Monthly Archives: August 2010

Slow Down You Move Too Fast

The other day I was standing in line at the local post office.  I was about to do something I hadn’t done in quite a while:  buy a stamp and mail a letter.  It was a long line, and the Ministry of Communication has generously provided two wide-screen televisions for our entertainment.  All they played was an endless and very short loop of commercials touting the postal services now available over the Internet.  Usually I do most of the official errands over the net.  I used to run around town, from the post office, to the bank, to the National Insurance Institute, but now I do it all online.  Instantly.    Even writing mail is online and instant.  Except for when I need a stamp.

I started thinking about the instant world we now live in.  We can do many things over the Internet today that we couldn’t even envision a decade ago.  Send a chatty little letter to a far-away friend?  No need, just shoot off a quick email and click on send.  Or post something to your friends’ wall on Facebook.  Just want to say hi?  Send them a text on your cell phone.  Mail a letter?  Who does that anymore?

Amazingly accurate predictions from 1993 — but tell me, what’s a phone booth?

All I find in my mailbox these days are credit card statements and junk mail.  Even the credit card companies are imploring me to sign up online, log in and save a tree.  Everyone wants to save paper and take up byte space.

As it was almost my turn (remember, I’m still in the post office), a young girl, around 11 years old or so, approached the clerk and told him she needed to send a letter to America, but she didn’t know how.  The clerk smiled (as did everyone ever the age of 30 in line).  When I was 11 I was writing letters to my friends just because we loved getting mail.  I had a good friend in Brooklyn, we didn’t speak on the phone for years, we just sent letters.  It was a huge thing to get really cool stationary for your birthday.  Getting a letter was the most exciting thing next to the season premiere of Mork and Mindy!  And here was this young girl, weaned on cell phones and instant chat screens, needing to send a letter for the first time, and she didn’t even know how.  The clerk was patient, sold her a stamp, showed her where to stick it, and took the letter and posted it.

When it was my turn I also asked for a stamp.  Again, the clerk smiled.  “Not too many kids mail letters these days,” he said to me.  “The whole world wants something in an instant.

It’s true.  We just want to blink our eyes, wriggle our noses and everything arrives in an instant.  Communication, knowledge, the television show you missed last night, even food.  I want my calories and I want them now!

We need to slow down, before we burn out.  So come travel with me, back to the past, when we were more patient.  Remember when food was worth waiting for?

Forest Fruits Sorbet

This refreshing and delicious dessert can take a while to make, especially if you use an ice cream machine and forget to chill the container for 24 hours beforehand (which is what happened to me).  Still worth the wait!

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups pureed forest fruits
  1. Boil the water and sugar together.  The sugar should be dissolved and then let the syrup boil for another two minutes.  Cool.  Be patient, the stuff has to get to room temperature at least.  Feel free to stick the pan in the fridge.
  2. Mix the sugar syrup together with the fruit puree.  Pour into your ice cream machine and process according to the machine’s instructions.
  3. Alternatively, you can just place the stuff in a big Tupperware bowl and bung it in the freezer.  Every two hours take it out and mix the stuff around to combine and get nice and slushy.  Do this two or three times.  By this time tomorrow you should have a wonderful sorbet, patiently refreshing.

Worth the wait!

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Haveil Havalim #281 — The Summer’s End Edition

One of my most favorite bloggers, Ruti, over at Ki Yachol Nuchal, is hosting this week’s edition of Haveil Havalim.  She’s calling it The Summer’s End Edition, but summer’s end is entirely subjective.  School may be starting next week, but we’re in for at least a month of hot weather, if not more…  I’m so waiting for the Winter’s Here edition!

My post about our little camping trip, Roughing It, made it into the mix, so why do you head on over and check it out?

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Photo by -Sylvie- of Recipezaar.com

 

My mother, of blessed memory, hated the heat.  Born in Lithuania, she spent the first 35 years of her life either there, or freezing her tushy off in Sweden (with a short stop in Bergen Belsen, also not exactly warm, balmy breezes).  My mother loved freezing her tushy off, she hated the heat.  When I first became engaged to The X, with an August date set for the wedding in Israel, my mother kvetched about the trip which would take place during the hottest month of the year.  After the glass was broken and my mother hugged me under the chuppah, she whispered in my ear, “If you ever give birth to any babies in the summer, I am not coming to help!” 

No summer babies, do you hear me? Oh, and mazal tov!

Mommy plans, God giggles… 

Ever hear the phrase lazy days of summer?  Hah!  I have four of the most gorgeous daughters on the planet, each one more beautiful than the next, each one simply exquisite, each one born in the summer. 

Aren’t they beautiful?

Three of my gorgeous girlies have birthdays at the end of July, all within two weeks of each other.  Nomush, my maverick, decided to let me experience pregnancy during a record-breaking swelter, all the way through to the end of August. 

And you know what?  My mom came out each time to help!  In the multiple diaper-induced coma back then I am not sure I fully appreciated her sacrifice.  Back then we had no air-conditioning, and I’ve never seen anyone wait for the chill of the Jerusalem evenings more. 

It’s never to hot for a cuddle — Savta and Didi

Yes, it was hot under there!

Five years ago I got married again, and yes, it was during the summer.  When I called my mom with the good/bad news, she said to me, “Oy!  Miraleh!  Again with the summer?”  And this time, with the wisdom accumulated over  score of years (in between weddings), I absolved my mother from coming out.  She loved the pictures I sent her. 

So July and August can be busy months in the Miriyummy household.  Once upon a time there were birthday parties to plan, Bat Mitzvah celebrations to coordinate, presents to buy, cakes to bake… oh yeah, the cakes!  I once tried to get the girls to have ice-cream cakes for their parties, but all they really have ever wanted was a deep chocolate cake (like their Miri-mummy, can I blame them?). 

Deep Chocolate Birthday Cake with Miriyummy Ganache 

I’ve made bajillions of birthday cakes over the years, but back in 2004 the lovely Molly53 posted a cake on Recipezaar that has become THE birthday cake in our household.  We accept no substitutions.  I usually make a non-dairy version. 

Cake: 

  • 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine (200 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup cold black coffee
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Ganache: 

  • 300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate
  • 1 cup cream or non-dairy substitute (I use Rich Whip)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).
  2. Grease and dust an 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) cake pan with cocoa. Actually, I just line it with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and add sugar a little at a time.
  4. Add eggs the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa together 3 times.  Sometimes I don’t bother to do this and the cake still bakes beautifully.
  6. Add the coffee to the batter alternatively with the flour mixture.
  7. Mix well after each addition.
  8. Then add vinegar and vanilla.  Mix well again.
  9. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out dry. Leave to cool completely.
  10. To make the ganache, simply melt the chocolate and cream together, either on top of the stove over low heat, or nuked in the microwave for about three minutes.
  11. Pour over the cooled cake and let set.
  12. This cake actually tastes great when kept in the fridge.  You can also decorate it with little silver sprinkles or anything that shows up well against the deep, dark chocolate of the ganache.

Using parchment paper enables you to lift the cake easily out of the pan and serve

 

Today is the 12th of Elul — happy 25th birthday Nomush! 

Today is the 22nd of August — happy 21st birthday Chip!

Miriyummy — A Guide To The Perplexed

Ever wonder who all the people are that I talk about in my blog?  Here’s a guide to the Miriyummy family — two parents, eight kids, and more, many more!

You can always find this on the side of the blog, along with Conversions — Metric and Imperial and a listing of My Blogged Recipes.

Miriyummy — A Guide To The Perplexed

The Miriyummy Family -- we put the FUN in dysFUNctional

Haveil Havalim #280 Is Up At Soccer Dad

Haveil Havalim has come home to Soccer Dad this week.  I’ve got two posts featured there this week:

Lots of my favorite bloggers are featured this week, why don’t you head over there and check them out…

Alo featured this week has to be one of my favorite feel-good YouTube videos about Israel — Chazak Amenu, We Stand As One by Voices for Israel.  How can sometime that makes you feel so good also make you cry?

Roughing It

A five star tent -- one common room, two bedrooms, but no kitchen!

This post was written on Thursday evening, 12 August, scribbled in the dusk…

I really have had an underpriviledged childhood.  Tonight will be the first night ever that I will sleep in a tent. Shy-Boy cannot believe that I have lived to the ripe old age of mumble mumble without ever having experienced the sublime nirvana that is tent dwelling.

You see, yonks ago when I went camping, we didn’t have tents.  We slumbered in sleeping bags under the trees, in the rain, on desert sands, by the seashore, always under the open sky.  We didn’t have a need for tents, we were roughing it.  We cooked over open fires, letting the chicken pieces fall into the mud, the ash, the dirt, and using the Three Second Rule, just tossing the food back on the fire.  It was delicious!

Ju-Boy and Shy-Boy go camping each summer, leaving me behind in the blissful air-conditioning, watching reruns of House or Doctor Who in wonderful solitude.  Tonight I have joined them, because, I have been told, I cannot go through life without roughing it at least once in a tent.

The boys work hard while Miriyummy documents the process

You should have heard me earlier today making fun of the Love of My Life and his youngest progeny.  They set up a tent with two bedrooms opening out of a central entranceway.  We have blow-up mattresses!  We have a portable barbeque!  I have brought my BlackBerry to check emails!  Shy-Boy is playing games on Ju-Boy’s iPhone while Ju-Boy grills entrecote steaks and is making a salad.  No dirt encrusted chicken for the likes of us!

Gourmet roughing it

With all of this luxury, we are still roughing it.  We are the poor neighbors at this campground.  The family two tents away have brought a television and home cinema.  Another family has brought a generator and a huge chest freezer.  The teens a few meters away are bopping along to Middle Eastern disco on a huge sound system complete with strobe lights.  People are cooking spaghetti on electric hobs.  A little further away I can see a state-of-the-art plasma television, hooked up to a karaoke machine!  You wouldn’t want to go camping and miss out on who gets eliminated from Kochav Nolad (Israeli Idol).

One family shlepped out a huge television and spent the whole night screening their sons' Bar Mitzvah videos, complete with belly dancers and ulalations!

Huge chest freezer connected to its own generator -- are they camping out or moving in?

Teen camp with sound system and strobe lights -- they actually turned out to be the quietest group that sleepless night...

Okay, it’s getting dark and as we have neglected to bring a sound and light show with us, scribbling all this down is getting more and more difficult.  I suppose I could tap this all into my BlackBerry, but, hey, I’m roughing it!

One confession — tonight we’re going to be treated to the Perseids meteor shower, and Shy-Boy has brought his telescope.  There is definitely something to be said about smoothing out the rough edges.

Tent city the morning after

Shy-Boy made us smoked tuna sandwiches for breakfast!

Smoked Tuna

  • 1 can tuna packed in oil (not water!)
  • 1 paper towel
  • 1 match

Smoking the tuna will take about 10 minutes until the flames die down

  1. Open the can of tuna, but do not drain the oil.  Fold a paper towel into 4 and place on top of the can, pressing down into the oil.  Turn and do likewise with the other side, so that the entire paper towel is saturated in tuna oil.  Place the can on a flame-proof surface.  Strike the match and ignite the paper towel.  Stand back and watch.  Take pictures if this is the first time you are doing this and your friends won’t believe what you had for breakfast that morning. 
  2. Let the flames die down of their own accord.  This can take anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the oil in the can.  In the meantime, you can prepare a roll with cheese, scallions, whatever you like in your tuna sandwich.  No mayo is necessary.
  3. Once the flames have died down, the tuna will be nice and smokey.  There really is no need for draining now, all the oil has been burned away, leaving behind a wonderful barbequey flavor.  Enjoy!

Not exactly gourmet, but who needs gourmet when you're roughing it? Delicious!

Holy Grail

A very unique Do Not Disturb sign

Have you ever wanted something that was just out of reach?  Sometimes it’s just there, over the horizon, you can almost taste it, but it’s just… out… of… reach!  Such is the case with the Carmel Forest Spa.  Ju-Boy and I had been wanting to go there for the longest time, ever since we first got married.

We go away at least twice or three times a year.  Living in a blended family is not as easy as the Brady Bunch made it seem.  Everyone in our family has issues, both pre-and post marriage.  Every so often Ju-Boy and I tell the kids we’re disappearing for a while.  They either stay with their other parent, or with friends, or they have a bayit rek (empty house), where they invite all their friends to come have an adult-free Shabbat together (can you spell Risky Business?).  Believe me, this is much cheaper than marriage counseling!

Taking your bicycle through Egyptian customs evoked scenes from Midnight Express

We’ve been to Eilat (and bicycled into Egypt), the Dead Sea, twee little tzimmers (bed and breakfasts) in the north, even an Alpine cottage on the Lebanese border, but we have always chaleshed (yearned as only Jews can yearn) for the Carmel Forest Spa.  I’ve been squirreling away the shekels, and we were finally able to achieve this Holy Grail of alone time for our fifth wedding anniversary.

This place was everything we had imagined.  The solarium was peaceful, the massages and treatments blissful, the meditation class relaxing (we both fell asleep and snored in class) and the food… the food was divine!  Flying to Venice for the week would have been cheaper, but this was at the top of our To Do List.

When you go to a hotel, have you ever been tempted to take away a souvenier?  You know, a towel, a robe, plumbing fixtures, plasma televisions?  Come on, fess up!  This time I was desperate to take something home with me.  Actually, not something, someone!  I wanted to make room in my suitcase for Uriya, the spa’s patissier.  All the food in the spa was amazing, but the desserts, OMG the desserts!  By Day 2 I had started pacing myself at each meal just so I could have plenty of room for Uriya’s handiwork.  The pecan pie!  The tri-chocolate pyramid!  The lemon meringue pie!  And most special and delicious of all, the halvah parfait!

Well, I didn’t get to take Uriya home with me, but I stalked him enough while I was there and he generously offered to give me the recipe for the halvah parfait.  I don’t think I could have brought Uriya home anyway, I already have Ju-Boy eclipsing my culinary talents on the savory dishes, let me still be the Queen of the Sweet Stuff at home.

Man Plans God Laughs Department:  Uriya and I spent about a month emailing each other back and forth, but in the end, unfortunately for me, the Carmel Forest would not release its halvah parfait recipe as it is still in rotation in their dining room.  So the story of my Holy Grail has a secondary Holy Grail to it, my search for halvah parfait.  It’s taken me all of July and the beginning of August, three different recipes and my own tinkering with the variations, but I think I finally got it.  It’s not exactly the intense pleasure I experienced with Uriya’s parfait, but it’s as close as I am going to get without an industrial ice cream machine… or a kidnapping.

I had to put this in a bowl and have this for breakfast just to take the photograph -- oh, the things I have to go through for my readers...

Miriyummy Halvah Parfait

  • 1/2 pound (400 grams) halvah, any flavor (I used vanilla and chocolate marbled halvah)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cream (I used a non-dairy version)
  1. Grate or grind the halvah and heat it over a low flame with the water until melted.  Cool.
  2. Beat the yolks an add the sugar.  Beat for about 4 minutes until creamy and light.
  3. Beat the cream and fold into the yolk/sugar mixture.
  4. Beat the whites and fold into the mixture.
  5. Fold in the cooled halvah mixture into the fluffy creamy mixture.
  6. Freeze according to your ice cream machine or in a Tupperware.  After about 3 hours remove the parfait from the freezer and fold it all together again, as this might separate in the freezer.

So what do you do when you’ve achieved the top of your To Do List?  Slot in another Holy Grail — what do you guys think of Venice?

Man plans, God laughs, but I got a good recipe out of it in the end

The Pre-Holiday Kosher Cooking Carnival

The pre-holiday edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is up over at me-ander.  Batya has a great line-up this month full of summer experiences and recipes.

I’ve got three posts featured this month:

Lots of other yummy things to make in the carnival — don’t take my word for it, check it out yourselves!

Cheddar Salvation

Life can be good, even with danger lurking behind you

It’s a good thing I hang out with Ju-Boy, because he always sees the glass as half-full.  I tend to be a bit more pessimistic, having been disappointed on many occasions.  I was recently reminded of a joke I heard back in a university psych 101 class:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith have twin boys, Billy and Bobby.  Billy goes through life crying over every little thing, while Bobby is irritatingly optimistic.  They take the twins to a pediatric psychologist who asks that they leave the kids with him for 24 hours and he promises overnight success. 

The next evening they meet the psychologist at the door and he looks like he’s been through hell.  “I don’t know what I was thinking,” he tells the parents, “but your kids have broken the mold.  I put Billy in a room full of toys, thinking that would cheer him up, but…”

As they walk down the corridor they hear the sound of a little boy weeping.  They enter the room and there is Billy, sitting in the middle of as many toys as a boy would want, and he’s crying his eyes out.  “Billy, sweetie, what’s the matter?” asks his mother.  “Look at all these wonderful toys, why are you crying?  Why don’t you play with them?”

“Because if I play with the toys, I’ll break them!” came Billy’s answer.

“You think that’s strange, wait until you see Bobby,” said the psychologist.  As they walk down the corridor to Bobby’s room they are assailed by the most horrible smell of horse manure, and as they get closer to the room, the see that the door is open.  They can hear Bobby whistling while he flings handful after handful of horse manure into the corridor.  “I put your son in a room full of horse poo to try to get him down a little off his permanent high, but it doesn’t seems to be working.”

“Bobby, sweetie,” cried his mother, “why are you so happy playing in all this horse manure?”  Bobby’s answer?  “Because somewhere under all this horse poo, there’s got to be a pony!”

And that sums up my husband.  He’s always looking for the pony.  God loves him, how can life be bad, even when it looks bad?  Me?  I’m not crying, I just like to call myself realistic.  When things are going well, I want them to always be like that.  I don’t want the glass to be half-full if I’m enjoying the wine, I WANT A FULL GLASS OF WINE!!!!!!!!!!!

Lately I’ve come across a blog that I enjoy reading — Pancakes and French Fries.  It seems that the blogger, Jules, was having a bad month.  A month full of ill children, supermarket mishaps, balded dogs and finally, what can only be the epitome of bad experiences, and here I quote Jules verbatim, “Shortly before we left for the store I slipped in a puddle of urine, and it wasn’t mine.”

Okay, I’ve been having a bad month.  Actually, a bad summer.  Come to think of it, it’s been a bad year.  But then I start to think about Ju-Boy’s conviction that God loves him, and maybe I should hitch a ride on his star.  And while I’m not slipping around in someone else’s wee, I can take a leaf from Jules, at least I can comfort myself with these amazing chewy cheesy cookies.

Cheddar Salvation

The original recipe as per Jules can be found in her blog entry.  She calls them Cheddar Pecan Crisps.  But my version has no pecans, and I’ve played around with it a bit more, but they’ve made this day a glass half-full.

 

 

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (8 ounces, 225 grams) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon za’atar (or oregano)
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) pine nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F).
  2. In a mixer, combine the butter and cheddar cheese.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Do not overmix.
  4. With wet hands (to prevent sticking), pinch off some of the dough, about a heaping teaspoon’s worth, and roll into a ball.  Place the balls about an inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Flatten down the balls with the tines of a fork.  It helps to dip the fork in flour because the dough is very sticky.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes until brown.  Remove to cool.
  6. As Jules claims, these little cheddary bites of salvation are crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.  Serve with a full glass of wine. 

     

     

Cheddar Salvation -- is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Haveil Havalim #279 — It’s Almost Elul Edition

Ima On and Off the Bima is hosting this week’s edition of Haveil Havalim, and this time It’s Almost Elul!  My Rapunzel post made the list, so why don’t you visit the Ima and check it all out.

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