I am a classic second generation Holocaust survivor.
My third generation kids are unabashedly Jewish and unabashedly Israeli and I so wish my parents were around to see how I have raised my phoenixes out of the fires and ashes of the camps.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “What’s it like to be the child of Holocaust survivors?”
Today is the 22nd Annual Ra’anana Marathon, which was meant to be two weeks ago but was canceled due to rain. Lots of rain. In the last week the weather has warmed up considerably. Granted, winters in Ra’anana are not exactly Siberian, but you can get cold, especially indoors. In fact, sometimes I walk the dog just to get outside and warm up a bit.
While I hate the hot and muggy sauna that Ra’anana becomes in the summer months, the springtime can be quite enjoyable.
I may have mentioned once or twice, or twenty times, that Ju-Boy and I are the parental units of a blended family. Sometimes we can be one big happy Brady Bunch, and at other times we resemble the Manson family. With a large cast of characters, we all have our ways of dealing with the situation. Ju-Boy and I prefer to deal with our reality by running away from it. Every now and again we will find someone to watch the dog and just disappear…
The World Wide Web is a very interesting place. You dip your tootsies into the deep waters of the Internet and you never know who is going to take a nibble. You end up finding all sorts of people from your past.
I’ve reconnected with half of my sixth grade class. I found the guy I had a crush on when I was 11. I’m chatting with my long lost best friend from the playground. People you think are always going to be part of your Once Upon A Time can become part of your Here And Now, and quite possibly part of your Happily Ever After. For example, there was this guy I used to trade jokes with over the ether back in the 90s. In 2005 we traded wedding rings. Okay, so that one was a bit over the top. Life isn’t always going to be so trippy.
Sometimes you meet people over the net that you’ve never met in person. I’d been reading Mrs. S.’s blog for a while, living through her personal angst as she renovated her house, then just taking a voyeristic peep into her family life, and finally learning a new language, Hebrish. I’d comment here, comment there, but no connection was really forged until a certain Icelandic volcano forced Miriyummy to be born, and then the connection became two-way. And then one day, Mrs. S. actually emailed me!
It seems we had another connection, one hanging by a thread, but a connection nonetheless. It so happens that Mrs. S.’s mom and Ju-Boy used to work together once upon a time in the last century. Mrs. S. never actually had the pleasure of meeting Ju-Boy in the flesh, but her family tells a story about him, and I quote (with permission, of course):
Sixteen years ago, before my sister’s wedding, my mother told her coworkers that the wedding was going to be starting on time and that they should plan accordingly.
[Ju-Boy] didn’t believe her. He joked that EVERYONE claims that “we’re starting on time” but that no Israeli wedding ever does. However, my mother insisted that this wedding would be different, and so they bet on it. They determined what “on time” means and decided that the loser would have to give the winner a chocolate bar.
Anyway, as anyone who knows my parents could have guessed, but to the shock of those (like [Ju-Boy]) who had never attended one of our family’s smachot, the wedding was — of course — very much on time.
My mother didn’t come into work for the first few days after the wedding, but when she finally returned, she found a whole chain of mini chocolate bars covering her desk…
Okay, maybe life really is that trippy…
And in one of the most awkward segues in the history of this blog, that leads us to the recipe for this week — Chocolate Chicken. Okay, let’s not all throw up at once. It really isn’t Chocolate Chicken, but the recipe does have chocolate in it. Mole (pronounce molay) sauce is common in Mexico and usually served over a variety of different foods. I like to serve it over chicken. The original Mexican recipe can have over 20 different ingredients and may or may not contain chocolate. I like to add the chocolate since it gives the sauce a rich body, serves as a good talking point and supplies excellent shock value to your guests.
- 8 chicken pieces (we use the thigh quarters, known in Israel as the meshulash, or the triangle)
- salt, pepper and paprika to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for browning
- 1 more tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped medium fine
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (now empty can) filled with water
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 50 grams (2 ounces) dark, bittersweet chocolate
- Rub the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper and paprika. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the chicken pieces top-side down and brown. After about 5 minutes, turn and cook the bottom sides for another 2 minutes or so. Remove to a baking dish. You may have to brown the chicken in two batches, but make sure you have enough space in your baking dish that the pieces are all on one level.
- Add the one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan in which you browned the chicken, and bring up to heat again. Toss in the chopped onions and let caramelize until golden.
- Toss in the minced garlic and stir for a moment.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, and then take the empty can, fill it with water and add that to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Add the paprika, chili powder, cumin and coriander. Stir.
- Taste, and then add the salt and pepper.
- Bring the heat down until the sauce starts to bubble, and then let it bubble until reduced by one-half. This could take anywhere between 15 minutes to half an hour.
- Add the chocolate and stir until melted.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, cover and bake for 1/2 an hour.
- Serve with rice, tortillas, quinoa, anything you like, but serve with panache!
Once upon time, about 26 and a bit years ago, the X told me we were having a guest for Shabbat. “He’s Irish, he’s funny, you’ll like him.” He was, he was, and I did. He busted up my bathroom door, he practically flashed my neighbors (not on purpose) and spoke to me in that Lucky Charms leprechaun voice. Shabbat was magically delicious! I was eight months pregnant with Sassy at the time, and I laughed so hard that Shabbat I thought I would go into early labor.
Irish Jonny went on to marry Aussie Vicki and over the years the family grew to include Awesome Eytan, Famous Seamus, Lambie Leah and the ever mischievous Bambi (their baby deer who’s growing some serious antlers, watch out girls).
I met Jonny back in Chapter One, and now we flash forward to Chapter Two. I’ve been firmly ensconced in Ra’anana for several years now. Sassy and Nomush are grown and live elsewhere, Sassy with her Sabraman in London, Nomush in Jerusalem. My baby, Didi, has found her niche here in Ra’anana, but my Tinky was at loose ends. She lives in Jerusalem with the X, but tried to make it under my roof for a while. When I first moved into the Ju-Boy household Tinky was in boarding school, so she never really lived with me here in R-Town. After her year of National Service she moved in. She fitted seamlessly into the family, found a job, but was unhappy. Tinky is my party girl, a real social butterfly, and she missed her gaggle of friends in Jerusalem. In my effort to rev up her Ra’anana social life I tried to find her some friends. Bad move. Sad move. How embarrassing is it for your mother to find you some friends? If my mom had tried that when I was 20 I would have left the country (wait a minute, I did that anyway…). So Tinky returned to the hills of Jerusalem and her father’s house, where her favorite hang-outs are all within walking distance.
One Shabbat, when she came to visit us here in R-Town we invited Irish Jonny, Aussie Vicki and their hybrid crew over for a meal. Famous Seamus is Tinky’s age, so I said, “He’s (part) Irish, he’s funny, you’ll like him.” Much rolling of the eyes ensued, but this time Miriyummy planned and also got to laugh. Tinky and Famous Seamus hit it off, and even though she no longer lives with us, she has a friend in Ra’anana. They meet up every time she comes to visit and the house is filled with their laughter.
Famous Seamus is fond of my desserts, which I find very flattering since his mom is such an amazing cook. I would sell my soul to the Devil for her Pavlova. She’s Carine Goren with an Aussie accent. A few weeks ago I was playing around with my usual brownie recipe, adding a bit of this and tossing in a bit of that.They were a hit with everyone, but they had no name. How sad for them to be stuck in Brownie Limbo. Then Famous Seamus came over one Shabbat to hang with Tinky, and the smile on his face and the disgusting sounds he made while inhaling these babies gave me the idea to name them after him. See people, make my kids smile and you too can be immortalized in chocolate!
Famous Seamus Brownies
They’re more-ish, they’re funny, you’ll like them.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
- 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into bits
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature (I usually just use 3 eggs)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup craisins (or raisins)
- 2 cups (or 300 grams) white chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (350 degrees F). Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease or line with parchment paper (my preference) a 13 X 9 inch (32 x 23 cm) pan, set aside.
- Melt the butter with the chocolate, either in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir to a melded, yummy mixture. Allow to cool for 10 minutes so you don’t scramble the eggs when you add them in.
- In a large bowl, beats the eggs and the egg yolk (if using) together with the sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and a pale yellow. Then beat in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until smooth.
- With a wooden spoon or a spatula stir in the flour and the salt, until just incorporated. Do not beat (or I will call the Brownie Police for aggravated assault of brownie batter).
- Add the pistachios, craisins and white chocolate chips. Stir until just evenly combined.
- Pour (more like cajole) the thick batter into the prepare pan. Bake for 35 minutes. The middle of the cake will be soft, but the brownies will set up as they cool. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least two hours.
- If you have used the parchment paper, just lift the brownies out of the pan and cut into squares. At this point they can be frozen, or just served to the hungry hoards who have come drifting in while smelling the amazing chocolate aroma drifting out of the house.