Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sleepless In Zefat

it is 4:30 a.m. in the holy city of zefat and I can't sleep.  we ended the fast of Yom Kippur at around 7:30p.m.  I spent the day in synagogue and had a wonderful time. I had davened at the local Sephardi synagogue on Rosh Hashana and didn't know one tune. it was very frustrating.  it was also extremely hot and I didn't feel well.  I had walked over to the local Chabad bomb shelter where I pray on holidays, but I had a panic attack and had to leave.

I  felt dizzy and nauseous and came home.  I think I lost my vision for a moment, too.  after a few moments and a damp towel on my face, I regained my composure and vision.  I walked over to the Sephardi shul which was air conditioned.  the kids were with me for the first night so I didn't mind not following the service.  it was very annoying the next day.

today I was at home in the bomb shelter.  I felt well and strong.  I loved the Chabad tunes and was in my zone.  I didn't stay for the Kiddush to break the fast because the kids were home.  I put out store bought chocolate croissants and a cheese yeast cake.  I then made a tomato and cabbage soup and cheese barekas.  no one was left hungry.  my son was in a good mood and put up the frame of the sukkah.  the small kids helped by bringing him the metal poles.  my grandson, the 6 year old tank, did a bit of hammering, too.  he made some horrific karate grunts before he hammered.

we start the holiday of Sukkot on Sunday.  the kids will be home from gan for a week.  thank goodness, the air is fresh again.  we need a good rainstorm to clean off all of the dust but we can breathe easy again.  they predicted the worst heat wave in centuries for Yom Kippur.  it was actually comfortable today.  the bomb shelter was not air conditioned but it was fine.  it was hotter on Rosh Hashana.  the house was comfortable, too with only a few fans. I didn't sleep well because it was my job to wake up my son at 5:00 a.m. to catch a special service.  I woke up every hour on the hour.

my grandson insisted on sleeping with me and he was sick.  he tossed and turned and coughed the night away.  sometime in the middle of the night it got cold.  I found a blanket and covered us both.  it was lovely.  it was so amazing that it wasn't as hot as they predicted.  I think that G-d decided to give the Jews a break.  I had a nightmare that all the neighborhood houses became flooded with sewerage and that we had to clean up the mess on Yom Kippur.  that week long sand storm traumatized us.

I am anxious once again, about finances.  I think I can get through the rest of the holidays with the food in the freezer.  I still have a small piece of meat and a package of chopped meat.  I am thinking about making a meat lasagna.  I have never made one before.  of course, I cannot add cheese but I think mushrooms or eggplant might work well.  I don't think the little kids would like eggplant.  I know they love mushrooms.  my friend, who is probably coming for the holiday, doesn't eat mushrooms. i'll come up with something.

I do not want to make meatballs again.  I just can't.  I don't think the kids would like meatloaf.  the American boys in the yeshiva went crazy for it but I don't think Israeli's would go for it.  I could make up some beef patties with a lot of cilantro.  that might be just the ticket.  if I get lucky the kids will go to the Sephardi family for the holiday and I can go to my friends.  I still have to make Shabbat meals.  the kids decided to stay home for Yom Kippur at the last minute.

they always go away for Yom Kippur and I am left alone to pray at my local bomb shelter in peace.  this year they panicked because of the weather forecast.  I scrambled to make food before the fast.  I made a small pot of chicken soup with this tiny capon.  I had one onion, 2 sweet potatoes and a piece of pumpkin.  I didn't have any celery or carrots. I didn't have parsley, either.  I made a bunch of potatoes, rice and chicken fingers.  I had bought a lettuce so we had a bit of salad.  I had a bunch of pomegranates from my friends' trees.  I ran to the bakery to buy rolls and a cheese danish loaf.

I have a list of things I need for sukkot and I think that I'm out of checks.  any wonder I can't sleep.  I brought up all the metal poles for the sukkah on Tuesday morning from the shed downstairs.  it took a lot of schlepping up the stairs.  I was determined to put the sukkah  upstairs in the front courtyard this year.  last year we had a humungous wind storm downstairs moments before the holiday began and our metal framed Sukkah nearly flew away.  my son caught it and was holding on to it for dear life.  it was a miracle that he didn't break his hand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The End Of The World

it is 7:00 p.m. in the holy city of Zefat.  we are in the midst of a dirt storm.  I've been here for over 30 years and have never witnessed anything like this.  I've been caught in sand storms and have cleaned up after dirt storms but never has one lasted for more than a night.  they are predicting that this will continue until Thursday.  it looks like the end of the world.  the sky is grey and the air is full of dirt.

people are walking around wearing masks.  there is no air.  a breeze is beginning to blow but I don't dare open my windows.  I spent over 5 hours today washing the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen area.  I could not sleep last night because the dirt was penetrating my air.  everything was covered in this greyish soot.  walking to pick up the kids from gan was nightmarish.  it was so hard to breathe.

I have left my windows open all summer long and didn't think to close them last night.  I dragged in all of the laundry but I totally spaced out about the windows.  I had to wash the computer table and phone and book shelf in the blog room and of course, the floor.  the bathroom was filthy.  I had to wash the sink, and the tub and the floor.

the other bedroom was also covered in the dirt.  the master bedroom is a disaster area.  the porch door was left open as well as the three windows and it's hard to breathe in that room.  I will tackle cleaning it tomorrow.  I wanted to clean for Rosh Hashanah but this is more like a Pesach job.  I polished the antique furniture in the living room and washed the leather sofa with soap and water.  i'll do the floor tomorrow.

I closed all the windows on my floor and it is a sauna now.  but the house does look clean.  the plumber came and fixed my running toilet and put a new plastic tank in the hall toilet.  there went the rest of my holiday rental money.  it is good to have the hall bathroom working again.  I have not stopped moving today.  I did the last of my laundry and put it on the rack in the kitchen. 

I did a bit of cooking this afternoon while the kids played.  I made a small piece of beef in sweet wine, a small tongue Sephardi style with prunes and raisins and a fair amount of beef meatballs.  it is all in cooking bags in the downstairs freezer in the kids' fridge.  I hope the daughter-in-law doesn't check it out because she doesn't like leftovers.  I don't know how the cooked prunes will hold out in the freezer but I can always discard them.  I tasted the tongue and it was delicious.  I have only had tongue once, in Israel, and it was strange.

I have to admit that I nearly gagged when I took the tongue out of the package.  it was hands down, the nastiest thing I ever cooked.  even the quartered sheep's head last year was less gross than this tongue.  after removing the thick skin and making one inch slices the tongue looked fine.  there is just about one slice per guest.  it was pretty small.  I think it might have been about one and a half pounds.  it cost about $10.  it was the first time ever, that I cooked a tongue.

when I was in the cancer hostel the Sephardim were going on and on about cooking brains.  I know in my mom's time it was a large delicacy.  I think I'm up to making brains.  I wanted to cook lungs but the supermarket up here didn't have any.  I did read that the Jews in Germany had the custom to feed their kids calf livers on Rosh Hashanah.  I thought about making liver.  I might do it on Sunday.  I love chopped liver.  I know that somewhere in the freezer is a package of liver.  I made it teriyaki  style once, and the daughter-in-law loved it.  I haven't even thought about what to make for Shabbat.

they have predicted a hot Rosh Hashanah.  I think chicken soup will not be on the menu.  I have tons of chicken parts in the freezer.  I just might make some sweet chili chicken wings for Friday night.  I try not making these type of dishes on Rosh Hashanah.  I have the custom not to make pungent or sour foods on the holiday.  I used to add honey to everything I made and I used to suffer with migraines.  I think I added some honey to the beef.  I shouldn't have as I cooked it in a bottle of sweet wine.  I didn't spare the pepper so perhaps the honey will help to compensate for the pepper.  I  added a bit of honey to the tongue but I also added a bit of lemon to make that sweet and sour thing happen.  the recipe called for cider vinegar.  I never seem to have that on hand.  the meatballs are cooked in a Sephardi tomato sauce.  I added something that I didn't recognize in to the meat. it might have been a barbecue spice of some kind.

I'm planning on making a lot of side dishes.  I will make rice with raisins, and an apple and raisin noodle kugel.  I'm thinking about making a waldorf  salad sans the walnuts.  I have the custom not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah.  I also will make a red cabbage salad with apples and raisins.  my son hates fruit in his salads.   I can always make him a salad without the fruit.  and of cause, I have to make the tsimis with apricots. prunes, carrots and sweet potatoes.  I'm the only one who ends up eating it but I must do it anyway.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Shana Tova!

it is 10:15 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I just got back from the large supermarket.  I needed a fish head for Rosh Hashanah.  I already shopped for the fruits and veggies this morning in town.  I spent a small fortune.  I bought all the items that are symbolic on Rosh Hashanah.   I got two types of dates, dried and fresh.  I got a hunk of pumpkin, a few leeks, a few apples, a bunch of fresh string beans, a quince that needs to be cooked, a package of beet leafs, and a green squash that looks like a gourd.  I have beets and carrots left over from last week.

I bought some sweet potatoes to make a stew with prunes, apricots and carrots. the Sephardim add fried onions and turmeric.  I swear every year that I will not make a tsimis.  I always end up making it and no one eats it.  it is a throw back to my childhood.  I can't help myself.  I also plan on making a sweet noodle kugel.  a friend is coming for the holiday.  my daughter-in-law won't eat it.  she hates sweet kugel.  I usually add a small can of pineapple but I didn't buy any this year.  I think I will add an apple.

I didn't buy any potatoes so I won't be making a potato kugel.  I do not plan on going to do any more food shopping.  I have wine, soft drinks, a few beers and tons of grape juice.  I do need to buy round challahs.  I have absolutely no freezer space.  the mini freezer that a neighbor gave me didn't work.  everything got defrosted.  I normally would not refreeze meat but I had no choice.  I threw everything back into the freezer space in the fridge.  I had thousands of shekels worth of poultry.  it hadn't gotten off yet but it was very bothersome.

I plan to bake and cook before Shabbat.  I will need to store things downstairs in the kids fridge.  I don't really like their knowing that I precook food.  they have a misconception that holiday and Shabbat meals must be cooked on the same day as the holiday.  my daughter-in-law's mother does everything last minute.  she would never freeze challah of cooked chicken.  I will just have to see how I feel.  it is incredibly humid here.  they say we will have a heat wave for Rosh Hashanah.  we have had a heat wave here all summer long.  it doesn't end. 

right now it looks kike we are having a sand storm.  I did tons of laundry and dragged it all back into the house because everything is covered in dust right now.  the kids say that they are planning to be here for the entire holiday.  that's 4 meals.  in 6 years they have never spent the entire holiday here.  we usually go to the Sephardi grandma's for the first night.  I come back to the dogs and spend the day with close friends and the kids join me for the second night and day meal.  something is up.  one year I cooked all 4 meals and they split on me.  no one is really talking to me.  my son gets angry when I pry.

I bought a small piece of beef that I always braise in sweet wine.  the daughter-in-law likes it that way.  last year I bought a quarter of a sheep's head and it was delicious.  my grandson really got off on the meat.  my son and wife were totally grossed out.  I didn't see any sheep heads tonight and there were no lungs to be had.  I bought a small tongue and will try to do it justice.  I have been on line for hours.  I think I got a decent recipe.  I have never cooked a tongue before.  I haven't really made a menu plan yet.

I am trying to get the house in order also.  I gave all three dogs tick treatments but it didn't really work.  I found a tick hosting on my arm near my vein.  I keep on changing the sheets and sprinkling rosemary oil on the furniture and dogs.   it worked in the past.  I think this heat wave has brought out a tremendous amounts of ticks.  I am tired from this. the children had ticks feeding on them and I took a lot of grief form the Sephardi grandma.  they took pix and sent them to the kids in Eilat.

I managed to buy a few outfits at the second hand boutique so I won't have to scramble last minute to find something to wear.  I can smell dust.  the window is open and it must be horrible outside.  all the cars are covered with dust right now.  I can't bring myself to check out the outside courtyard.  I am truly exhausted.  I ran to the bank this morning because I received an email letting me know that the banks were forced to give rebates to customers from 1990 through 2008.  we were supposed to receive 2500 shekels.

they told me at the bank that we were all getting an automatic deposit of 7 shekels.  there went all of our dreams of striking it rich. in my case, being able to afford all of the food that I bought for the upcoming holidays.  oh well.....the plumber fixed my running toilet and is coming tomorrow to replace my hall bathroom toilet.  I was going to cancel but he already ordered it.  more checks to give out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Party's Over

it is 11:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  my grandson just fell asleep.  his sister woke up and I put her back to sleep.  their mother was returning the deflate able trampoline that she rented for the birthday party and their father was fast asleep.  I cleaned up the entire yard and threw away all of the debris.  I took out the trash, put the leftovers in the fridge and washed all the serving bowls and silverware.  I did not get as much as a thank you from the daughter-in-law.

I spent the entire day cooking and baking.  I had a late start because I was exhausted.  I made two cheesecakes, a chocolate birthday cake and two mashed potato kugels.  I also baked 3 packages of frozen cheese barekas.  I ran to the local supermarket to buy more whipping cream and disposable aluminum baking pans.  I went to the large supermarket last night but they were out of the 9x11 aluminum pans.  I bought the round ones which I thought, would make serving a bit harder.  I know that most cheesecake is round but I have been making rectangular cheesecakes for years now.

I bought a sugar picture of 'Ben Ten' to put on the cake.  I was going to make a layer cake but I truly didn't have the patience.  I froze one of the cakes and used only one for the party.  my daughter-in-law asked me to make a small birthday cake.  she said that most people would prefer the cheesecake and the birthday cake would be a waste.  she bought the frozen barekas, tons of veggies to make a fresh salad and a huge watermelon.  I was not up for making lasagna and quite frankly, didn't have the money to do so.  I thought about buying mini pizzas or soy hot dogs but they were very expensive, too.

I bought a large sack of potatoes and made a huge pot of mashed potatoes.  I didn't have the energy to grate that many potatoes.  I don't have a large food processor.  I added grated onions and diced mushrooms, a lot of eggs and some flour and I had two kugels.  I would have liked to add more mushrooms but my son raided my pantry twice this week and ate the canned mushrooms.  the pashtida, as the Sephardim call kugel, was a big success.  it was a bit peppery but everyone liked it.  I had two servings, myself as well as two cheese barekas.  oh well....

I tasted the icing on the chocolate cake and had a taste of the cheesecake as well.  I made the icing with whipped cream and vanilla pudding.  I had a recipe for chocolate frosting but it involved cooking so I opted for the pudding version.  I spread the frosting on the cake but didn't pipe it on.  it didn't look fancy.  I placed the picture and scattered colored sprinkles on the cake.  it was and old fashioned looking party cake.  my grandson liked it.  all the kids wanted to eat part of the picture.  my daughter-in-law had called her mother in distress because she didn't have a birthday cake.  I don't  know if she didn't like my cake or really didn't think I had made one.

my daughter-in-law came home from work in a state.  I had picked up both kids from gan this afternoon.  I left the mashed potatoes on the stove and ran out to pick them up.  I had cleaned the backyard yesterday and bailed out the remaining greenish water in the large swimming pool.  I also bailed out the water in the wading pool.  I put the pool away in the storage shed.  it was a job and a half.  I brought down some chairs and went upstairs to bake the frozen barekas.  that took about another hour and a half.  last year while I was dealing with the barekas, my son presented my grandson with the bicycle that I had bought for him.  this year I didn't buy a gift.

I am planning on going to town in the morning to check out the second hand clothes store.  I had seen a dress there last week and it fit.  I had my heart set on buying that dress but it was promised to another lady.  somehow, the dress is back in the shop.  perhaps it really was destined for me.  we shall see.  I bought a small piece of meat for the holidays as well as organic whole wheat flour and brown sugar.  I make a honey cake for my daughter-in-law's father every year.  for some reason he prefers whole wheat.  this is quite unusual for a Sephardi person.  I also prefer whole wheat honey cake.  I am planning on baking and cooking next week. 

my neighbor gave me a small freezer so I am now able to make meals ahead of time and have enough room in the freezer.  I am quite excited about that.  I was planning on buying a small freezer when I finish paying off my new fridge.  I had enough room in my cooking area to accommodate the small freezer.  it's like the size of an office fridge.  it has 4 drawers.  it was the answer to my prayers.