Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Oh Chanukah

it is 5:00 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  it is the third night of Chanukah.  it is the 10th anniversary of my mom's passing.  I am going to Jerusalem on the 6:00 p.m. bus.  I just got back from work.  I was hoping to leave earlier but I still had to sort out some meals for Wednesday and Thursday.  I have been cooking since sunday to cover these days.  today, I made falafel and chips, salads and fried eggplant.  I sometimes make soup, too, but today I was busy cooking white bean chili, rice, mashed potatoes, green lentils, spaghetti and organizing the meals.  I hope it will all work out.

I was supposed to stop in hadera to make a shiva call but I was too tired to travel.  I didn't sleep a wink last night.  I was so worried about organizing the house, and the meals for the yeshiva that I kept running items in my head.  I gave the local chabad shul $100 to do a Kiddush for my mom and I spent about 100 shekels on cakes for the yeshiva. I just lit a memorial candle for her and I lit the chanukiah.  I won't be able to visit her graveside until after Chanukah ends.  I'm sure my sister went to the grave already.

I guess it's time to get ready to leave.  I just had to run outside and get my very male dog unstuck out of another dog. can it get any weirder??

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Getting It Together

it is 7:30 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  I've been home for hours.  I went to the local supermarket this morning and spent over $200.  I needed to get staples for my friends who are returning from the states.  I also bought a lot of food for a friend who dog sits for me.  I am needed in Jerusalem next week.  the kids are going off for a vacation to eilat.  they have a brand new cat and are very worried to leave it alone.  the grandkids have day camp even though it's Chanukah.  I will try very hard to cook up extra meals and leave them for the students on Wednesday and Thursday.  I already told them that I will be gone on the following Monday and Tuesday.  I hate taking breaks from work but after that epic 9 hour 'banquet', I am genuinely tired and cooked out.

I came in to work at 1:00 p.m.  I had a taxi take me home first from the supermarket and then to my friend's home and last, to the yeshiva.  it looked like there was already food there.  there was leftover food form an event last night and some leftover dinner that I made.  I took a platter of cut up raw veggies and added an Italian dressing over it.  I put the leftover lentils and pasta on the electric platter.  I was really tired and felt like cabbing it home right there and then.  I threw some tomatoes and onions and red peppers into a pot and added olive oil and some spices and fresh garlic.  I added a couple of cans of tomato paste and cooked it for awhile and then pureed everything.  I added a bit of soy milk to make it 'creamy like'.   there was tons of leftover rolls and a giant fancy mousse cake.

I individually bagged the rolls and placed them in the freezer for next week.  the manager said to use them for bread crumbs but they were still quite fresh.  he was going to put the cake out for breakfast bit I froze it instead.  let them have it as a treat on sunday night, the first night of Chanukah.  it's a custom to serve dairy besides all that fried food.  I am intending to make a lot of potato latkes for their supper.  as apples are very expensive, I will buy canned applesauce and spice it up.  I think i'll make a thick pea soup, too.  that ought to fill them up.  I will make a greek salad too.  I can't really add cheese as the kitchen is not dairy.  I will figure something out.

I cooked a bit of spicy, saucy chicken already and made some brown rice and sweet potatoes and placed it in my friend's fridge. I also broiled some chicken wings.  I had some leftover turkey neck soup from my thanksgiving Shabbat last week.  I defrosted it and strained it so there wouldn't be any mushy veggies.  I thought about making a cholent but I think that I will make a small shepherd 's pie instead.  I can share it with my friends, if they have arrived in the morning.  I am beat and will call it a night.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Giving Thanks

it is 8:30 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  I just got home from work a little while ago.  I spent about 9 hours at work today.  it is a chabad holiday and I needed to make a feast for about 25-30 people.  I made sweet and sour meatballs, carrot and sweet potato tzimmes, white rice, sweet noodle kugel with pineapple and craisins, noodle kugel with zucchini and onion, string beans teriyaki, coleslaw, kasha, a large chocolate cake with genache frosting and a small non gluten and vegan chocolate cake for the two vegetarian students.  I thoroughly trashed the kitchen and couldn't leave it like that even though the manager told me to go home. I put all of the food on the electric platter and washed all of the pots and pans and plastic bowls and serving utensils and then I did the stovetop and counter tops.  I stayed long enough to wash the floor.  I walked back to town to get a taxi.

I started cooking yesterday.  I made the sweet and sour sauce and the sweet kugel before I left yesterday.  it took forever to make the meatballs today.  I used 5 pounds of chopped beef.  I ended up burning the bottom of the pan of meatballs and most of the pineapple pieces were stuck to the bottom of the pan.  I forgot how to cook them.  I didn't really follow the instructions all the way.  I tasted the meatballs and they didn't taste burnt.  the vegan cake came out pretty good but the genache wasn't the best.  I used baker's chocolate and perhaps I should have bought the 70 percent good dark chocolate.   that was what I had in the pantry and I couldn't leave to go to the grocery store.  I used rich's non dairy whipping cream. it looks like frosting and the guys got excited when they saw it.

the large chocolate cake didn't come out that good.  I baked it on a temperature that was too high and the turbo was on, to make things worse. I also used a pan that was too large and the cake didn't rise very high.  it looked dry but I'm sure that all that fluffy icing will help moisten it.  I wasn't in pain all day long.  I was able to walk through town and move my head sideways without wincing.  the hip pain just started and I am struggling to remain seated and type.  the neck pain is kicking in too.  I guess I overdid it today.  I hope that they all enjoy the meal and that I made enough.

I didn't get a chance to eat or drink today.  I stopped off at the health food store before work to buy chickpea flour to make a non gluten cake. I made a huge pot of vegetables to go with couscous for lunch.  I don't make it from scratch.  I use a box.  I cut up tons of zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, red peppers and onions to make a spicy sauce and added tons of freshly cooked chickpeas.  I cut up tons of fresh veggies and made a tahini dressing.  I made an eggless non gluten corn bread and threw in craisins. I tasted it before I went home.  it was lovely.  I made a non gluten low carb corn bread for Shabbat.  it tasted like cake.  it only had a third of a cup of cornmeal.  I used coconut oil and flour and six eggs.  coconut flour needs a lot of liquid. it looks like cornbread but doesn't really taste like it.

it is an out Shabbat for the yeshiva.  it means that I may not have to work on Thursday.  I am looking forward to a rest.  I thought about going to Jerusalem for Shabbat before chanukah.  my son didn't sound too interested in my visiting so I think I will shelve my plan.  I could go and visit my friend in efrat but maybe I should rest.  my friends are supposed to be returning on Thursday but they may be stranded in New York due to weather.  I will shop tomorrow to fill up their fridge anyway.  I was planning on making soup for them.  I did freeze my turkey neck soup from last Shabbat.  I can buy some cold cuts for them or make chicken wings on Thursday.  right now I need to eat and have some tea.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

They Loved My Soup

it is 10:00 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  it is now thanksgiving  in America.  I really miss it.  I wanted to do something tonight but I just couldn't get it together.  I worked until 6:30 this evening.  I came in at 11:00 a.m. to get the prep work done for the lunch.  I decided to make falafels.  I fried up about 5 eggplants.  the secret to a crispy eggplant slice is to salt them first and drain the liquid.  it does make a difference.  I made a large bowl of tahini paste.   the guys love this stuff. I then chopped up dozens of tomatoes and cucumbers and sliced up an industrial sized can of pickles and many onions.  I baked two trays of frozen French fries.  that's about 5 pounds of chips.  they took over two hours to finish.

I also made a vegetable soup with carrots, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions and zucchini squash.  I no longer throw tomatoes into everything. one of the guys can't deal with tomatoes.  I stopped making a red sauce with tomato paste for the pasta. I have been doing a lot of teriyaki sauce lately. one guy has gone non gluten so I try to make lentils or chickpeas each day.  another young man is a vegan so I try making eggless corn bread and cakes.  the secret is vinegar.  another young man has a nut allergy so I took home the peanut butter.  it is quite a balance to feed everyone.  we are up to 20 young men.  there doesn't seem to be many leftovers these days.  no one has complained of not getting enough food.  at least, no one has complained to me.

I went to the supermarket on Tuesday to buy ingredients to make a thanksgiving meal. my friend, who dog sits for me when I visit the kids in Jerusalem, is coming over for Shabbat.  I could only find ground turkey, necks and fillets.  I already put up a pot of turkey neck soup and made a turkey stew and a pot of rice.  I also made two slices of tuna.  I bought two nice size pieces of pumpkin to make a pie.   I baked one piece and put the other one in the soup.  well, guess what?  I have to go back to the supermarket tomorrow morning to buy another piece of pumpkin.  after draining the liquid out of the mashed pumpkin, I was left with only one cup of pumpkin.  the recipe calls for two cups. go know....

I am trying to make a low sugar and low carb pie this time. I have been sugar and mostly carb free for about two weeks.  I have been eating huge amounts of protein and a lot of veggies.  I really have to lose about 30 pounds or more.  the grandkids started calling me a fatso. my sciatic has gone down into my hip and I am nearly crippled.  I manage at work but when I sit, standing up is unbearable.  I stood for 71/2 hours today at work.  I don't know why it took me so long to finish up.  after lunch, I made an eggless chocolate cake. I was going to make turkey burgers for their supper but I just couldn't fry one more thing.  I made a tray of red lentils and one of rice.  I made a pot of turkey meatballs without tomato sauce.  I hope they liked it.

the washing up took over an hour.  I couldn't wait to get home.  luckily, I caught a cab home. I have a low carb recipe to make corn bread.  I am using coconut flour and oil and many eggs and only a third cup of corn meal.  I wonder if it will taste like corn bread.  I bought a bottle of stevia back in the summer.  it tastes disgusting.  I have ben drinking hot chocolate with cocoa powder and a dash of natural almond extract.  it really doesn't taste bad without the sugar.  I will attempt a pie crust using coconut flour tomorrow.  I hope it goes well.  my friend is bringing a chocolate pumpkin cake.

I don't want to get triggered into eating a lot of sugar again. I couldn't find frozen cranberries.  I bought dried cranberries to make a sauce.  I read about a drink called 'cape cod' with cranberry juice and vodka and that's what got me started on making thanksgiving.  I managed to buy ocean spray cranberry nectar but I will see if I can find the real juice in the supermarket. I also bought frozen string beans to make almandine and ready cooked beets.  we shall have a feast!

sideline-  that picture of me is already ten years ago when I was still active and healthy and pretty attractive.  it was from my son's engagement party.  it was before I had cervical cancer, and before they detected a brain tumor.  it was before I had grandchildren and before I got fat.  it was before I lost my mother and most of my savings.  it was before I entered a pretty bad depression and before I got temporary facial paralysis.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Not Just Another Shabbat

it is 2:30 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  my son and family just stopped by to say hello.  they came in for Shabbat.  we are going to do a small family birthday party for my granddaughter on Saturday evening when Shabbat ends.  they are staying with the Sephardi parents.  my house is freezing so it is quite kokay that they aren't sleeping here.  I am also relieved not to have to cook for Shabbat.  I brought home some buckwheat that I made at the yeshiva.  I boiled some eggs and I will open a can of tuna for lunch.  I will join the family for dinner at the Sephardi family's home.  I will get a ride there but the real issue is how I will schlep back to my house.  it is pouring in safed.

it is such a blessing to be receiving so much rain that no one can actually complain about the weather.  I will wear a long coat, and my winter boots.  I will make sure to take an extra scarf to cover my head.  if I am lucky, it will stop for a while so that I can walk home.  I am leaving on two heaters in case, I do come home wet.  at least I will be warm, more or less.  this is a huge house to heat.  my back and hip are acting up.  I am struggling with the pain.  I will take a hot shower in a moment.

I ran to town to buy party goods for tomorrow.  I spent about $30.  I wanted this to be special.  it's her first birthday since they moved to Jerusalem.  and the family cat, who was only two years old had to put down yesterday.  the poor thing had a  blood clot and became paralyzed.  he was a very expensive pet.  a grey cat similar to the fancy one that taylor swift has.  these cats do not have a long life span because the folded ears is a defect and they mostly suffer heart problems.  there should be a ban against breeding such pets.  my son and wife are devastated.  this was the first animal that the daughter-in-law bonded with and truly loved.

he had a really good life in Jerusalem.  he spent most of the day outside.  I am not a cat lover but I feel bad for the family.  I had to put two of my dogs down last year. they were old but terribly bad off.  it is so hard losing a family pet.  it seems like it is always just before Shabbat when it is very difficult to get a doctor. all four of my dogs either died or were put down on a Friday afternoon.  the kids bought my granddaughter a talking baby doll. it is the scariest and cutest thing I ever saw.  she moves her lips when she talks and laughs and rolls her eyes and waves her arms back and forth.  what technology!

I stopped off at the local discount toy store and got the kids a bunch of toys.  I bought a Barbie-like car for dolls and two cheap dolls.  she does have a real Barbie back in Jerusalem, that she found in a second hand store.  I actually, bought the second doll for her cousin who had a birthday recently. I thought they could play together.  alas, she wasn't giving it up.  I bought a star wars doll and a small robot for my grandson and two bay blades for their cousins, which my grandson kept for himself..  whatever...I did spend about $70.

I really do not feel like venturing out again in this weather but I think that I must join the kids for dinner.  I need to shower and get myself in gear.  Shabbat shalom!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday Evening

it is 6:00 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  Shabbat ended a little while ago.  I didn't make a big fuss for Shabbat.  a friend brought over a bit of lamb for me.  my good friends are in the U.S. and so I was all alone.  I was having a hard time on Friday.  I am in a real funk since the grandkids moved away.  I went to visit them last week.  the yeshiva had an off Shabbat.  I met a gal pal at the station one.  my son has a gallery there.  there are many restaurants and fun things to do with the kids.  each time I visit we meet and have dinner and catch a movie.  this time I was anxious to get back to the kids' apartment before they went to bed.  I always sleep with them.  I have to lie between them and hold onto them until they fall asleep.  I think we were all asleep by 9:00 p.m.

everyone went to work and school and I was alone in the apartment.  I took advantage of the alone time and showered and got ready for Shabbat.  it comes in at 4:00 p.m. these days.  I spent a lot of time on the phone with my girlfriends in safed.  Shabbat is hectic because everyone is exhausted and hasn't spent a lot of time with each during the week.  I tried to stay neutral and keep my mouth shut.  when I first arrived the kids asked me how long I was staying.  they both went hysterical when I told them that I had to leave on sunday morning.  I ,in turn, started crying.  when my grandson saw that I was also sad, he stopped crying immediately and hugged me.

it is very hard not seeing them all the time.  I helped raise them for a total of 9 years.  I go to the yeshiva everyday and cook for about 5-6 hours.  there are 18 students now.  they eat like a crowd of 25. I have been struggling with back pain.  I fell off of a chair before Rosh Hashanah and I think this is a result of the fall.  I am not one for running to the doctor and I have been trying to ride it out.  it seems to be getting worse.  my sciatic kicked in.  it is problematic on my right side.  my foot swells up and my hand gets stiff.

when I cook I stand.  somehow this is less painful than sitting.  I have been sleeping a lot.  the pain is below my neck between the shoulder blades.  it is painful and difficult to turn my neck.  I am in constant pain.  I am in the process of down sizing.  I have an enormous house with three floors and enough closet space to store many things.  I don't want these things anymore.  most of them was my mother's possessions.  she was also a hoarder.  I recently took all of the English judaica books that I don't read or even look at to a small book store in town.  why not have other people enjoy them.  this was a huge process.  each day I would taxi to town with two large bags full.  I was able to clear a huge book case.  it is sitting downstairs for someone to claim.

I packed up 6 large garbage bags of old prayer books that were in bad condition.  that cleared out another book case.  they are currently sitting on my front porch.  they are very heavy.  I am in no condition to lift these bags.  I need to call a taxi and bring them to a place where they bury old books. I throw a few things out every day.  I threw out an old telephone table yesterday.  I fantasize about leaving Safed and moving to Jerusalem.  I do not think that I am ready to sell my house but I could rent it out and then rent an apartment in Jerusalem.  I find it very hard to really actualize this.  I fear renters.  I don't have any money to make changes in the house. I roam around my floor and look at all of the antique furniture and think about selling it.

I know that it would get destroyed moving it.  it made it here from New York but they were professional  packers.  I doubt something like that exists here.  who knows?  right now I am fantasizing about making a thanksgiving meal for friends.  I doubt that I will have the strength to do one.  I go to work, come home, watch t.v. and then go to sleep.  I don't feel like cooking when I come back from work.  I tend to binge on chocolates.  I don't have the energy to shop for food after work.  I come back at 6:00 p.m. or later and it is dark and cold.  I sometimes take a taxi home.

yesterday, about an hour before Shabbat I put up the hot water urn, boiled some eggs, cut some veggies for a salad, opened a can of corn and broiled some lamb kabobs.  voila, I made Shabbat. it was weird being alone for Shabbat. I was very down. I went to bed right after eating and read a bit and then went to sleep.  I made it to synagogue but didn't stay for the Kiddush.  I felt like a loner.  I didn't want to be with people.  I came home, had some kabobs and salad and went to sleep. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Friday Morning

it is 9:00 a.m. in the holy city of safed.  I do not work on Fridays. yes!!  it is the one day that I can do errands, clean up the mess in the house and get ready for Shabbat.  I saw a leak upstairs on the roof of the apartment coming from the hot water tank.  it wasn't a flood but I, nevertheless, called my repair guy last week.  he replaced a narrow pipe and I think it did the trick.  he also started repairing some fallen tiles in the kitchen.  he then, never showed up again.  I was too busy to call him back.  I kept imagining the worst.  last night I even imagined him dying.

I was planning on calling him this morning but he beat me to the punch.  hopefully, he will come soon.  the weather finally turned cold and stormy.  we had two intense rain storms.  we desperately need the water here.  we are facing a serious water crisis.  I was pretty tired yesterday and cabbed it to work.  on the way home it was rather stormy and I was wet from doing the pots and pans.  a taxi passed by and I jumped in and got home in ten minutes.  normally it takes me almost an hour to get home.  it involves waiting for 2 busses.  usually, I sit out in the cold for half an hour. the actual ride is only about 20 minutes.  I have been getting home around 8:00 p.m. lately.

I have to work an hour to pay for a cab ride.  I get paid a bit less than $10 an hour.  a cab ride is about $8 during the daytime.  it goes up a bit after 8:00 p.m.  that's the economic reality here in safed.  it used to be $4 to buy a cup of coffee.  now they have cofix, a store where everything is only 5 shekels. I often frequent the store to get an iced coffee in the summer.  it's bad quality but the price is right.   I just went outside to pick up the leaves in front of the house.  I was too lazy to go upstairs and retrieve my dust pan. I scooped it all up with my hands.  it was rather nasty outside.  I was pleasantly surprised to feel that the house was comfortably warm inside.  I did manage to close all of the windows.

yesterday, I made falafel balls and many of the fixings for lunch.  the guys really loved it.  me, not so much.  it was a lot of work. I haven't fried up falafel balls in over 30 years.  I hardly ever eat them even though they are a national dish.  people eat them for breakfast here.  my falafel balls were awful.  they were over fired and crumbly and greasy.  the frozen French fries took over an hour and a half to bake.  some were still raw while many were burnt.  I made tahini sauce and I made my own chumus from scratch.  I cooked up the dried chickpeas first.  I diced, what seemed like, endless amounts of tomatoes and cucumbers.  I sliced a few onion rings.  I fried up about 5 large eggplants.  it took hours to prepare and I forgot to open up a can of pickles.  I don't think the guys noticed.

I was supposed to make tuna patties for dinner but I couldn't even look at a bottle of oil again.  I made a tuna loaf, buckwheat, aka 'kasha' and a zucchini soufflĂ©, instead.  it took an hour to do the washing up and clean the stovetop.  there was oil everywhere.  I ended up working for six hours yesterday.  that's six hours standing on my feet with a sore back.  I normally finish in 4-5 hours.  there are now 18 young men there but they eat like a pack of 25.  there isn't a bit of food left over lately.  it is a lot more work to do.  one of the guys decided that he doesn't want to eat gluten.   I have been cooking lentils and chickpeas each day so that he can have some protein.  he doesn't eat meat during the week.  I also try not peeling the potatoes unless I make a mash.  the manager prefers that I make only 3 items for each meal and rather than add another item; he wants me to increase the amount of each item.

a bag of rice was always enough for 10-12 young men but that's not nearly enough for this crowd.   it's more like 6 pounds of potatoes to make a mash now.  I am tired.  my hands are all cut up and blistered.  I am already dreading Chanukah.  I am known for making latkes, and fried foods during the week up Chanukah. it is going to be very challenging, indeed!.  I do not know how to assemble the food processor so I have been grating small amounts by hand.  I will have to sort this out sooner or later.  I used to make the guys a cake for Shabbat but I just don't have the time anymore.  I was hoping to make peanut butter cookies for them but alas, came along one young man, who has a peanut allergy.

I am hoping to visit the grandkids next week in Jerusalem.  the guys have an out Shabbat.  that means I only need to leave lunch for them on Thursday.  and I only need to make them supper on Sunday.  I can jump on a bus at 2:00 p.m. and hopefully get to Jerusalem before the kids are sleeping.  now i only need for their parents to agree to my visiting.   we shall see.