Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Story of Noah — Good Friends in High Places

Rainbow Chocolate Balls

We all know the story of Noah — it rains, people start getting wet, but the ark is warm and cozy and in the end Noah finds a nice spot, high and dry and don’t we all love a happy ending?

 

Noah's Ark by Rebecca Shore

 

It was going to be a great Friday!  Ju-Boy and I were in the supermarket shopping for Shabbat when the heavens opened and the rain started coming down.  Everyone was smiling, rain is something we so desperately need here in Israel, and everyone loves the yoreh, the first rain of the season.  And how appropriate, since this was the Shabbat where we read Parshat Noach, the story of Noah.  Some of the checkout ladies started dancing in the parking lot, oblivious to the wet.  The guy who had fight with me at the cheese counter (he claims I cut in front of him, but how was I to know, he was standing in line at the meat counter at the time) smiled at me, and I smiled back.  Everyone here loves the first rain.  The weather hasn’t yet turned cold and after a long, hot summer, the first rain makes everyone happy.  Driving home while the drops pounded on the roof of the car, I watched the streets flood (in Ra’anana the streets flood even after a drizzle) and turned to Ju-Boy and said, “This is going to be a great Shabbat Noach!”  I couldn’t wait to get home and start braiding my challot and cook in my cozy house, filled with light and music and the smells of Shabbat coming out of my oven.

And then… boom!  Literally and figuratively.  A flash of lightning, the boom of thunder, and the lights flickered.  I quickly unplugged the computer and went back to braiding the challah.  Whew, that was close!  And then… boom!  And once again, I planned, God laughed, and the lights went out!  You could hear my scream all the way to Mount Ararat!  So the house darkened, the oven went cold, and we waited.  Then the lights flickered, our spirits were raised, and then, boom!  The lights went out again and the Miriyummy household entered the Middle Ages.  No electricity!  I had such plans for that electricity — I was going to bake challot, chickens, whip eggs whites and cream, even Ju-Boy was tenderly blow-torching a roast that was then going to get some oven time.  I quickly stuck my braided challah into the fridge and waited for the lights to come back on.  In the meantime, we started cooking on top of the stove (if you have an electric oven, you should have a gas hob).

Good friends in high (and dry) places

We called the Electric Company and heard a recording that the power cut was massive — Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Hod Hasharon, Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, we were all in the dark.  We had some friends who still had electricity, some friends who were busy hunting for candles.  Remember Serene Shar and Peaceful Perry from Headless Chicken?  They had electricity and said we could use their oven.  I quickly drove my challot over, leaving Ju-Boy to deal with the rest of the cooking over the stove in the darkening house.  The Electric Company promised to reconnect us at 4 PM, and when that came and went I quickly drove home through the flooded streets (and no working stoplights!) to get the chickens and shove those in Shar’s oven.  Shabbat was coming faster than a tsunami of floodwater and that’s when Shar and Perry truly proved that they were foul-weather friends and issued an invitation to eat with them that Friday night, a mingling of food and friends, 17 of us around the table basking in the light of the house and the light of Shabbat.  By the time we returned home around 10 PM that evening the lights were on and the day had been saved.  Don’t we all love a happy ending?

Rainbow Chocolate Balls

Even before the thunder went boom and the lights went out I had decided that we were going to have a dessert straight out of the story of Noah — everyone needs a rainbow.

The recipe isn’t mine, it’s Shy-Boy’s, so he’s my guest chef this week.  One of the best things about this recipe?  No electricity needed!

 

The ingredients

 

  • About 50 plain biscuits (we use petit beurre, two sleeves worth)
  • 200 grams (1 cup) margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (we use Dutch processed)
  • 1 egg
  • A few glugs of wine
  • Rainbow sprinkles

 

Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin. We normally use a food processor, but that's when we took electricity for granted.

 

 

Try to get a fine a crumb as possible.

 

 

Work the margarine in with your fingers until well blended.

 

 

Add one cup of sugar.

 

 

Blend well. The crumbs should have the texture of wet sand.

 

 

Add one cup of cocoa.

 

 

Blend well. The crumbs should have the texture of cocoa-colored wet sand.

 

 

Add the egg.

 

 

Add a few glugs of wine.

 

 

The crumbs should now have the texture of a stiff goop -- you know, you should be able to form balls that won't fall apart.

 

 

Get your paper casings ready. We started out with size #3 (pictured here) but quickly moved to a smaller #2.

 

 

Rainbow sprinkles are good for a Noah-themed chocolate ball. Shy-Boy claims the best coating is flaked coconut.

 

 

You should form the balls with damp hands. Having a bowl of water nearby (or a faucet) is a huge help.

 

 

You should make the balls about yea-big, but in actuality, make them any size you like.

 

 

Roll the balls in the rainbow spinkles until coated. This was the only part of the recipe in which I got to help. Shy-Boy was busy making the balls, I was busy rolling them in the sprinkles, it was a real Lucy and Ethel moment for us.

 

 

One perfect ball...

 

 

The recipe makes about 50 balls or so. Your mileage may vary depending on how big or small you make these babies...

 

Chill the balls in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so before serving.

We brought these to Shar and Perry’s house where they were a hit for dessert.  We brought them home to have with kiddush and for dessert for lunch the next day.  Keep them in a Tupperware in the fridge, handy for snacking, great with a cup of coffee, a bit of whisky, or just a colorful nosh on a rainy day.

Carnival!

Batya of me-ander is hosting this month’s Kosher Cooking Carnival. My (David Curwin’s) Japanese Pickled Radishes are featured, check them out if you missed them at Miriyummy.  Also featured are my posts for Crock Pot Brisket, my (Ruth Sirkis’) Rosh Hashana Honey Cake, Unstuffed Cabbage (Ju-Boy’s abomination), and finally, my Headless Chicken Couscous Salad.  Wow, didn’t I have a busy month?

Over at Haveil Havalim Headless Chicken makes another appearance.  Thanks to Ima On (And Off) The Bima for hosting another great batch of posts.

 

 

Headless Chicken

Ju-Boy's End of Summer Party -- 2009

 

I gave up many thing when I married Ju-Boy.  I gave up the Jerusalem mountain air.  I gave up quiet streets and living in a town with no stoplights.  I gave up a certain amount of my independence.  What I feel the most, however, is that I gave up my friends.  Okay, they are still my friends, but because I now live a one-hour’s drive away (long distance in the Israeli psyche), I don’t get to see them often, or at all.  I don’t get to bump into them at the grocery store, wave to them as I take my evening power-walk (oh yeah, I also gave up power-walks), I don’t get to exchange gossip outside the synagogue, and I don’t get to just hang out with them, either at the Shabbat table or for a coffee evening during the week.  I miss them. 

I gained many things when I married Ju-Boy.  I gained a house with stairs (my first time living in a house, not an apartment).  I gained living in a somewhat cosmopolitan city with a main street full of fun shops.  I gained the Cooking Channel (the X said we couldn’t afford it because we were already paying the cable company a ton for all his sports channels).  I gained the use of Ju-Boy’s amazing turbo oven, and I gained his friends. 

When we spoke about them I used to call them “your friends,” and he would always correct me and say “our friends.”  But, tachles,  they started out as his friends, and I then began to refer to them as my friends-in-law.  Regardless of the fact that I even knew some of them longer than he did, they were his friends.  But little by little, I have taken over.  Shar calls on the phone and Ju-Boy is ready for a chat, but she wants to speak to me!  Yummy Mummy calls my cell phone for the Shabbat meal invitation.  Most of them read my blog, but how many of them even know he has one, huh? 

John shows off his hands-free drinking technique

 

I like his, erm, my friends, they’re good people, and they make sure that with all the hustle and bustle of busy families, smachot, grandchildren and life in general, that we still get together for a laugh.  We make sheva brachot celebrations together for our children, we try to go away together for a Shabbat here or there, we drink Marc’s whisky and eat Yummy Mummy’s cake creations.  We’re in and out of each other’s houses on Shabbatot for meals, and a few times a year we get together for holiday potlucks. 

It was the annual Simchat Torah potluck that made me go headless chicken.  I had just started a new job and needed to put in some time on erev chag.  Shar was hosting the event at her house (at least 50 people were expected) and Ju-Boy had volunteered four dishes — challah, fish pie, couscous salad and chocolate babka.  Isn’t he the most altruistic husband you can imagine?  Four dishes, when most people were making only two.  But both of us cook, so that makes sense.  What doesn’t make sense is that all four dishes are MY specialities.  Ju-Boy helped by giving a running critique of my fish-skinning skills.  Brave boy, I was holding a sharp knife… 

So it’s erev chag and I have four dishes to make in two hours. I didn’t get a chance to make any the night before because we were out late (visiting one of my, erm, our friends from my Jerusalem days), and that morning my boss decided he needed just one more email, just one more thing, just one more… aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!   I got home from the office, saw the mess in the kitchen, the mayhem in the rest of the house, and that’s when I went headless chicken! 

like a headless chicken  (British) also like a chicken with its head cut off (American

if you do something like a headless chicken, you do it very quickly and without thinking carefully about what you are doing (usually in continuous tenses) I’ve got so much work to do – I’ve been running around like a headless chicken all week. He was racing around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do the work of two people.
Definition thanks to The Free Dictionary
One of the great miracles of Judaism is that no matter how early or how late the holiday or Shabbat starts, you are always ready at the last minute.  Amazingly, everything got done on time, and when I lit the candles and ushered in the final holiday of the season, the house was relatively calm, I was relatively calm, and even the floors were clean.  That night it was just the family for dinner, the quiet before the storm.

 

We arrived at Shar’s house the next day after all the singing and dancing  and boozing lechayims at shul.  Since we probably live the furthest away, we were the last to arrive.  The house was full of friends, their kids, their kids’ kids, invited guests and Shar and Perrys dog Chief looking for attention (their cat was smart and found a hiding place).  And yet Shar was amazingly calm.  Whether she had started on the whisky early, or had swallowed a bottle of Rescue Remedy, I wanted some of that!  I think it was just her natural personality, Serene Shar and Peaceful Perry, surrounded by good friends, safe in the knowledge that we all pull together to celebrate en masse.  The next time I go headless chicken I need to channel me some of that…
Couscous Salad

I first tasted this at my (our) friend Shosh’s house back when I lived in Givat Ze’ev.  I politely took a portion, then seconds, then thirds, this was yummy!  I got the recipe, and over the years it’s evolved to what it is today.
  • 350 grams couscous (1 package)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soup mix
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 5 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 teaspoons grated gingerroot (or to taste, I use almost a tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  1. Pour the couscous into a large bowl.  Mix in the soup powder and olive oil, stir well to combine (I use a fork).  Add the boiling water and let soak until all the water has been absorbed.
  2. Place the carrots and parsley in a food processor (steel knife).  Zest the lemon with a Microplane and add it to the food processor.  Process until a minced finely.  Add the juice from the lemon, olive oil, ginger and pepper.  Process until a paste has been formed.
  3. Add paste to the ready couscous and mix together.
  4. Add the chickpeas and mix together.
  5. Turn into a salad bowl and chill for at least two hours.

This is a great dish to serve on Saturday lunch, or to take to a potluck with 50 of your best and newest friends. 

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