Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The luckiest girl in the world

On days like today, I truly feel like the luckiest girl in the world. My job is the best. I get to do something I love, something I am good at, and it makes people happy. But on days like today, there is a little something extra. I get to help someone celebrate a simcha. Today, as it often is, it was an engagement. Two people, embarking on an adventure, taking a leap of faith, finding each other. How corny, and how cool. And I get to help them celebrate with their family and friends. There is a pure joy in the baking for a situation like this. I always enjoy baking for Shabbat - it feels like holy work - but a simcha adds something extra. I feel so good about producing something beautiful and delicious for the occasion. And when the people are special and wonderful, like all my customers, of course, it is icing on the cake. Consider this a little love letter to my customers, and a thank you to all of you who allow me to be a part of your simcha. It is a blessing in my life. Dvora

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ah, Purim, we hardly knew ye

If anyone is wondering, making a bar mitzvah right before Purim kind of eats into the whole Purim celebration thing. I mean, by the time we got over the sheer exhaustion (actually, we still haven't!), it was kind of late to start on an elaborate Mishloach Manot idea, you know, if any ideas had popped into my tired brain. We were certainly not going to pull off anything like last year, much to the chagrin of a few friends and even some of their extended families. I did, however, accept a few jobs that had to be filled to enhance some other people's simchat Purim. First, I baked a whole bunch of these:Hamantaschen, filled with apple, raspberry, apricot, caramel, black currant, and chocolate.

I made various sized Mishloach Manot

smallmedium, and large (really giant!).

Here's another of the giant before wrapping:

I love the little plastic containers full of cookies and hamantaschen on this one - so cute! And lots of yummy cake pops and chocolate bark with dried fruits and nuts.

For the seudah, we are lucky enough to have a seudah tradition with two other families, who were very adamant that we take the year off and not make anything, knowing better than we did how tired we would be (not even figuring on the sick kid who had to get treatment at Terem on Purim night for THREE hours - did I mention our Shabbat Zachor curse? It involves one of our kids throwing up on almost every Shabbat Zachor. This year I was silly enought to think we had beaten it. But it was just a little slow out of the gate, making its presence known shortly after Shabbat.). But they did relent and allow me to contribute to dessert - individual Kahlua cakes and rainbow mini-cupcakes.

These were a couple of items that I had served over the bar mitzvah Shabbat, but now had time to make again and photograph. The seudah was a lot of fun, and we are very blessed!

With all the chaos, Purim came and went and we will look forward to a calmer one next year.

Happy Countdown to Pesach!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another lousy day

I don't think "lousy" quite sums up the bad-ness of this day. But this is rated G, so we will go with it. Another post with no pictures, no baking, no joy. We woke this morning to the news that a rocket had fallen in Beer Sheva, injuring one, and other rockets had missed their marks elsewhere in the south. Numerous mortars and rockets rained down today. School was cancelled in Be'er Sheva, so that families could sit at home together, near their bomb shelters, waiting for another siren to sound, giving them the seconds they need to escape inside and pray for the best. And then this afternoon, a bomb near the central bus station. An explosive, packed with ball bearings, was left by a bus stop. Just as an alert passer-by called the police to report the suspicious object, it exploded, injuring 34 and ultimately killing a 60 year old woman. We immediately scrambled to get in touch with all of our kids - logically, they should have been safe in school, but who knows? Maybe someone got out early, stopped for coffee, stood chatting with a friend at a bus stop. The cell networks were overloaded, making it difficult to make contact. When we finally ascertained that they were all okay, we started on the next round, checking on the rest of the family, playing broken telephone because of the, well, broken telephone lines. We can be grateful that everyone is fine. But many people are not. Many of the victims were young, students on their way home. Seminary girls, whose parents sent them for a year of learning and growth. We all know the risk is there, but we never think it could happen to us. So why did this happen, this return to terror in West Jerusalem? The first explosive successfully detonated by terrorists in four year? "It's a natural reaction to Zionist aggression." Who knew the act of taking a bus was so darned aggressive. That existing was an act of aggression. And we will likely be castigated for any reaction, which will be labeled as "out of proportion." But to quote the status that is flying across Facebook: News Flash: Family in Laredo, Texas massacred in their sleep; bomb hits bus #74 outside D.C. Convention Center injuring dozens and killing at least one; dozens of rockets and missiles continue falling in Fairfax, Virginia. Do I have your attention? Is this completely insane and far-fetched? Then why is it allowed to be commonplace in Israel? Just a little something to chew on, as there will be no cookies today. Dvora

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bar Mitzvah Madness

This bar mitzvah post will not have any pictures of goodies. Why? Because this is my son's bar mitzvah, and I did so much baking that there was no time for pictures before the event. And since most of the baking was aimed toward the kiddush after davening on Shabbat morning, there are no pictures of that either, it being Shabbat and all. But rest assured, it was really beautiful. As a proud mother let me say that Dani did an unbelievable job. His leining went off without a hitch - better that we ever imagined. The consensus was that he did not sound like a bar mitzvah boy; he was confident, calm, and composed. Our other kids did a brilliant job in helping with the preparation and just being great sisters. As a baker, I am so glad that things went really well. For Friday night dinner, I prepared a plated dessert: mini-Kahlua cakes with Kahlua drizzle, mini cocolate trifle, and strawberries. Shabbat lunch dessert was a buffet: mini lemon mousses, mini chocolate mousses, chocolate cinnamon cake with mocha glaze, Harvey Wallbanger cake, Oreo crumb cake from Shoshana, pies from Claire, fruit, and of course, cookies and mini-cupcakes. And for the kiddush - such a shame that there are no pictures, so you will have to settle for a list: espresso double chocolate chunk cookies, ginger crinkles, orange-cranberry-white chocolate cookies, peanut butter oatmeal sandwiches, molasses cream sandwiches, thin mint sandwiches, sugar cookie ganache sandwiches, glazed lemon cookies, chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies, lemon drop sandwiches, linzer cookies, ginger white chocolate blondies, chewy cherry oatmeal bars, double decker brownies, cherry-pecan-white chocolate blondies spiked with whiskey, coffee and cream brownies, tuxedo brownies, chocolate dipped pecan pie shortbread, rainbow mini-cupcakes with white vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles, snickerdoodle mini-cupcakes (topped with fluffy vanilla buttercream and cinnamon-sugar), red velvet mini-cupcake (topped with fluffy vanilla buttercream and red sprinkles), vanilla cream filled vanilla mini-cupcakes topped with buttercream and chocolate tefilin, chocolate mousse buttercream filled chocolate mini-cupcakes topped with buttercream and square chocolates embossed with tefillin, and finally, cake pops. Was that enough? It was a real joy to be able to make everything for my son's bar mitzvah kiddush myself, and am grateful that I was able to pull it off. There are a couple of things I had hoped to make, but never got to. I am pretty sure I am the only one who noticed. May we only hear about smachot. Dvora

Lost in thought

A week and a half ago, we celebrated our son's bar mitzvah. I had been looking forward to sharing it with you, and I do plan to, but something happened over the weekend that has made it difficult to discuss. You see, while we were enjoying Shabbat dinner with our family, celebrating our son's entry into the nation as a full member, another family was being slaughtered in their beds. That same Friday night, while we were enjoying parental pride, another set of parents were butchered, along with three of their children, including a three month old baby girl. Three children will never grow up, and three other children are orphans. They will never have their parents look at them with pride, to see their milestones, to celebrate their successes and dry their tears. Because they were Jews, living in their homes. On Saturday night, when we learned of the horrendous terror attack, of the savagery and pure evil that had been perpetrated, we were in shock. How could we continue to celebrate, go on with our plans for the Sunday night party? But terrorists can not stop us from living our lives, so we go on. It is the reality of life here. For truly moving photos of the funeral of the Fogel family, I suggest you look at the Real Jerusalem Streets blog, which documented the 25,000 mourners who attended the funeral. Additional photos can be found on their Facebook page. This is our nation, joining together in strength to remind the world that we will not retreat, and assuring the surviving family that they will never be alone.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rafi's Bar Mitzvah

For Rafi's bar mitzvah, a large group of friends from the US wanted to send something special for the Thursday morning celebration in the Old City. Rafi is here for the year with his family, and his family's close friends wanted to help out with the preparations, something that would have been easy within the community. But from 7000 miles away, Cookie Creations can fill the void. The two giant platters contained a large variety of flavors.Linzer cookies, toffee bars, orange-cranberry white chocolate cookies, thin mint sandwiches, double decker brownie bars, espresso double chocolate chunk cookies, and ginger crinkles. On top, Sefer Torah sugar cookies to mark the event.For the Shabbat with family, another friend, this time a local, wanted to send cookies, including sugar cookies, but to make sure the composition was very different. She is partial to the funkier styles that Shana creates, so we topped the platter with those.This time, the cookies were sugar cookie ganache sandwiches, ginger white chocolate blondies, alfajores, pecan pie thumbprints, chocolate raspberry truffle brownies, and chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies. The sugar cookies were particularly cute - here are a couple of close-ups:
Much mazal to Rafi and the whole family - with so much love from friends from all over, they are already on the right path!

Rosh Chodesh Treats

They say "Mishenichnas Adar, marbim bsimcha," when Adar comes in, joy abounds. True, and it is now Adar Alef - almost Bet - but these cookies were to celebrate Rosh Chodesh Sh'vat, the month that includes Tu b'Sh'vat, the new year for the trees. And these Rosh Chodesh treats were chosen to match the themes.
Chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies, moon pies, snickerdoodles, half-moon cookies, and oatmeal raisin cream sandwiches all reflected either the month or the new moon. The recipients had fun discussing with their children why each flavor was chosen - can you figure them all out? The platter was topped off with a sugar cookie showcasing the Shivat HaMinim - the seven species special to the land.
For those of you who can't sing it out, they are wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate, olive and date palm. Hope you can identify which is which!
Hoping that your Sh'vat was a healthy and prosperous months, as should be all months going forward.
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