Friday, April 29, 2011

Shabbos Kodesh

it's nearly candlelighting time in the holy city of zefat. shabbat comes in, in an another hour. i had sahar with me until about half an hour ago. i managed to cook and prepare shabbat meals while he was watching t.v. in his playpen.

i took him out bright and early to the grocery store. i needed to buy a sweet challah and some yogurt. i ran to the same store last night, right after being told that the kids would be here for shabbat. i had just come home from town at 6:00 p.m. i was kind of hoping to go out this weekend. i can't seem to catch a break. anyway, the shabbat food is warming on the electric platter. the two last minute cakes, that i made, are rather horrible.

i wonder if i forgot to add the sugar to the brownie cake. the batter tasted a lot better than the end result. the fruit bars aren't much better. the recipe suggested dates and nuts. i threw in shredded coconut and some cocoa at the last minute. i didn't have any vanilla extract in the house so i used a natural almond one. i used way, too much. i guess i should have just bought a cake while i was at the store. the kids prefer the store bought junk to my whole wheat cakes, any day.

i made a lot of variety today to kind of make up for pesach. i made sweet and chili chicken, fried chicken cutlets, baked sweet potatoes, assorted lentils and ming beans, white rice, stewed fish in a lemon curry sauce, and fresh corn. i also made a hot and spicy cooked tomato relish, that the kids like so much. i made some fried eggplant slices and baked garlic cloves. i bought chumus and made chopped eggs and avocado. and of course, i made cooked beets with lemon. you can't have shabbat without them.

sahar was in an eating mood today. i plied him with milk, melon, boiled eggs, yogurt, fresh corn, chicken cutlets, and potato sticks. what a pleasure to see him stuff his little chubby face!

tomorrow is shabbat mervorchim. the shabbat before the new month. i got a lot of psalms to read tomorrow. i hope i'll get the chance. i wish you all a wonderful shabbat! i need to jump into the shower, now!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pesach Ends

it is 10:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. pesach is officially over. i had a few people in for an evening meal called the 'moshiach seudah'. we usually drink 4 cups of wine and eat matzah, reminiscent of a pesach sedar. this year i cooked an actual meal.

i invited a married couple who aren't knowledgeable, yet, in yiddishkite (jewish tradition). i felt weird about not serving them food, especially since the wife does not drink wine. i took this into account when i prepared the food for the holiday.
as one of my other guests is a vegitarian who can't eat gluten or night shades, i prepared a separate fish meal. i stewed the fish with root veggies, onions, zucchini and carrots, sweet potaoes and lemon and olive oil.

i was going to stew the rest of the fish with a lot of root vegetables and tomatoes. i only cook with salt and peppercorns on pesach. i never use garlic or other spices. i tend to use a lot of onions. i usually don't bother to fry up the onions but on pesach you can't escape it. i did use ginger root alot this pesach. it went especially well with the honey glazed orange chicken and the poached pears in wine.

as i was making the stuffed eggplant dish, i had a lot of batter left over. i decided to make fried fish for the moshiach seudah. the eggplant dish was a bit of a potchka. first, i peeled the eggplants and salted them. i then patted them dry after they sweat. i then made the mashed potatoes filling. i made a batter with eggs and potato starch. it was way too thick and resembled wallpaper glue. i then dipped the eggplant slices into this mixture. it was no easy feat.

i then fried up the eggplants and drained them on paper towels. i then coated the niles fish chunks and fried them, too. i then made up a tomato sauce with peeled fresh tomatoes and onions. it cooked for quite a bit. i religiously, peel all the veggies on pesach, even tomatoes. it is quite a work out. i then stuffed the mashed potatoes, teaspoon at a time, into the fried eggplant slices and rolled them. you are then supposed to bake them in the oven for 25 minutes.

as i didn't have a pesach oven, i cooked them in the tomato sauce for 25 minutes, on a very low flame. they honestly, didn't look like anything great, and were a bit soggy. but they were delicious. so was the fried fish. i also made mashed orange and ginger flavored sweet potatoes. i made candied almonds too. i had made gingered pears in wine the night before. they went really fast. since i had a bit of the sugary syrup left in a pan, i simply threw in a few fresh almonds and let it bake on top of the electric hot plate until they were like peanut brittle.

i served up fresh sangria. i added a lot of fresh oranges and lemons and ginger. it was very tastey indeed! i had about 3 cups full and even made my havdallah on another cup. i am way too wasted to put away my pesach dishes tonight. i'll try to do this tamorrow. even though it's a mitzvah, i am in no hurry to eat chometz yet.

it got very cold this evening. i was invited to go to the in-laws for moraccan pancakes. it is a custom. i have no room to eat anything else. that last maccaroon did me in. tomorrow it's diet, diet, diet and laundry, laundry, laundry. i actually, had to unzip my skirt a little while ago. shame, shame, on me!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Last Dance

it's 12:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. it is the last leg of the chag. i am on my way to the grocery to buy more potatoes. i usually don't buy things during the holiday. it has been my custom for many years. i think that gal will probably want boiled eggs and potatoes for tomorrow's lunch so the heck with tradition.

zvi wants me to spring for lamb chops but i am holding out. there are plenty of steaks and chicken wings in the freezer. i have already spent my 'wad' this holiday. i am trying to create more gourmet meals today, as i don't have sahar to deal with. i already made potted meatballs in wine and a plain chicken and turkey soup. not exactly the gourmand. i ran out of avocado so i made chopped eggs and fried onions. hope it will go over as well as the avocado has, all week.

i am making stuffed eggplant roll ups in a tomato sauce. i already sliced and salted the eggplant and made the fresh tomato sauce. i still have to batter and fry the eggplant. i'm supposed to stuff them with mashed potatoes. i don't have a toaster oven to bake these so i'll simply, leave them on the blech. hopefully, it will work out.

i also want to make a dairy blintz cake. this entails making loads of blintzes and filling each layer with sweetened cottage cheese. i sure hope there is cottage cheese still left to buy. i wanted to bake today but i gave my toaster oven to my sister. the small one, that i thought had never been used, seems suspect. better safe than sorry, as we say at pesach time. maybe i'll buy a store bought pesach brownie cake.

i went to bed very late and i woke up with a backache. the short walk to the grocery should help with the kinks. i'm already tired and i still have a lot to do, including washing the floors. i have about 5 hours more to fool around but i'm losing my focus. i need lots of patience to complete the tasks today. i'm losing my interest fast.

wish me luck. and i will wish everyone a happy pesach!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free At Last

it's 6:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. pesach is almost over. i spent 18 hours straight, on my feet, finishing up the cleaning on sunday. i ended up doing the picture windows outside as well as the living room windows. zvi helped me take them out and of course, put them back in for me.

the kids pulled an all nighter on saturday night. they left me with sahar and didn't come home until 5:30 a.m. they managed to open the shoe store on sunday morning. zvi went off to his work. i went to sleep at 4:30 a.m. and got up to start my pesach work at 9:00 a.m. sahar had slept until 1:00 a.m. but he didn't return to sleep until 4:00 a.m. i did all of the candlesticks; gal's and my siver ones, and mom's brass ones, while he slept.

we managed to do the check for chometz about midnight. we were all beyond exhausted. i had sahar the next day and kept him in his playpen, while i cooked the sedar meal and prepared the sedar. i played chassidic negunim while i worked. sahar was content in his playpen and didn't give me a hard time. gal came home around 3:00 p.m. i took out all of the pesach utensils and dishes and set the table. i was remarkably, calm and collected. my hands were like lobster claws.

we were all pretty tired by the time we sat down to the seadar. never the less, we finished the sedar pretty early. zvi zipped through the haggadah at rapid speed. we were finished by 11:00 p.m. poor gal, fell asleep at the table. sahar managed to drink a little grape juice and eat a small piece of matzah before falling asleep. he did here dayenu in his playpen. he was so excited eating matzah. it was his first time. i fell asleep, after i did all of the washing up. that was approximately, 1:00 a.m.

we had a leisurely lunch and the kids went to sleep. sahar and i spent the afternoon outside in the garden. later on, the kids went over to gal's family. i spent the rest of the chag, shmoozing with my friend.

on wednesday night, we did a barbecue. zvi and his brother in law did the meats. i did chips for hours. i always forget how long it takes to make french fries on pesach. everyone was happy and relaxed. there were plenty of marshmallows to melt. on thursday, we all went to the little zoo in town. we all spent time chasing after sahar.

tonight, the kids are going to gal's family for shabbat. i am going to be here by myself. i've already made a lamb stew for my dinner. it is cold and rainy today. i don't really look forward to being alone, but i really don't want to walk home in the rain and wind.

my hands and arms are on the mend from various cuts and caustic cleanser burns. my foot is still cut but i'll deal with it later. at least, my hands don't look like claws. you can't imagine how swollen my hands and feet were a few days ago. by next week, i'll be fine, again. i always say, pesach should be a month long. it isn't fair that we do so much work and the holiday only lasts for a week.

i'm having a few guests for sunday night chag and monday daytime. it will be a bit of a challenge to come up with recipes with the remaining food and veggies. i think i'll manage alright. zvi will probably want to do another daytime barbecue. i have chicken wings and steaks in the freezer. i think i'll make potato latkes for a change. i'm pretty sick of the mashed potatoes by now. we finally ran out of avocado so it will be eggs and fried onions for chag. i may also make fried eggplant slices. we shall see!

in the meantime, my house still shines and it's a pleasure to be here. i wish you all a good shabbat!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

who's got time to blog

it's 7:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. just got back from the family bris. boy did i eat! after 5 days of just eating fruit and veggies, i let go. i mostly stuck with meat and veggies. i had 4 portions from the buffet before the meal was served. i only had some salad and a chicken breast for the main course. only!!!!

sahar was running around the entire time. he finally slipped and fell on his head, just before we left. his parents were nowhere to be found. his other safta was busy hosting and helping her daughter with the baby. she did manage to find time to walk around with sahar. someone from their family asked if i spoiled sahar. i merely answered, that he had a rather large family to spoil him. truth being, i think that i spoil him the least.

i had a terrible backache today. i did laundry for about 8 hours nonstop, yesterday. i hung up everything outside. my drier sort of died last week. there is tons of dried laundry all over the house. i just need a little strength and some tome to myself, to put it all away. i am totally stuck with sahar, these days. the kids are in the process of opening a shoe store in town. they are hell bent on opening it by this coming sunday. i had sahar from 8:00 am until 5:00 p.m. yesterday. i took him to his other safta and went to the veggie store. i was there for a couple of hours. i could'nt get a cab.

i walked over to my sister's to say hello to my nephew, who had just arrived from n.y. i got home at 8:00 p.m. i brought in the last of the laundry and the veggies came. i probably caught a draft in my back. it was rather cold last night. i then went over to miriam's for the shalom zachor. i took sahar home at 11:00 p.m. he was over tired and on a sugar high. he was literally, bouncing off the walls.

as a rule, i do not ply sahar with sugar all day long. i do occassionally, put black strap molasses in his milk for iron. his darling parents didn't get back until 1:30 a.m. i was beside myself. i now have to watch him all night long. i also need to finish my pesach cleaning.

some of the fruit and veggies are in the fridge. the meat and chicken are in the freezer. the paper goods, chocolates and nashes, oil, wine and matzah are all put away in the closets. the eggs are still on the kitchen table. i still need to wash the kitchen chairs. i also, have a couple of cartons of potatoes and other veggies in the hallway. i need to wash the pantry counters, so i can put the veggies away.

i still need to clean the cooking outcove. i also need to put away all my laundry and clothes from the large bedroom. i need to clean that bathroom, too. i'll have to skip doing the windows on the porches this year. i have to get myself in gear tomorrow morning, bright and early. i just feel like crawling into bed. i am good for nothing tonight.

i went to the seniors' center this morning. i was going to blow it off. my back hurt so much that i couldn't do any cleaning. i could barely walk, too. i felt very guilty about missing another week. gal, suddenly, had to rush out to town, so i quickly threw on a skirt over my pj's and went with her to town. the old folks were very happy to see me. they thought that i hadn't been there in a month. kenneth, the retired, american dentist, was especially happy to see me. he's no murry, but he relys on my company, i'm glad that i went. i felt better afterwards. my back is beginning to act up again.

i will go to miriam's on friday night. i have no intention of doing anything for shabbat. i'll have a tuna sandwich for lunch and that's it. shabbat shalom!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fight To The Finish

it is 1:00 p.m. on a thursday in the holy city of zefat. i am taking a break from babysitting. gal came back to murse sahar and put him down for a nap. her sister gave birth this morning. poor thing was in labor for over 31 hours.

safta miriam just left the hospital. she went straight to the supermarket to buy the shabbat groceries. hopefully, she'll rest for a while before she goes back to see her daughter. i don't know how she does it. she'll probably make some food for her daughter and son- in- law before she goes back to the hospital. next week, she'll make pesach cleaning as well as care for her new grandson and daughter. remember, the girls go home to sephardi mama for the first month. good luck!

in the meantime, i'm stuck here with sahar. i had him until late afternoon yesterday. i would have had him until 8:00 p.m. but while i was at the small supermarket, she had to make a run to the emergency room. her younger brother apparently, received an elbow to his eye at school. she took sahar to her mother's and her sister watched him. poor safta miriam! one kid in labor and another in the emergency room. thank goodness, they're all okay.

my poor sister is having her apartment refurbished. it's a government apartment and they're redoing the kitchen and bathroom. the apartment is totally, trashed and she's been left without water and a proper toilet for a couple of days. she and her family always used the downstairs apartment for pesach. this year, the kids are living downstairs. i would love to offer her the upstairs studio but there isn't really a proper kitchen there. the large fridge is in the storage area and i don't think we could share a kitchen for pesach.

in a perfect world, i'd invite them and do all the cooking. in that perfect world we'd all have a pesach sedar together. unfortunately, in this world it won't 'fly.' chabadnikim have a set of rituals, all their own for pesach. one cannot phathom their stringencies. as a rule, they will not eat in each others' homes at pesach. my sister will not eat any food that i've prepared in my home. she will get highly insulted if i don't eat her food. figure that out, if you can.

i invited a couple of guests for the sedar. the selling point: being a quick and happy sedar with lots of singing, afterwards. the kids agreed to be here. zvi always made a sedar for my parents. it was always very lively. my father, who suffered from dementia, always got to finish the sedar, too. we don't do all that much talkng and explaining. everyone leaves happy and satisfied. i'm pretty bombed after my first glass of wine. forget about the 4th cup!

i do feel guilty that my family and i won't be together for the holiday. we however, have never really done pesach together. even when they stayed downstairs, we were not together. about 18 years ago, zvi and i finally went to them for a sedar. it was not really to our liking. you could say that it was, pretty much, a disaster.

two years ago, after our mom died, we did do the pesach sedar in my apartment, for the first time in 10 years. my niece and husband were in from india. zvi was not living here then. he went to his in-laws that year for sedar. as it turned out, i developed bells palsey two days before the sedar night. i was drooling and unable to see out of my right eye. i was also, in excrutiating pain after the sedar night. that week remains a blurr.

i haven't done anything today for pesach. i did do the freezer and fridge yesterday. all the glass shelves are still resting on the counters. i need to reassemble them and tape them together again. i do this ritual every year. i offered to do some laundry for my sister. my eye is acting up today. i must rest. in a little while, we are going down to the hospital to see the new baby. that ought to be quite a feat, with sahar along.

next week is going to be really hard with watching sahar and finishing pesach cleaning. i don't know how i am going to finish everything. i have one less floor to do this year. you would think that it should be easier. it's not. in the amount of time that i chase after a toddler, i could have washed the windows, and floors and put away the clothes. i'm more tired after 8-10 hours with sahar, than if i painted the entire house by myself.

by the way, i wish everyone lots of health and lots of energy!!!! only happiness and good news!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taking A Break

it's 3:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. i'm taking a break from pesach cleaning today. after a short lived heatwave, it turned cold and rainy once more. there goes the windows!

i took care of sahar for a few hours this morning. the little scoundrel got out of the house and was running through the grass. luckily, it wasn't raining too hard. it was quite cold, never the less. he escaped a little while ago and came running through my apartment right up to the front door.

the kids are planning to go out in a little while, so i may have to watch him some more. i already decided not to do anything too physical today. i spent about 8 hours yesterday, doing laundry and cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. it wasn't too demanding on my back. most of the laundry dried outdoors. i took in the remainder just as it started to sprinkle and threw it in the dryer.

i still have the rest of the cabinets to do but not today. i routinely, keep everything clean so it's not heavy duty work. i always clean up sticky messes and wash surfaces on a need to do so basis. the only area that i do seem to neglect, is the actual cooking area in the little kitchen outcove. that is my major pesach concern. i don't keep chometz in the pantry area, either. the cabinets are used basically, for spices, cookbooks and paper goods. the bottom shelves are used for storing wine and other beverages. i keep the hard liquior in the dishwasher.

the freezer and fridge are nearly empty. i need a warmer day to clean them. there isn't a real mess to clean up, thankfully. i still need to do the master bedroom. that entails, putting away all of the clothes, at this point. it also is a major job, washing the huge sliding glass doors and screens. i'll try to bring up the hose from the back yard.

i'm still thinking of painting the downstairs walls. they are pretty blackened in some places from the rain. i might end up 'selling' the third floor. i don't know if i'll be able to get it done in time. right now, i'm in good shape. if i start having to deal with sahar every morning, i won't be able to finish. i can't seem to work at night. my house isn't well lit so it's stopping time at sunset.

i haven't totally completed one room. i still need to make up the beds in the computer room and back bedroom. i'd like to throw the slip covers of the mattresses in the wash. i still need to wash the dining room chairs. they aren't so badly soiled this year. this however, entails unscrewing the seats. i depend on zvi for this task.

he was supposed to go to the army today in tel aviv. he put on his most winkled army work clothes and looked like a real shlumperdink. gal made him undress and dutifully, ironned the uniform. in the end, he didn't go. i'm kind of hoping that sahar goes to safta miriam at 4:00 p.m. but i don't know if gal will drag him out in the rain. if he does go out, i'll surely start to feel guilty that i'm not cleaning something. you can't win.