Shabbat, for a kiddush in Yerushalayim, because the shul in which it is being help requires hashgacha. For all of you chutznikim who think that sounds really basic and, well, sound, it needs to be mentioned that a great many shuls here allow members to bring in homemade goods. Similarly, no Green's mini-cupcakes for birthday parties here; you can bake you own and bring them to school! So I was a little distressed by the turn of events, but it has renewed my interest in getting a hechsher (which we had investigated before but deemed difficult and unnecessary). Do you think it would have helped if I told them my husband used to be a professional mashgiach?

On the plus side, I did get an order from someone else in the capital for a party. We are feeding people far and wide! Unfortunately, the platters have already been picked up and I - all together now - forgot to take a picture! I must remember to photograph the regular Shabbat platters... In case, the flavors are chocolate dipped chocolate chip, cranberry pecan bars, lemon glazed ginger crisps, linzer cookies, thin mint sandwiches, and tuxedo brownies. I also tried a new recipe, courtesy of Yocheved, for a chocolate caramel cookie bar, a lot like a Twix. It still needs some tweaking, so it is not going in the platters, but so yummy (though David did find it a little overly sweet, but that is just silly).

And this week's soup adventure - I made a faux Temani soup. That is the soup is faux, not the Temani. I took leftover chicken soup (from the soup I made Sunday; since we were away for Shabbat, we were still eager for chicken soup on Sunday. I was kind of hoping it would not taste as good without the "spice of Shabbat," but it was awesome. But I digress.) I took the leftover strained broth, added some water and a bit of fleishig chicken soup powder - note that the powder is indeed an ingredient in the original recipe given to me by a friend whose husband is Temani. Then I added in hawayij for soup, which is a Yemenite spice blend, and some cut up potato, carrot, celery, and onion. Zucchini would have been a good addition, but somehow we were completely out. After letting it simmer a while, I returned the leftover soup chicken, shredded up. I served it over a pile of rice, and it was so good and rich. As David said, "All we need now is the kubeh." Which we could buy frozen in the supermarket, because we live in God's country, and that's how we roll. Anyway, there is no soup for you, not because you are being punished or denied. There's just none left.

Next up, Shana's birthday cake and Shabbat sleepover. My oldest is turning 16. How did that happen?! When did that happen?!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eight Crazy Nights

I can see that you all have been looking for me, but I have been making myself scarce lately. It was not my intention, but time just keeps slipping away. Excuses, excuses, it's just revolting, I know. Chanuka was very nice, if uneventful. Once we recovered from the shul dinner, we headed to Yerushalayim for the Rotter annual Chanuka scavenger hunt and Chanuka party. After zooming around the neighborhood to find our clues, we finished up with ice cream cake and headed home for more fun. Aviva and Josh and family came out for a Chanuka dinner, and everyone had a good time. I even photographed the quiches I made (one "Italian" vegetable and one onion), because I was oddly and unreasonably pleased with how they came out. I think I now have more pictures of food than of my children.

Tuesday was a slow day - Ayelet spent the day in Yerushalayim with Carmi. After shopping and lunching with Ariel, they went with Savta and Tzivia to an interesting exhibit of clocks at the Islamic Museum. Shana worked on her giant term paper, Dani hung out with Pacey and babysat, and I took Ariella shopping for Shabbat clothes. We had time to make latkes for dinner, and I will happily say they came out great - definitely better than the ones I made for Shabbat. And look, Shana caught the ridiculous photography bug and snapped a picture of the beautiful potato pancakes.
Wednesday was our sojourn into the center of Yerushalayim. We tried to get to the Kotel, but found it impossible to get close enough in the drizzly weather. We headed into town instead, had falafel, and started walking toward the Shuk. After a few stops at various stores, we made it there and stocked up on sugary necessities. We returned to town, had Katzefet, topped it off with a latte (it was cool and damp out, so the frozen yogurt had to be topped off with hot coffee!), and headed home. Thursday was ceramics day, then baking and Shabbat prep. This week's platters included chocolate cream dreidel sandwiches, ginger crinkles, chocolate cherry brownies, black and white cookies, honey pecan squares, linzer stars, and fondant covered dreidel sugar cookies.Because you can't really see the detail on the dreidels in this shot, I am adding a close-up.
I hope you can see the imprints on the fondant a little more clearly here - they were so cute! And surprisingly, they were actually tasty, though I will openly admit that these are vanity cookies, and not on the platter because of their fabulous flavor profile.

On Friday we headed to Har Nof for a family Shabbaton. We brought cookies to celebrate the holiday. The little kids all made lots of noise and ran wild, but happily so. Just 25 hours later, the Festival of Lights was over, and so was vacation. Packing up backpacks was the order of the evening, and heading to sleep at a normal hour. So long, time off! Welcome back, order, schedules, and waking up too early...

And now, for a quick quiz, tell me why this platter looks so much better than the picture above...The other one had the yummy addition, but the visual image is way better here. Weird, right?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

O, Chanuka, O Chanuka, come light the menorah

Anyone remember the next line of that old chestnut? I'll give you a minute to think about it...

Yes, I have been negligent in posting for a while. My sincerest apologies. I hope to be back on track now.

The holiday week started out with a bang, or rather, a bar mitzvah. Yocheved and Jon's son Gidon celebrated his bar mitzvah this past Shabbat, and David was his teacher. It was a great party and a lovely Shabbat - Mazal tov! We will definitely miss them when they go back to the States.

The cookie platters for the first Shabbat of Chanuka included linzer dreidels, mini chocolate caramel dreidel sandwiches, and sugar cookie magen David ganache sandwiches.
One customer got nervous when I said I was including Chanuka cookies in the assortment - she thought the whole platter would be plain old sugar cookies with sprinkles or something. Funny how simply you can incorporate a theme into cutout cookies. Minimal additional effort = something really sweet and special. And that, readers, is why I love cookie cutters.

As usual, I neglected to take a picture of the full platters. Someone will have to stick a post-it to my forehead or the inside of my glasses or something.

After Shabbat, it was back to work on Sunday night's shul anniversary celebration. Ariel was the head, and I was her assistant, and somehow it all came together. The theme was Brooklyn, in honor of the original Glenwood, and the concept ran through the evening. The centerpieces were popcorn tubs, full of popcorn, with Israeli flags and Brooklyn Dodgers pennants perched inside. The food was all retro-Brooklyn themed, with Italian ices and bakery type cookies for dessert. A video retrospective captured the essence of the night, and a trivia game (yay, Lori!) got everyone enthused and involved. It was a fun evening, capped off with a great souvenir - a photo in a custom Glenwood anniversary frame, done by Gary and Suzanne. Glad it went well, glad that it's over.

Now we can enjoy the rest of Chanuka. More to follow...

Chag Urim Sameach!


P.S. "Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cupcake Creations

Let me start out by saying that the palmiers were delicious. Even Ariella loved them, which is funny, because they don't exactly seem like a six-year-old's idea of a treat. She was a little intimidated by the "green things" - she is her father's daughter - but got over it quickly and enjoyed them. David would be loathe to admit it, but he did not hate them. Now that I have experienced the taste combo, I want to find a cookie recipe with the same flavors. I think that would be tasty and unusual.

This weekend, I decided to flex my cupcaking muscles a little bit. I tried two new flavors: lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream, and devil's food cupcakes with caramel buttercream. The lemon was just delicious, with some real tartness in the frosting. I was less enamored of the devil's food, as the texture was a little delicate for a cupcake. I mean, who wants their cupcake to fall apart when they take off the paper? The frosting was also somewhat problematic. The recipe is an American one, which calls for brown sugar, but the coarseness of the brown sugar here prevented the texture from ever becoming smooth. They still tasted great and looked cute, but the sugar added some real crunch in the creamy frosting. Guess I will have to work on it - the kids will be so disappointed!

The last fun food activity for this Shabbat was making vegetable sushi with Ayelet. I was inspired by Arica's recent sushi post, as well as Ayelet's incessant requests for sushi making. We used an assortment of vegetables - avocado, steamed sweet potato, red and yellow pepper, cucumber, and carrot, in various combinations.

They were fine, and yummy, if not particularly artistic. Local sushi places have nothing to fear from our rolling technique. I am sure that will a little more practice, our technique will improve. Also, next time we must include smoked salmon, kanpyo, and shitake mushrooms, just for fun.

Shavua tov!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

I just know he's gonna hate it

Sometimes I like to try flavors that are a bit out of the norm - my Kicked Up chocolate Chip Cookies, Mexican Chocolate Cookies, Orange Chocolate Chipsters, Chai Sugar Cookies, well, they are all examples of that tendency. And those are just the ones that actually work. Today, because I have a leftover piece of puff pastry hanging around, I decided to try making Lemon-Rosemary Palmiers. Ay, there's the rub. David hates rosemary. Hates. But I love the idea of the palmiers with the acid and the woodsy flavor melting into the sugar, not to mention the decadence of puff pastry (like I said before, not your everyday ingredient in this house.). And hey, there was only enough dough for about two dozen cookies. Just enough to try, not enough to OD.

First batch just came out of the oven - smells sooo good. Here's a photo, because I remembered to actually take one. Yep, still on the baking tray, because I don't want to take the chance of forgetting. I think I will use the leftover lemon zest-y sugar to make lemon cupcakes, as I am super-conservation girl (actually, just hate to throw stuff out). Will let you know - maybe even see - how those come out.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And I wonder, still I wonder

Lots of things in Israel have funny names: New Year's is "Chag HaSylvester" (note the lack of attention to the anti-Semitic nature inherent in holidays named after saints who loved to dispatch with heretics), St. Valentine's Day is "Yom HaAhava" (again, as if there is no anti-Jewish aspect to the whole holiday just to start with), a ladybug is "Parat Moshe Rabeinu," plastic road dividers are "New Jerseys," a hands-free phone receiver headset is a "Madonna", and the list goes on. One cool funny name, though, is what pigs-in-blankets are called here - "Moshe B'teiva," Moshe in the ark/floating basket he was placed in as a baby by his mother Yocheved and sister Miriam. Ariella LOVES Moshe b'teiva. She askes me to make them before every Shabbat. As a good, healthy eating and feeding mother who never serves bad-for-you stuff (please refrain from reflecting on the title of this blog), naturally I demure most weeks, as I absolutely refuse to serve puff pastry and all its attendant fats on a regular basis. It has been a while since we made them. So I can not tell you what prompted the latest Lola observation.

This morning, the little princess jumped out of bed and ran into our room, requiring a little snuggle time before getting dressed. She settles in, then suddenly pops up to ask, "Imma, why are pigs-in-blankets called "Moshe b'teiva'?" Before I can even respond with what I thought should be an obvious answer, she continues, "It's not right because Moshe was all covered up in his teiva. It was closed at the ends, and the hot dog is open at the ends." I was speechless. I guess we are getting something out of the free, public school education!

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