Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgivucka Ends But Chanukah Goes On

it is 8:00 a.m. in the holy city of Zefat.  today is the 4th day of Chanuka.   the gans are on vacation so i have my grandson with me until around 4:00 p.m.   i volunteered to take him to a theater in town for a chabad presentation at noon.  although it is only a five minute walk form the bus stop, we will cab it to be safe.   i haven't attempted to take him to town after a disastrous time with him a couple of years ago.   i am a bit apprehensive to take him today.

my thanksgiving/chanukah meal went well.  we were only seven at the table.  in the past i usually had a large crowd,  but i simply can't get one together anymore.  this friend is diabetic, and this friend is working evenings,  and this one's husband is out of town, and this one doesn't do well in a crowd, etc.  this was a small gathering and a cozy one at that.   i didn't have to open up the table and scramble for chairs.   it was comfortable  for each person.

i made sure to have a fun trivia quiz about both holidays and chocolate coins to sweeten the deal.  some of the questions were sheer silliness but i wanted a light evening.  it prevented a lull in the conversation.  we didn't do the usual  'what do you have to be thankful for' round robbin this time.  we were all thankful to be alive, warm, comfortable, and well fed.  we were all thankful for a couple of hours of  good cheer and food and fun company.  it was my parents' anniversary and i was thankful for all they did for me and the fond holiday memories.          

i had the grandson all day with me on thursday.  i hadn't been asked, either.  i spent a good couple of hours washing the floors and straightening up the house.   since i had pneumonia, papers and toys and clothes as well as, dirt and dog hairs piled up all over the place.  i found myself  trying to do a pesach clean up.  it was difficult to set the table and do the floors with a little 4 year old active boy  running around and getting  in my way.  i was not a happy camper or grandma.

i had a few turkey napkins left from former years.  i don't know what i'll do next year.  the supply is gone.  i still have my paper thanksgiving table cloth that i didn't use this year out of respect for chanukah.  the food was pretty good, if i do say so myself.  the applesauce which was frozen beforehand was just right.  the cranberry sauce was thick and jellied. it wasn't  too sweet but a bit tart.  i actually prayed for it to taste good.  the turkey wings and meatballs were good, not that i had many.  the corn bread was a hit although i didn't  go for it.  no one really touched the cranberry muffins.  perhaps it was overkill.  the string beans and almonds was a welcomed side dish.   the sage kosher 'sausage' rice dressing with chestnuts and cranberries was a big hit.  i served the rest on shabbat and even the sephardi daughter-in-law liked it.

i struggled with making sweet potato latkes.  they simply were not frying up.  they kept on falling apart.  i totally forgot how to make latkes. even after i had a long conversation with my sister the latke maven,  i wasn't able to produce one latke.  i finally threw the greasy mushy mess into a loaf pan and added a couple of eggs.  voila!  we had a tasty sweet potato kugel.  i had almost the same results with the corn fritters.  i persevered and made many very thin and greasy fritters.  they were actually a hit.

 i struggled at the last minute to make the pumpkin custard.  i really didn't care anymore.  i should have pureed it better because it baked into a very runny and very unappealing looking dish.  i tossed most of it. even though it was topped off with a scoop of pareve shipped cream it was untouched.  i think that's it with pumpkin desserts for me.  my pumpkin cake was not much better received last year.  fortunately, everyone was too full to complain or comment about the custard.   also, a good friend arrived with a huge box of jelly donuts with fancy icing to boot.  no one missed the pumpkin pie.

i was totally wiped out by the time the guests arrived.  i had planned on making a green salad.  it never happened.  i hurriedly cut up some red and yellow peppers and threw cherry tomatoes in to a dish.  i did make a mayonnaise dressing.  i had wanted to make russian dressing but the kids had made off with my bottle of ketchup.  i somehow relaxed during the meal.  i  ended up eating two enormous jelly donuts later that night after i did the clean up.  it was basically washing the dishes.  adults do not trash your house after a meal.

i woke up on friday and i was wasted.  i had to visit the cemetery.  it was the 5th anniversary of my mother's passing.  i was planning on going with my sister but i had to leave early.  my son couldn't go with me because he holds the custom of not visiting a cemetery during chanukah.  i took a taxi and literally stayed for about 5 minutes.  i cleaned both my parents' graves and had a good cry.  i lit memorial candles, said a quick psalm and went to town.  i had to exchange the bedroom slippers that i had bought for my granddaughter.  i wasted over an hour in the process.

i went to a small grocery and bought goodies.  i decided that in my mother's honor i would make a great shabbat.  i splurged.  i got home at noon.  i quickly sprang into action as shabbat candle lighting was at 4:00 p.m.  i  made a cholent with beef and chicken and used barley and wheat.  i fried up some chicken breasts.  i had a problem again.  i think using an electric burner just isn't the best for frying.   i cooked up a small piece of niles perch fish in a spicy sephardi sauce.  i served egg salad, corn salad, a green salad, guacamole, and two types of chumus.  i asked my daughter-in-law to make the red cabbage salads as i was losing steam.  i served the rice dressing and i made some oven fried white and sweet potatoes.

 i made a cheesecake using instant butterscotch pudding instead of the vanilla kind.   i had a banana  loaf cake leftover from thanksgiving that got overshadowed by the donuts.  i made raspberry jello with non dairy whipped cream.  i bought almond sticks, watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds. i even sprung for kedem grape juice.  there was plenty of beer and a bottle of wine leftover from last shabbat.  i got the chanukiah ready for lighting and i was ready to collapse.

the daughter-in-law went to shul and left the two kids with me.  they were carrying on and the little one was crying and screaming  until i screamed at her to shut up.  i didn't get to shower.  i had a cranberry and vodka  cocktail and did the dishes.  i didn't let the grandson sleep over.  i needed to relax.  i didn't fall asleep until almost 11:00 p.m.  i was pretty wasted in the morning.  but the day went well.  i gave the kids chanuka cards and their mother played with them for a while.  lunch was tasty  and then everyone napped while i read psalms.  shabbat ended at 5:00 p.m. and i went to bed and watched t.v.  i watched a great movie although i was falling asleep during most of it.

the house is trashed.  i am too tired too clean it.  the heat wave is officially over and the weather has turned cold.  it is windy and definitely feels like winter today.  the grandson is anxious to get going.  the chanukah show isn't until noon.  i need a hot shower and some amphetamine.  wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gobble Gobble Spin The Draidel

it is 8:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.   tonight is the first night of chanukah.   i don't know yet if the kids will be here or not.   i can always fry up some latkes if they come around.   i have yams, pumpkin and sweet potatoes to work with.   i can also fry up some greek yogurt puff donuts in a blink of an eye.   i bought both kids a chanukah package of sweets and i still have a reserve of chocolate lollies in the freezer.  i really need to buy some cheap gifts, too.

 i have to pick up my grandson from gan later on today.  we usually go to the playground until the daughter-in-law picks us up.   so far the weather has been fine.  in fact, we are in the middle of a heatwave.  they call it a sherav, a desert wind.  no snow for us right now.   santa is definitely not in the equation here.  we'll just have to wait until we try on our new ugh boots this year.

my grandson visited me at 6:00 a.m.   i managed to rest until he requested his morning hot chocolate.  the dogs had already made in the hallway.  i start each day by sponging down the hallway.  i need to wash the floors but i am still a bit tired.  if only i could drink some coffee.  the smell still revulses me.

i finally took my remedy on sunday.  for a moment i felt totally well.  i felt my lungs opening up and i didn't feel sick.  it was then followed by an overwhelming fatigue and i couldn't get out of bed.  all i could do was sleep.  the kids finally made a birthday party for the 2 year old granddaughter on thursday.  i made a cheesecake and about 15 large chocolate lollies.  the noise level was out of control.  my head was splitting.   i spent a lot of time talking to our new yorker shabbat guest, who was invited to the party.  i then escaped to the upstairs.

i came down after the party was over for some cake.  i started binging again and have hit the sugar and carbs pretty hard lately.  i helped straighten up a bit and went back upstairs and watched some t.v.   i spent the entire friday on my feet cooking shabbat meals.  i started at 9:00 a.m. and finished at 4:00 p.m.  our guest was a gluten free vegan.   my daughter-in-law, being sephardi,  had no clue how to cook for a vegetarian, never mind vegan.  and you can forget about gluten free.

 zelda doesn't ever back down from a culinary challenge.  i made a gluten free egg less chocolate cake and a corn bread.   the secret here being soy milk and vinegar.   i made white rice, white potatoes, fresh corn, fried eggplant and a pumpkin soup.  i made a cabbage salad without mayonnaise dressing.  and of course, i made one with mayonnaise.   i also made a vegetarian cholent with canned beans and chickpeas and potatoes for his lunch.   i made the usual fish, chicken and meat cholent for the rest of us,  as well as a regular coconut loaf cake.  the kids tasted the egg less chocolate cake made with rice flour and spit it out.  the guest loved it.  in spite of the strange consistency, it tasted yummy and fudgy.  thank goodness that  he ate sugar and didn't know what night shades are!.

after shabbat, i was back in bed for a few days.  my throat feels a bit scratchy and i seem to have a bit of heart burn.  i don't know if this is from the remedy or a remnant of the pneumonia.  maybe it's all the junk that i've been gorging on.  who knows?   i have been busy making a thanksgiving chanukah feast for tomorrow night.  i have a non dairy cornbread, banana bread and a dozen cranberry muffins in the freezer.  i even froze my homemade applesauce.  i can use any leftover sauce to make a cake.  these non american kids hate applesauce.  they think it's baby food.  my sister's american lot think of it as geriatric food.   i think of it as a must serve traditional side dish for latkes.

 i made up a pot of very spicy turkey wings and meatballs last night.  i used up all of the leftover dry red wine in the fridge and added a packet of sweet chili sauce and some tomato paste. sugar.  i  also made up a batch of cranberry sauce.  i used the tangerines from the back yard instead of orange juice.  because i didn't water the garden,  they are the size of cherry tomatoes.  however, they do have a lot of juice but are a bit tart.  i used tons of sugar and added apples as well as some dried cranberries. i had one heck of a headache last night and i'm not sure if  it was from the msg in the chili sauce or the escessive amount of sugar in the cranberries.

 i've already cooked up some pumpkin to make a baked custard.  i don't feel like fussing with making a pie crust.  i don't have any ramekins so i cut out individual aluminum muffin tins.  they might be too small but how much dessert do we really need.  i bought some pareve whip cream to top them off.  for sure, that is asking for a headache.  are we having fun yet!

i have leftover rice so i'm making a sage sausage dressing with kebobs.  i have been on the web all week looking up recipes.  i thought about making a rice pudding but in the end, i'm making a rice dressing.  i bought lettuce, red cabbage and cherry tomatoes to make a salad.  i also have avocado to make guacomole.  i need something fried.  i think people are expecting sweet potatoes too.  i want to make corn fritters but i forgot to buy corn.  the local store was out of cooked chestnuts.  i'll buy the corn on my way to pick up my grandson.  i know this is way too much food, but the beauty of it all,  is that the next day is shabbat and i won't have to cook again.

Chanukah sameach and Happy thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Just A Perfect Day

it is 7:30 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i have an appointment to see my homeopath at noon.  i am hoping to get a remedy to strengthen my immune system.  i have never gone in for  bee pollen or echinesia.  i tend not to do well with herbal products.  i feel strange going homeopathic after such a long time.  i initially took a remedy  last december to help with the radiation treatments.

i felt too polluted when i returned from the hospital to get a remedy.  i was so traumatized from all the hospitalization, that i simply hid in my house for 9 months and tried to heal by osmosis.  i see now that it was a huge mistake.  i felt like i had let homeopathy down.  i felt like a traitor.  i realize now that i really hindered my recovery by not eating well and taking a remedy.

i recently was diagnosed with pneumonia.  i took a round of two different antibiotics and stayed in bed for about two weeks.  i lost my voice three times.  i insisted on having long telephone conversations which were painful for me and for my friends who had to listen to me violently cough.   i sounded like a fog horn.  my voice would fade in and out of the conversation.  by not being active, i put on a bunch of weight when i finally started eating.  this is not good.  i didn't feel as sick as i imagined i would with pneumonia, but i was very depressed.  at first,  i couldn't do much but sleep. i didn't drink liquids, take vitamin c and garlic, or gargle with salt.  i was very passive.  i felt defeated.  i ate way too much sugar.  i read that dark chocolate was good so i over did it.  i had bought a block of cheap chocolate to make lollies for chanukah but i managed to eat it all during my convalescence.

i didn't see the kids much but i did do a couple of babysitting stints at night.  i was feeling almost well on thursday.  the kids asked if i could make shabbat meals for them.   my daughter-in-law made shabbat the week before.  i went to the store all by myself.  it was the first time that i left the house in weeks.  i spent a small fortune on shabbat treats and drinks.  i cleaned the entire house.  i did the floors.  i had friends coming from efrat for the night so i made up the bedrooms.  i even baked a chocolate cake.

we made a barbecue and a couple of friends came over to join us.  my daughter-in-law went out with a gal pal.  the boys did a karaoke performance for us.  we were all pretty silly and loose.  i hadn't seen my efrat friends in nearly two years.  it was a good night.  we gabbed until the wee hours of the morning.  i got most of the meal done early.  my daughter-in-law came down with a strong throat virus and was down for the count.  i kept the kids with me so she could sleep.

by saturday she was in bad shape.  at least, at night she was able to eat.   in the morning she couldn't swallow.  she couldn't do much of anything.  my grandson slept with me on friday might.  he woke up at 6:00 a.m. and was ready for chocolate milk and cake.  my granddaughter came up shortly after with a diaper in hand.  my son sent her up to her grandmother to change her poopy diaper.  talk about your chutzpa!  i kept the kids with me until shabbat was over.

yesterday my throat felt scratchy and sore.  i stayed in bed.  my son called to ask me to pick up my grandson from kindergarten.  my daughter-in-law ended up driving me to pick up the kids form their perspective gans. they stayed with me until my son came home from work.  i bathed them together in the tub and fed them.  the house is now completely trashed but i am in no shape to clean it.  i had a strange dream about moving back to town.  it was so dramatic.  i can't imagine leaving  my house and neighborhood at this point in time.  at least it will be something to discuss with the homeopath.  they really like dreams.

i have to go to tel aviv tomorrow for the brain MRI and to see the gyn/oncologist.  i want to cancel.  i am very tired.  i can't imagine travelling so far.  i don't have the energy to call to reschedule the appointments.  i still have not been reimbursed for the taxi rides from march.  my medical carrier is definitely playing games with me.  i simply, do not have the money to take a driver tomorrow.  i guess i have to gird my loins and just do it or else, cancel in the morning.  pneumonia is a pretty good excuse.

i got an email form one of the yeshiva students that i knew while i was cooking there.  he is now in jerusalem and sounds like he is doing well.  this young man was quite a character in his 'youth'.  he has the tattoos all over his arms and legs to testify to it.  still, he was one of my favorite guys.  we sparred a bit but i definitely felt him.  we only went head to toe once, and i didn't back down.  he reminds me a lot of myself.

 i recently heard that lou reed had died.  he was one of my favorite artists and songwriters.  he was also a jew.  he lived to be 71.  that's pretty amazing for someone who was so self destructive as himself.  i read that in later years he did tia chi .  i pray that he rests in peace.  once again, i am humbled that i have survived my past and recent illness.  praise the Lord!!!