Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hits And Misses

sunday in zefat. i just got back from my yoga class and i'm feeling better than when i left. for those of you who don't do yoga yet, let me recommend it. each time i leave the class, i feel like i just left the spa. i just got a request from another cast member for a specific purim costume, i'm so excited!

the shabbaton was lovely. we were eight at the table plus sahar. this year the shuls put out beautiful tu b'shvat brochures so we had the printed seder at hand. my son read the text of the seder in hebrew for us and i read some comments in english. we had the kiddush, challah and ate 12 different fruits. we then ate another 18 variety of nuts and fruits within the shabbat meal itself. in between courses we drank another 3 cups of wine.

some of the dishes were a great hit and others were not. the half gallon bottle of kedem white grape juice was a hit. the $60 bottle of the 2005 cabernet sauvignon dry red wine, that zvi brought home from the winery, was an even bigger hit. zvi very willingly, drank 4 huge glasses of the wine. he was a very happy and gracious host for the rest of the seder. he also brought home a modest, blush dessert wine, which was very fruity and tasted like port. it was also a big hit. at one point, i dressed up baby sahar into a pineapple costume. it was a big hit with his young mom. the green tee shirt with the 'zelda's place' logo, that michal made, was a big hit.

the 'flopped' cranberry and blueberry muffins were surprisingly, a hit. the carob brownies were a definite hit. the orange cake was a near miss. the candied fruit and nut bars were a hit. the morracan tsimis was a miss. the mango and orange salsa was a miss. the small piece of hot pepper made it less than a hit. michal's cranberry relish was a huge hit. the fennel pistachio salad was a hit. the white cabbage slaw with dried cranberries and pecans was a hit. i didn't make a red cabbage slaw in the end. everyone was disappointed that i didn't make the orange and spinach salad. the waldorf salad with apples, grapes, celery and macadamia nuts and tahina dressing, was a near miss. the plain beets with lemon were virtually, untouched.

the star fruit was a big hit. it was actually, the first ripe one that i ever ate. the sabra fruit was a total miss. the 'pink lady' apple was a hit, as well as the red pears. the chestnut soup was a huge hit. it tasted like something you'd experience at the ritz carlton. we all had small amounts except for michal who doesn't eat mushrooms. the cherry salad was a hit. the humus with pine nuts was a near miss. the barley and fried onions was a big hit. the avocado was a hit. the carrot slaw with candied kumquats and hazel nuts was a hit. the lemon and garlic fish fillets were a hit. (the secret being lots of fresh cilantro and a good amount of turmeric). the main course, the coconut, cashew, lychee chicken was a huge hit.

the morning meal was a huge success. the usual shabbat plain, boiled mashed potatoes with hard cooked eggs, that i make all the time, for zvi and gal, was a big hit with this crowd. the chopped liver was a huge hit. my secret is white wine. the cherry chicken was also a huge hit,too. again, the secret is white wine. the white challah was a near miss and the mini whole wheat pitas and rolls were a definite hit, with this group of ladies. we made zvi bless on the whole wheat bread which was not his favorite thing to do. gal and zvi were the 'odd men' out here. this was a whole wheat kind of crowd.

we had tuna fish for the third meal. both the water and oily tuna were a hit. the potato salad, that i made in the morning, was a huge miss. no one touched it. mikimi brought a package of smoked turkey meat, which was a hit. most of the dried fruits were a hit except for the citron. i ate most of the carob by myself. the raw cashews were a hit as well as the macadamia nuts. the pine nuts were not a hit. the date honey in the plastic shot glass was a complete mystery and a total miss. i totally, overate the candied fruits and was afraid that i might go into binge mode. i kept eying the 'mike and ike' jelly bean like candies. in the end, i resisted.

later that evening, zvi ordered a pizza. at 11:00 p.m. before "american idol" began, i ate the cheese off of 4 slices of pizza. i gave some of the crust to the dogs. i had a coffee and ate a couple of figs. a little while later, i felt really nauseous and was afraid that i might be sick. i got up this morning and drank a cup of water and ran to my yoga class. when i got back, i had the rest of the chestnut soup. i forgot that it was on the stove, until i smelled something burning. the pot got burnt but i was able to salvage a nice sized bowl of soup. it tasted much richer today. i am trying very hard to stick to the diet plan this week. usually, i go on a 3 day 'bender' after all of the tu b'shvat goodies, but not this time! my weight loss is beginning to show.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Muffins Flopped

it's 10:00 p.m. on thursday night in the holy city of zefat. i have just left the kitchen after a 9 hour stint. i can't do another thing! i just made 2 awful dozen of blueberry and cranberry muffins. first of all, i decided to make muffins instead of the usual cupcakes that are always so good. i used oranges from the tree for the first batch but they weren't sweet and the cold pressed canola oil was bitter. i also over mixed the batter. that's okay when you make cupcakes but definitely a no no when you make muffins, hence the flopped muffins.

i saw some bananas in gal's freezer, so i'll make some banana cupcakes in the morning. i threw in a batch of carob brownies but they also tasted on the bitter side. i just took them out of the oven. they're nice and dry and burnt on top. yummy! well, i guess i'm off my game with my baking today. at least the main dishes came out really tasty.

i made a gooey, chinese cherry, ginger and soy sauce chicken for shabbat afternoon. for the evening meal i made a thai coconut, cashew, tomato and lychee chicken stew. it really is delicious and all the different ingredients actually meshed. i made a morracan style tsimis with walnuts, dried prunes, peaches, and apricots. the secret here is sauteed onion and cinnamon. i also made the poached lemon and turmeric fish fillets. unfortunately, i sampled everything i baked and cooked today. there goes the diet!

i cooked the beets, and cooked up some barley and fried onions. i made the chestnut soup but had to compensate for not having enough chestnuts. i doubled up on the carrots and celery and finally threw in a box of mushrooms. i didn't have any almond liqueur so i used scotch and some almond extract. i used rice milk for the broth and it was a bit sweet. all in all, it was tasty. i shouldn't have put it in the blender as recommended, because the color and consistency is not very nice to look at. tomorrow, i'll buy some cream and add it to the top and sprinkle some toasted almonds on it.

i just burnt the fruit bars that i left in the oven too long. oh well! maybe i'll make some oatmeal cookies tomorrow. i have to straighten up the kitchen and wash the floors and make up five rooms for the guests. i have to make the mango salsa, the red and green cabbage salads, the fennel and pistachio salad, the carrot and kumquat salad, the spinach and orange salad, the rice and a plain salad for zvi. i also should make some tuna salad and potato salad for the third meal on saturday. i'm losing steam. i guess it's best to call it a night. i got up early this morning and cabbed it to yoga but i did walk back.

tomorrow's another day. hopefully, the salads will be more successful than the baked goods. i wish you all a good shabbat and a happy tu b'shvat!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Night

it's 7:00 p.m. in the cold and holy city of zefat. it feels like snow. it was a good day to be indoors. i got up early this morning and took a very hot shower to try to warm up the old body. the house is really uncomfortable. i guess it's okay to just sit on the couch under the comforter huddled with the two dogs under me. but to do the dishes or cook, is really pushing it. i have two sinks full of dishes right now, but i can't face the cold in the kitchen. i'm planning on staying home tomorrow so i guess i'll catch up on the dishes between babysitting for sahar.

i went to the old age center this morning and everyone in the memory loss group seemed to remember me despite my two week absence. i was afraid that i might get the boot because i missed so much time, but everyone greeted me with sincere warmth. i guess being a 'people pleaser', i'm always on the defensive. the head of the unit was busy showering some of the group today, so i was left alone in the room for a while with the group. i did my best to keep up the conversations with everyone.

my favorite person in the group, murray, was at home today. he's the elderly man from brooklyn who reminds me so much of my dad. there is an elderly sephardi man who is a real character too and he also reminds me of my dad. one of the men, who is recovering from a stroke, started a conversation with me on his own. when he heard me telling one of the ladies that we lived in the same neighborhood, he informed me that he also lived in that neighborhood. he was spot on! as they say in england. a little while later, the occupational therapist tried to get him to name the colors of the clothes pins but he was absolutely, stumped. i tried to let her know that he was very clear when he engaged me in a conversation, but i don't think she believed me.

the morning was moving along very slowly and one of the ladies, who never participates in any of the activities, kept saying it was time to go home. she had absolutely no patience to be there. earlier on, she actually smiled at me and seemed in a good mood for a change. the last time i saw her she scowled at me the entire morning. when i tried to hug her she pulled away as if i had tried to kill her.

a russian lady came again to play the electric organ for the group. i was left alone to sing for the group for a while. i actually felt like dancing. i clapped my hands through the entire concert and encouraged everyone else to do so, too. one of the ladies played the cymbals, while two others played tambourines, and the stroke patient played the xylophone. the angry lady actually looked like she was enjoying herself for a bit. the romanian lady who lives alone and is seemingly withdrawn, clapped her hands with me. i actually enjoyed myself.

i helped serve them their lunch and by then it was time to go home. i thanked them for having me and promised to come back next week. i then ran to town to pick up a package for my daughter in law. i bought a large coffee and walked over to the unemployment office, which recently opened up after a month's strike. i went to the local grocery to buy some pomegranates but they didn't have any. so i walked to the fruit store on the other side of town and bought three huge ones. i'm finally set for tu b'shvat.

i'm planning to do a seder on friday night which includes drinking 4 glasses of wine or grape juice like we do on pesach. the only difference is that i'll be using tiny wine glasses or shot glasses for this event. for a change, we will make kiddush on white grape juice or wine but we'll have our usual challah afterwards. we then will sample the fruits for which the land of israel is praised. that includes dates, figs, olives, pomegranates, grapes, and barley. we will then sample some citrons, apples, walnuts, almonds, carobs, and pears. there will be an additional 18 fruits incorporated in the meal itself and the dessert. yes, all together, we will be sampling 30 fruits.

i'm planning on making a chestnut soup, an orange and mango salsa, a fennel and pistachio salad, a thai lychee coconut chicken dish and a szechuan cashew chicken dish. there will also be lemon and garlic poached fish fillets, a carrot tsimis with dried apricots, prunes and peaches, humus with pine nuts, a red cabbage and pecan slaw, an avocado and lemon spread, and a salad of cherries and macadamia nuts. i'm also thinking of making a spinach salad with sliced oranges and red onions. i'm going to make a non gluten coconut carob souffle for dessert. i'm hoping to bake some carob brownies and blueberry muffins for shabbat morning. and i'm thinking about making a batch of oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies, too. after all, chocolate does come from trees.

i have to babysit tomorrow so we'll see how much i can accomplish. at 8:30 p.m. my son asked me to watch the baby as he walked his wife to the bus stop on the next street. that was 3 1/2 hours ago and i just finished my babysitting stint fo the night.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Things Done

a couple of ladies from the upcoming purim play, just left with a few bags of props and costumes from my private purim collection. my 'queen esther' dress is a white, one size fits all, 'moo moo peasant dress, that i bought many years ago, on the midrahov, for yom kippur. i added a good deal of lace, beading and gold trim to the dress a few years ago, for a play. it has been used many times already, in purim plays and about three times individually, by women, who wanted to dress up as queen esther for purim. apparently, it is a good luck segula, to dress up as the righteous, queen esther. i can't remember if i've ever taken the plunge and worn the dress, myself.

once on a shidduch, during a lull in the conversation, i casually mentioned, that i performed in purim plays. the man suddenly excited, asked if i was going to be queen esther. when i told him that i was playing zeresh, the wife of the wicked haman, he asked why i couldn't play queen esther. he just couldn't get his head around my not playing the queen, and needless to say, we parted ways.

i have a lovely, beige and gold caftan for the persian queen vashti, which is perfect, for a full figured, middle aged actress. i threw in my long length, 'cat woman' halloween wig with a very long tiger tail for the show. i also handed over an assortment of middle eastern head scarves that might work. i didn't make a list of the things that i lent out because i just assumed, that i'd get them all back. who knows? i'm not going to lose any sleep over it. alas, it appears, that my acting career is over. not to worry! i am planning to make a grand entrance, dressed up in my finest persian like outfit on the night of the performance. perhaps i can be the ticket lady. i am totally, into street acting and live theatre.

yesterday, i left the house at 9:00 a.m. and returned at 3:00 p.m. i caught my yoga class for an hour, and got a ride into town. i went to the bank for a letter for the national insurance office, but i was told by the bank clerk that i didn't need a letter. we shall see! i then walked over to the national insurance office and waited for a letter from them for the city real estate tax office. the bank was empty, which was pretty eerie. i ran into a grocery store to see if they had any fresh carobs and i saw some. that little voice in my head told me to buy some. i didn't heed the voice, because i figured that they'd have some at the fruit store.

i didn't wait very long, for my letter from the national insurance office. i was feeling pretty lucky! i stopped into the bakery for some mini whole wheat pitas for shabbat and made my way back to the city tax and water office. since i was already there, i decided to deal with my, out of whack, water bill. after being told by some office flunky, that the manager could not deal with me, i held my ground and entered her office. after some time, i finally understood, that i had been fined, quite dearly for water overuse. the bill itself, was only for 500 shekels. the fine, however, was for 900 shekels. apparently, i was fined for using more water than the allotment for four people. unfortunately, i had an additional five people living downstairs during the summer, but i never handed in copies of their passports, so hence the fine.

the summer tenants are long gone and that short term rental ended less than friendly. i had to accept the fine as a heavenly, intervention. perhaps, i had been less than fair with the renters and heaven was taking back it's cut. when i tried to get my real estate tax lowered, i was told by another clerk, that i needed an additional letter from the national insurance office. as it was too late to return to that office, i simply paid the water fine in 6 'not so easy' payments and proceeded on to the fruit store to finish my tu b'shvat shopping.

i got the chickens for shabbat, and everything else i need for the seder except for pomegranates. i had to go to another store to get the carobs because i hadn't listened to my inner voice in the first store. i bought a couple of adorable flannel sleepers for sahar, on my way to the fruit store. i caught a cab home and stopped off at the pharmacy to buy a cold air steamer for upstairs. the baby was hoarse and i figured that he needed some steam and eucalyptus oil. as soon as i arrived home, we had a hail storm and torrential rain fall. i was pretty wet as i gathered up all my packages and made my way into the house. it felt good to be home. i had been lucky to have escaped the rain for 6 hours. later on that evening, we had a storm that sounded like the end of the world. the dogs were lined up to go downstairs to the bomb shelter.

it is freezing today. i am so grateful to be inside. we are having heavy downpours which are so, very much, needed. my son is busy at work, translating a wine manual from english into hebrew and has called a couple of times for help. i am so proud of him!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Dogs

i lounged about today because i was still feeling ill. i managed to get to the local super to buy a chicken to make soup. i think i will be alone for shabbat tomorrow. the kids are going out to gal's family for the weekend and the weather is too harsh for me to walk there and return. so by making a pot of soup for the kids, i have what to eat tomorrow night. i bought some whole wheat rolls and i'll boil some eggs and string beans for lunch.

i was watching an interesting movie and drifted off to sleep. you might say that it couldn't have been all that interesting if i fell asleep. i was awakened to the sound of someone in front of the house. my neighbor came to show me a huge puppy. i saw it earlier today and had to be very stoic and walk away. he or she is adorable and will be a really big doggie. i was tempted to put it in the machson until i find a home for it. but unfortunately, that entailed dragging out the huge crib from the machson in the rain and shlepping it into the house. i just don't have that kind of stamina right now. i tried to call a friend who was actually looking for a big puppy, but her phone was out of order.

as it is, the three little dogs have been peeing all over the house for days. and i am at the end of my rope with all the doggie bickering too. if i had a grant from the states i would definitely, open up a doggie shelter or hostel. my dream was always to convert the downstairs into a doggie motel. i have the patience but not the clientele. i can't seem to find human renters, or lodgers these days. i answer all the ads in the local zefat online newsletter, but people keep on passing on me.

i got to speak with my brother last night. he is really enjoying his recent weight loss of 60 pounds and is having a ball shopping for trendy clothes. he lost a pound for each year of his life. he sounded really lighter too. once i lose an additional 5 pounds, hopefully, i'll fit into some of my clothes again. i really don't have any desire to buy new clothes. i have always preferred to shop at second hand or thrift shops. i hate dressing rooms with those bright lights and horrible mirrors that accentuate all of one's body flaws. i have never enjoyed shopping for clothes. and for me, trying on wigs and bras is nothing less than traumatic. i do have a knowledge of the designer names and i can always find something for little money.

i would love to rent the downstairs for pesach. i should start advertising now. i assume that most people prefer hotels or yeshivas with catering. i cook very simply on pesach. i do not use spices except for salt and peppercorns. i use a lot of lemon and wine and oranges for flavor. i bought a new toaster oven so i might get to bake this year. i don't use matzah meal either. i do use potato starch and prepared ground nuts. i'm a renegade chabadnik!

i just found out that a group of women i know, are putting on a purim show. it's a very clever tape of the megillah and the women mime the story. i wasn't asked to perform in it. i guess i'm off the zefat "a" list of actors. i was asked to help with costumes. i probably have all the costumes that are needed. i have been doing this for many years. i don't know what i'll do this year for purim. and of course, right after purim comes pesach. i won't be painting this year or using too much bleach. hopefully, i won't get another case of facial paralysis this year.

tu b'shvat is finally next shabbat. i have to start organizing my seder. i'm still revising my menu and script. i hope to get caught up this shabbat with all the psalms that i didn't get to read this week. i'm really looking forward to resting all shabbat long, alone. i wish you all a good shabbat now!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Night

it's almost 10:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. my nose isn't running and i have finally stopped coughing. but still, i don't feel well. i'm heady and i feel out of whack. i can feel that my breathing is a bit labored. i am not a happy camper. i guess that i may sound like a hypochondriac, but i'm really not. i'm just feeling worn out.

the news of our good friend, who we visited just a few weeks ago, isn't very good. the women called a special 'amen' evening tonight to say the various blessings on food and wine in her merit. we need a real miracle for her recovery! unfortunately, i was not able to be a part of the seudah. i have decided to stay in until the weather is warmer and definitely, drier. i am thrilled to pieces for the past three days of heavy rain but i am not stepping out into it.

i babysat for sahar while his mom went to the indoor pool this afternoon. the poor girl was going stir crazy, having been in all week. she was hesitant about going out in the pouring rain, so i gave her the cab fare. 'cabin fever' was definitely setting in and she needed to get out. i also decided to run to the store this afternoon. it was very foggy and grey but i didn't see any rain drops. i threw on my coat and tried to make a mad dash for it. but, as soon as i got off the steps, i got rained on pretty hard. i ran right back into the house and changed my socks and head scarf.

i stayed with the baby for about 4 hours. zvi came home from work early, but he's basically, useless, with the kid. i hadn't really played with sahar for the past two days, and i hardly recognized him. they really do change from day to day. he seemed so much bigger and darker. he looked like he had grown more hair, too. he was quite friendly and didn't want to sleep. he also didn't want to eat. he was very content to hold his musical star and try to shove it into his mouth. i warmed up a bottle of 'mommy' milk but he was ambivalent. he, actually, screamed like he was in pain after having a few sips. i thought for a moment, that i may have burnt him but after feeling the milk, i knew that wasn't the case.

i stayed upstairs for a while and chatted with gal's mom. afterwards, i came downstairs and made some french fries and vegetarian franks for sahar's parents. i found a portion of vegetable soup in the freezer and heated it up for me. it was really delicious. i also found, what i thought might be a portion of cooked fish, but it turned out to be spicy meatballs. no one was really in the mood for beef so the dogs got a treat. i really have to start labeling the frozen meals! i arranged some really, yummy, multi grain rye bread with avocado to have with my soup and was just about to eat it when i lost control of the plate and dropped it on the floor. the glass broke all over the avocado and i had to rush to clean it up before cloey tried to eat it.

all three dogs don't want to go out in the rain so i had a really 'pishy' hallway for the past few days. i threw bleach water on it twice, but it irritated my bad eye. so tonight, i only used the regular floor detergent. i caught the white fluffy dog chewing the mahogany wood finish off my dining room chairs this evening. how fun!

everything has been put on hold this week. i just heard that the unemployment office is still on strike. so the city water department, the national insurance company, and the bank will just have to wait until zelda is back on her feet next week.

today is my brother's hebrew birthday. he turns 60. his gentile birthday is on saturday. i tried to call him this morning but couldn't reach him. i will try once more before i go to sleep. i hope i can connect with him before saturday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


i have really missed blogging all week. i have also missed connecting with my blog friends and family, too. i wanted to post something on thursday because i was feeling a little more energetic. unfortunately, we had an all day electric outage problem in my neighborhood and i didn't risk turning on the computer. i spent a lot of time on thursday with my grandson and managed to do most of my cooking for shabbat. i wasn't feeling all that great on friday but i still washed my floors with a fair amount of bleach. three dogs is just too doggie for my sense of ascetics. i bought the challah and looked all around the neighborhood for some roses to pick. there were some really beautiful ones across the street but i wasn't feeling up to conversing with my neighbors. a little while later, my friend michal, showed up with a handful of huge and very lush roses from her neighbor's garden.

she went upstairs to see if gal needed a hand with the baby and i went about setting the table. my friend showed up around 3:00 p.m. and i ran out to greet her at the local bus stand. i gave her a healthy snack because she is on a really strict diet. she looked beautiful! the extra weight looked good on her face. however, i fully understand her frustration with carrying an extra 20 pounds. we had a good chat for a while and she went downstairs to get ready for shabbos. i scrambled to poach some fish and made an individual portion for her without any oil. i had bought a variety of fresh herbs for a change, and all my salads were extra tasty this week. i also made a variety of salads without oil for my friend and a chicken breast braised in lemon juice with green squash.

i felt really ill on friday night. after having a dry cough all week long, i developed an infection and couldn't stop blowing my noise. what a host! although, i tried hard to keep up with the conversation, i was definitely not on my game. my son was in a good mood and treated us women to a medley of shabbos songs. it was really a lovely evening. i woke up at 5:00 a.m. on saturday morning, gasping to breathe. it felt as if my throat had closed. i thought about my options to get to the hospital, if needed. i drank a hot cup of water with honey and lemon but it made me nauseous. i didn't dare lie down again and simply fell back to sleep propped up on the sofa.

at 8:00 a.m. everyone came into the kitchen for hot drinks and cake. i got up and joined everyone. i felt simply wretched. zvi went off to shul and i took the strawberry cheese pie, that i had managed to make, out of the freezer to defrost. i even had a piece. it was so light and creamy. the cold cream felt so good going down my burning throat. it was the first real sugar and carbs that i had in about 2 months except for the morsel of challah that i ate on shabbat. i was so uncomfortable, that i didn't rally care about my diet. once again, i lost my voice. i ate some dried fruit and tasted the lemon cake made with white sugar and white flour. how scandalous! i picked out the raisins from the cake and the lemony, sugary taste was heavenly.

i decided that i urgently needed to take some medicine. i took a couple of homeopathic doses of flu remedy. i was achy and feverish and my head and throat both throbbed. it was a relatively warm day, and yet i was freezing, and had the heat blasting. within a couple of hours, i was spitting up green mucous and my nose was running like a faucet, non stop. i officially, had a real infection now.

even though it was a special shabbat, i was unable to say my morning prayers. i sat downstairs in the sun with michal and gal and baby, sahar. the dogs were also enjoying the sun and started racing in the grass. i excused myself and went upstairs to set the table and get the food set up. zvi came home rather late, because he had stayed in shul for kiddush. needless to say, he wasn't really up for another meal.

just as we sat down to eat, a young couple came over to visit with their two small kids. i kind of scared them off with my flu. a moment later, gal's mom showed up with three of her sisters and the two brothers. my kitchen was in shambles. there were dirty dishes and cups and pots all over the counters. no one wanted to eat so i took out drinks and ices and dorito chips. it was too hot for them to sit in the back yard. i took out the rummy cube board game but the kids opted for books and of course, the baby, their favorite toy of all.

a little while later, her married sister and husband showed up. they walked over an hour to reach my neighborhood. what a gathering we were! the kids and grandmother left before 3:00 p.m. i escorted them out of the neighborhood wearing my bedroom slippers. when i got home i was feeling woozy. i took more flu remedy and got the third meal ready for everyone. i ate a bunch of greasy chicken, which was a real mistake. when shabbat ended i got up to wash the dishes. i really felt weak. i stopped when the men came home from shul. i couldn't do any more. my body shut down for the night. i sat down at the table with the ladies and drank some hot mint tea.

my daughter-in-law came downstairs a little while later, and did all the dishes and pots. i am truly blessed! my friends and i schmoozed until 11:00 p.m. and everyone went to sleep. i turned on the television and watched "american idol" until 1:00 a.m. the entire time, i blew my noise and coughed up phlegm.

i got up this morning at 7:00 a.m. and decided to try another remedy to boost the immune system. i think it helped because my throat isn't burning and my nose is running clear again. my friends went off to town without me. i am not getting out of bed today except for blogging. sorry for the graphic details.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still Sick

well it's 9:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat and i'm still sick. my throat hurts a lot more today and i'm really achy all over. my daughter-in-law came down with a version of this virus and of course, she ran off to the doctor for antibiotics. i made a huge vat of jewish penicillin yesterday, more commonly known as, chicken soup. it seemed to really help gal, but i'm not sure it helped me. perhaps, my caring for the baby all day, is what really helped her. i have to admit that 'safta zelda' was not at her best yesterday. i was so mean. i wasn't really up for playing with him and i had to keep my talking with him to a minimum. every time he yawned, i put him to bed.

i somehow, managed to go for a walk in the sunshine with him. i also, kept him on my lap while we enjoyed the backyard for an hour. i was afraid to kiss him because i'm so infectious. but of course, i couldn't stop myself from nuzzling the back of his neck. while he slept, i made a mad dash downstairs and did at least three jumbo loads of laundry. i also started cooking for tonight's shabbat dinner. as a matter of fact, i had him on the counter next to me, in his baby seat, while i prepared the chicken soup. he was chirping away while i cut up the veggies. we also sat together on the rocking chair and listened to jewish music videos for a while. i guess he didn't suffer all that much.

in the evening, his safta miriam came over. i should say came 'limping' over. she was practically crippled. she's suffering from a back disc problem but that didn't stop her from putting in eight hours of very physical work in the gan's kitchen today. despite her pain, she managed to cuddle and hold and talk to sahar for hours. he was absolutely hyper active. you could see that he had really missed that sort of interaction all day long. look, i did what i could. that included, going down to the back yard at night in the cold, to pick some lemons, tangerines and oranges for gal's family.

i gave miriam some arnica but i'm not sure that she'll use it. i should also take a remedy for my throat. i don't know why i have been so passive this week. the vet did come and give the white pooch a shot and a pill for the worms. she also brought over a bottle of fish oil supplements to add to his food. i probably should take some myself.

the house is absolutely freezing. i'm trying so hard to make due without heat, but on shabbat, i always turn it on. especially now, i must heat for the baby and gal, who is under the weather. i'm also expecting a guest this shabbat. i'm so sorry that i'm not up to par. i hope my voice will come back by the time she arrives. she's on a special diet, similar to my own, so cooking for her isn't that much of a challenge.

I've already cooked the chicken and made the potatoes and boiled eggs. i made a chopped liver from wednesday's liver and i threw in a peppery noodle kugel. i made a small amount of potato salad and i baked a small white flour lemon cake. i have chicken soup left over from last night and it always tastes better the next day. i'll poach the fish fillets and broil some chicken cutlets for my friend. i'll make some mashed guacamole salad and a tossed lettuce salad. i bought a huge bag of frozen strawberries and a ready made graham cracker pie crust. i just have to decide if i want to bake a custard like pie or go with a frozen mousse type dessert. what the heck, i'm not eating it, so i guess i should go for the whipped cream version.

i have been very frustrated all week because i think that the local cable company cancelled my soap, "the days of our lives". i couldn't find it all week long. this just happens to be a 40 year old habit of mine. if any of my israeli readers knows if and when this is on, please send me a comment. thanks and shabbat shalom! and a good new month for all! i'm on my way to the local super to buy the challahs and whipped cream.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sore Throat

i woke up early this morning with a sore throat. it was rather hard to swallow. my head also ached and for just one moment, i thought that perhaps i had the mumps. in spite of my symptoms, i managed to eat way too much today. i don't know what happened to me. there wasn't enough food to shovel in. i kept staring at the left over chocolate in the fridge and imagining a good old binge. a friend sent me a chart that correlates specific food cravings to the missing trace elements in the body. for instance, a craving for chocolate could be your body's need for magnesium or protein. so, i opted for a poached fish fillet and a plate of broccoli, string beans, and navy beans.

i took sahar with me to pick up the mail. it was really warm and quite sunny this morning. he fell asleep in his carriage and i fell asleep in my chair. cloey the pincher, got into a fight with the small white male dog ( he remains nameless) and woke us both up. i wanted to put sahar on a blanket on the grass, but he was not interested and most crabby. instead, i returned him to his teenage mom.

i went back to my t.v. couch and tried to take a nap. there wasn't a decent thing on to watch. i went back upstairs and sat outside on the porch with sahar for a while. at 4:00 p.m. i officially "clocked" in as the babysitter. he kept himself amused for about an hour. i saw that he was getting tired, so i put him down for a nap. his parents called to check up on him and i reassured them both, that he was just fine. he didn't seem to want to eat and i hated to waste the frozen mommy milk . i figured that he could hold out until his mommy came home. gal had to rush back out to the dentist because her cap fell out. once again, i put him down because he was crabby and tired.

when his parents came home, i made a dinner for them. i poached some amnon fish fillets and fried up some chips. there was a bit of spaghetti left over, so i added some teriyaki sauce and red pepper flakes.

my throat is still sore. my sister says that there is a virus going around. i don't want to go to the old age center like this tomorrow. it really hurts to talk. gal also needs me to watch sahar while she does errands. i played with him a lot today, but didn't talk that much with him. i think he noticed that i was clamming up on him. i actually, lost my voice for a while, in the afternoon. it's only 9:00 p.m. and i'm totally, exhausted. i guess i will call it a day.

i just spoke with the vet and she sounded terrible. i didn't understand the entire conversation but someone in her family died and she needs to travel to Romania. she asked if i could get the dog down to her place tomorrow. normally, i could manage it, but i'll be busy with the baby all morning long. if she doesn't come by tomorrow, my son will just have to deal with it at the end of the week and go to another vet. end of story. my head is sore!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


i jumped out of bed this morning at 8:00 a.m. i had some coffee and a yogurt and nuts and half of my pomegranate. i quickly got dressed and ran off to my yoga class. i really didn't feel up to it but i went anyway. i got back in time to walk over to the neighborhood clinic with my daughter- in- law to get the baby his second vaccination. he was so fussy after the first one that i dreaded going through it again. the nurse was from the 'old' school of medicine and gave gal a lecture against breast feeding on demand. it seems that she believes a four month old baby should wait at least three to four hours between feedings. she also said that the baby should learn to adjust to a schedule and told gal to hold off nursing for another two hours. as soon as we got down the street near the park sahar started crying. thank goodness, gal fed him. he was still upset and wouldn't be quiet in his carriage, so gal held him while i pushed the empty stroller.

when we got home i made a nutritional lunch for gal. i'm on a mission of late to feed her good, substantial, food. i made whole wheat spaghetti and used up my can of diced tomatoes.(shachshuka sauce). i also cooked up a small sweet potato and poached two fish fillets. i figured she'd be doing a lot more nursing after the baby's vaccination. on friday morning, i made her a small molasses cake with apricots and cashews. i also bought plenty of dried apricots and prunes for her. i'm also trying to get her iron up to par.

gal asked me to sit in the late afternoon. i agreed to stay home because i was waiting for the vet to come over. i put the baby in his carriage and took him outside for a little stroll. he was absolutely hysterical and wouldn't calm down. i cradled him in my arms and rocked him, but he only cried more. when i stood up and walked with him in an upright position, he settled down a bit. i simply, didn't have the strength to keep it up. after all, the boy is over 15 pounds already! out of desperation, i sat down in my rocking chair with him in my arms, and started to rock. i was preparing to put on a music video for him when i noticed that he had fallen asleep. i placed him back in the stroller and he slept soundly for about three hours. i was beginning to worry because i couldn't remember the last time that he slept that long. i checked up on him several times to make sure that he was still breathing. when i finally saw his hand move, i felt more relaxed. i was getting ready to wake him up when i heard him stir. before he could utter a sound, i had him in my arms and back up the stairs to his mother. he seemed really mellow. he was chattering away and kicking up his heels in the middle of her bed.

the vet never showed. i'll have to call her tomorrow. my sister called to let me know that my niece has the mumps. for a moment i panicked and got scared. i was with her yesterday and i thought that i might have compromised my grandson's health by carrying the disease. i ran back to 'google' to read up on the mumps. apparently, everyone born before 1956, when they gave the first vaccination against mumps, is immune. how that works exactly, is beyond me because i never had the mumps. i can't imagine that i could survive, having them now. they don't seem to vaccinate babies against the mumps until the age of 15 months. they claim that babies don't get the mumps before the age of 2. who really knows? i just hope that my married niece isn't pregnant because it can harm the fetus. anyway, it's all in the hands of the Lord.

i heard from a good friend, who is in the country now, that she will be coming up to zefat for shabbat. we have been corresponding for years and haven't seen each other for over a decade. i can't wait for the reunion!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tu B'Shvat Menu

although it is still about 3 weeks away, i have more or less chosen my menu for a shabbat meal which will incorporate thirty types of fruits and nuts. * we're using only nuts and fruits that grow on trees.*

waldorf salad
green cabbage and pomegranates salad
cranberry and orange relish
red cabbage salad with apples and toasted pecans
chumus with pine nuts
mango salsa
marinated figs with toasted hazelnut on bed of spinach leaves
cream of chestnut soup
avocado and lemon spread
whole wheat couscous salad with macadamia nuts and cranberries
rice with almonds and raisins
fennel and pistashio salad
lettuce salad with cherries and oranges
stewed carots and dried peach,apricot,prune and persimmon tsmis
lemon garlic fish fillets
coconut chicken with lychee and cashew
coconut carob soufle
candied estrog
poached pears in red wine
assorted baked goods:
raisin oatmeal cookies
carob brownies
molasses apricot bars
blueberry muffins

if you want any of the recipes write to :

Saturday Night

just got home from the sephardi family in canaan. shabbos ended at 6:00 p.m. and it's now 9:30 p.m. don't ask me what took so long. the kids were all over the place doing all kinds of things. gal was in the kitchen scrubbing and shining all the pots and pans for a long while. the boys were hammering nails into things and attaching batteries and making electric objects. zvi was sitting on the couch in a daze. some of the girls found an electric shaver in their mother's bedroom and were doing their legs in the boys' room. miriam was on the phone and i was drinking coffee and just taking it all in. two of the sisters were fighting over the baby.

my grandson absolutely doesn't relate to me in this crowd. i don't get a minute with him being that i live with him during the week. everyone gets a turn to handle him except his father and me. his 19 year old mother is only too happy to have her family take care of him all day long. last night the sephardi grandfather gave him a lick from his ices. no matter how hard i try to explain the dangers of sugar for babies, i am ignored. i am the silent minority. i think that someone was actually thilnking about giving him a sip of cola today.

last night i stopped in to visit my niece after dinner with the clan. she sprained her ankle on thursday. my sister called to ask me to bring over my mom's cane for her. i didn't think that would help her so much. i did have a small office chair on wheels that was very handy in the past when my mom couldn't walk, so i sent it over by cab. i wanted to check in on her and bring over some chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. my nephew was quite thrilled to see me and crawled right over to greet me. i played with him for a while and then made my way home.

i woke up very early this morning with a headache and my eye was bothering me too. it was unseasonably warm. i had a coffee and some cashews and half a pomegranate. i'm hooked on them. they are really healthy and aid in lowering cholesterol. the only problem is that the skin turns my hands black. i have to learn to use gloves. i set out for my nieces' at 9:00 a.m. i wanted to bring her baby wipes ( she was down to her last one the night before) and help her with the baby. i think i got them all up a little too early. we got the baby dressed and i took him over to my sister's on the next street. i sat in the sun with him and then called up to my sister's apartment. luckily, she heard me and came down. she was in a hurry to get to the shul for a bris. i was the one scheppling the carriage up hill and trying to keep up the pace.

we made it to the back of the shul for the bris. i didn't see or hear anything because the baby was screaming. we then went around to the ladies' section on the top. my sister took her grandson and i started to daven. i heard another woman's voice with the baby and looked up. he was having a ball with her. i managed to catch up with the prayers even though i really couldn't make out all the words from upstairs in the women's section. a little later when he started to cry, my sister told me that he needed to go home and nurse. i complied with her wishes and put him back in the carriage. as i was pushing the carriage back to my niece's, i asked myself why i was designated to leave shul and take him home. after he nursed for a while, my niece asked if i could take him back outside so that she could finish reading the book of psalms. once again i complied, and took him for a short walk until he fell asleep.

i sat outside while he snoozed and read psalms and finished my prayers. my niece came back from shul but i stayed outside until he woke up. when my sister came back from shul, the four of us women had our lunch together. as soon as i finished eating. i walked over to the in-laws for a third meal. i realized then that i hadn't drank for seven hours. i was beginning to feel faint. my sister stopped in for a moment with the baby to see my grandson and then she left. she wouldn't even stay for a coffee. i made up the excuse that the baby needed to get home and nurse right away. and i took my place at the table and ate another meal.

gal's mother gave me a huge bag of leftovers for the dogs. as i was feeding them, i started to eat most of the food, myself. it was a chicken binge! i'll weigh myself in the morning and see what the damage is. i guess i was just really tired and a bit dehydraded. i'm feeling a bit uncomfortable right now.

i hope i'll make it to yoga in the morning. gal is taking sahar for another vaccination tomorrow morning. this week ought to be quite interesting! i've been asked to babysit in the afternoon for him. it's supposed to be hot again tomorrow. i spent the entire morning on friday, washing and bleaching out the apartment. it smelled so doggie that i couldn't stand it a minute longer. the bleach was not such a good idea for my palsied face. the vet needs to deworm the new dog, give him nutritional supplements and a shot against doggie diseases tomorrow afternoon. whoopie do! and a shavuah tov!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Family Get Together

this morning i heard footsteps and jumped out of bed to see gal leaving with the baby. it seems that she had a 9:30 a.m appointment at the hospital with an endocrinologist to check her thyroid. thank goodness the problem repaired itself. but at 9:00 a.m she was waiting downstairs to be picked up by her mom. i didn't think that the hospital was the safest place for a healthy little baby. gal said that her mother would take the baby to her home. i tried my best to explain where the clinic was situated. luckily, her mother's friend worked there, and 'pulled' some strings for her. i felt guilty all morning, that i didn't rush to get dressed and accompany gal to the hospital. it turned out that her mom stayed with her the entire time.

as her mother was driving away, she invited me to come over at noon for a family celebration. gal's cousin turned three and was getting his first haircut in meron. the family was coming to zefat afterwards, for a festive meal. i quickly drank my coffee and went downstairs to the store to buy chocolate to make some fancy shapes. i had a new chocolate mold that said " i'm a 3 yr. old boy" in hebrew. it was in the shape of a rattle with little scissors on it. the only chocolate that i could find with a good heksher, was a block of bakers' bitter sweet chocolate. i had never used it before. the instructions said to add some oil and use a double boiler to melt it. it already had sugar in it so i decided to try it.

i then stopped into a local toy store to buy a pencil case for the birthday boy. i bought some colored markers to put inside the case. i had some religious articles stickers for a boy and threw them into the gift bag. i also threw in some left over candies from zvi's birthday party. by the time i returned home from the store, it seemed too late to fool around with the chocolate molds.

as i entered the house, miriam called to say that they were just leaving the hospital and that gal was fine. they were on their way to the outdoor market to pick up a few things for the meal. she told me to come over around 1:30 p.m. since i had more time now, i started to make the chocolates. at first, the mixture looked thinner than usual, but it poured out nicely. it froze well and the shapes came out easily and were really clear. i made the entire hebrew alphabet, a dozen 'mazel tovs', a dozen religious shapes, and about twelve chocolate rattles. there wasn't one chocolate left over with this crowd.

the family didn't arrive until 5:00 p.m. i helped miriam peel a sink full of potatoes. i think it was 15 pounds of potatoes for just one meal. as i peeled, she cut them up for roasting. she also put up a pot of chicken legs. while she was putting the potatoes into the oven, i went to play with sahar. he acted as if he didn't know me. i called him a 'snob' and went back into the kitchen. miriam had already made a vat of spaghetti and was making salads. she then got a phone call to make a cake. so she took out her hand mixer and started to make a birthday cake, totally non plused. she is one amazing lady! she ushered us all inside to start to eat.

while her eight kids and me and another five kids and their mom sat down to eat, miriam started to fry chicken cutlets. zvi showed up at the same time as his brother-in-law but they waited to eat. after the women and children finished eating, the men came in for their meal. we all crammed into the boy's room to hang out. miriam set up the next round of food and brought out another batch of cutlets. i don't think she ate anything the entire day. miriam had to go to her daughter's party at school and said goodbye and left.

i slipped into the kitchen and washed some dishes. the house was trashed from all the little kids. they were actually, all very sweet children. they were aged 6, 5, 3 1 1/2 and 4 months old. the family left at 8:00 p.m. and gal and zvi went home. i went over to visit my niece. i hadn't seen them in nearly a month. i had a few outfits for menachem mendel from the gift package that my sister ann had sent from california. he was fast asleep and his parents were just sitting down to supper. they asked me to join them but i declined. i was still full from the dinner and i definately, needed to walk home. it was pretty mild outside.

i'm still revamping my tu b'shvat menu and searching the markets for certain fruits. i gave up on finding non roasted pistashios. perhaps, i'll hit the health food store tomorrow. i still need some carob powder and apricots. and i guess i should try to square things at the water department. i just remembered that i want to go to yoga aat 9:00 a.m.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I assume by now that you are all recovered from your new year's libations. I got a call yesterday to come to the old age center to volunteer in the small group of memory loss and demented elderly. You may recall that I missed the 2 week training course because I didn't check my mail in time.

I got up early this morning in spite of having had a rough night. I drank some coffee and ate a hand full of almonds and caught a cab into town. I believe there were ten in the group. Half of the group were female and the other half were male. There were two people in wheelchairs and the rest could walk with the aid of canes and a walker.

One man was formerly from Brooklyn and he reminded me very much of my father. I don't know if he is recovering from a stroke or is suffering from memory loss, but we had a lot to discuss together. There was a lovely woman who was born in Romania. She used to have a knitting shop in town. She must have been very beautiful in her time. I was supposed to show her pictures and ask her what they were. At first she was impatient and didn't want to play along. Afer a while, she was compliant and we had a nice conversaton. The rest of the group were Sephardim from Moracco. One man lives in my neighborhood with his son's family. One woman sat and knitted while another did arts and crafts with tiny pins and sequins. Another woman did needle point.

There was one woman, also from my neighborhood, who refused to do anthing but sit and scowl. The other ladies did their exercizes and played cymbols and tambourines during the organ recital. But this one lady wouldn't budge. She did come into the lunch room and have her meal but that was all. One of the elderly Sephardi men was quite learned in torah. They certainly kept the people engaged or tried. One lady read a story about Tu b'Shvat. there were two seperate, exercize instructors. I sang along during the recital and did all of the exercizes too. I think that the instructors thought that I was one of the gang.

I stayed for the lunch and helped serve and cleaned up afterwards. I also helped to feed one of the men. It all felt natural and familiar for me. There was no one medicated or zombie like in the group. It is actually, a very pleasant environment. I kept thinking of how much my father would have enjoyed being there. While they had a tea break, I helped myself to two cups of expresso coffee. I thanked them all for sharing the day with me. They asked me when I was coming back. I almost want to go back again this week. I told the social worker that I would commit to tuesdays from 9:00 a.m til 1:00 p.m. I really enjoyed myself. The time didn't go that fast, but I made sure to talk with everyone in the room when I wasn't grilling Murry from Brooklyn.

I stopped off in town to buy some nuts and dried fruits. Tu b'Shvat is in another three weeks and since it falls out on Shabbat this year, I have decided to make a Shabbaton and invite some women to sleep over. I have made up an elaborate menu to incorporate 20 varities of friut and ten varities of nuts. We have everything from mango salsa to chestnut soup. That's just on paper, nothing is written in stone. We'll just see how the shopping goes and if I can find all the ingredients that I need.

I have been searching the web for days for recipes. The strangest and most ambitious of them all is a Thai coconut, cashew, lychee chicken dish. It's really two types of Thai chicken combined so I can use both, coconut, and lychees. A little sooner to the time, I'll post the entire menu. I was fortunate today to find a bag of frozen mango in a store in the old city of Zefat. I don't think that mangos are in season now. I also don't know if I'll be able to find fresh kumquats either. If I can't find the fresh ones, I'll have to serve the candied ones as dessert.

We just got back form a neighbor's Pidyon Ben at the loal shul. That's the Redemption service of the first born son. I had the pleasure to hold my grandson, Sahar, on my lap for a while. He looked so darn cute in his blue sweater, jeans and brown suade mocassins! I'm really enjoying this grandma 'thing'.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day

i just lost my entire blog for today. i was so cocky about making shabbat and handling everything so well that i hit the wrong button and poof, went my entry.

i went to bed last night at around 4:00 a.m. i spent hours on the phone and blog and finally called it a night. i jumped out of bed at 9:30 a.m. and said my morning blessings and had two coffees. amazingly, i didn't have a headache or muscle ache. i quickly threw in my pot of potatoes and boiled eggs for tomorrow's lunch. since i had run out of eggs and the umph to treck downstairs to the local store, i opted for making a one egg coffee cake and an eggless chocolate fudge cake. the secret ingredient here is mayonnaise.

i did the washing up from last night and put away the plates. i threw in a super batch of laundry, including the doggie sweater that michal lent us. the kids took the pooch for his haircut in town. they'll buy the challas and if not,there are always tons of frozen pitas in the freezer. sahar is fast asleep in his carriage in the kitchen. apparently, he also pulled an all nighter. he didn't even put up a fuss when i put him down. when i came upstairs to see him, he actually chose to watch me instead of his children's show. i guess nature isn't his thing yet.

i am planning on making a 'simple' shabbat meal. potted chicken and potatoes and an israeli salad. i have a little bit of the home made humus left and i guess i have some canned goods in the pantry. i will make the fish fillets that take about 10 minutes to stew. i will try to doctor last week's rice. i'll serve the left over pomeganate as a side dish. i'm not into cooking chicken with it. tomorrow morning, michal can have the left over chicken while the kids have their mashed egg and potatoes lunch. perhaps i'll throw a few veggies together with some canned beans and call it vegetarian cholent.

i need to wash the floor because it reaks of 'doggie'. no matter how many drops of aromatic oils i use, you can still smell the pooch. hopefully after his baldie and shampoo, he will be more pleasant smelling.

happy new year and good shabbas!