Monthly Archives: August 2010
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
- 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.
- Mix the sugar syrup together with the fruit puree. Pour into your ice cream machine and process according to the machine’s instructions.
- 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.
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?
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!”
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate
- 1 cup cream or non-dairy substitute (I use Rich Whip)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).
- Grease and dust an 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) cake pan with cocoa. Actually, I just line it with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and add sugar a little at a time.
- Add eggs the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- 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.
- Add the coffee to the batter alternatively with the flour mixture.
- Mix well after each addition.
- Then add vinegar and vanilla. Mix well again.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out dry. Leave to cool completely.
- 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.
- Pour over the cooled cake and let set.
- 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.
Today is the 12th of Elul — happy 25th birthday Nomush!
Today is the 22nd of August — happy 21st birthday Chip!
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!
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?
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.
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!
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).
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.
- 1 can tuna packed in oil (not water!)
- 1 paper towel
- 1 match
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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)
- Grate or grind the halvah and heat it over a low flame with the water until melted. Cool.
- Beat the yolks an add the sugar. Beat for about 4 minutes until creamy and light.
- Beat the cream and fold into the yolk/sugar mixture.
- Beat the whites and fold into the mixture.
- Fold in the cooled halvah mixture into the fluffy creamy mixture.
- 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?
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!