Monthly Archives: December 2010
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.
I have just lit the yahrzeit candle for my father. Tonight and tomorrow is his yahrzeit, 8 years since he passed away, according to the Jewish calendar. He had had problems with his heart his whole life. First it was broken in the Holocaust. His family was wiped away, most of them taken off to Auschwitz. In the late 40s he patched it together and found, loved and married my mother. In the 60s my parents adopted first me, and then my brother, and each time my father’s heart grew stronger, strengthened by family, the one thing that made life worth living for him.
It was in the late Seventies that he had his first heart attack. Another two followed in the 80s, and an “incident” in the 90s. In 2002 he had a quadruple bypass. He survived the surgery, but complications set in, hindered his recuperation, and he died six weeks later.
My father always said that he felt he was given a second chance at life. He loved life, and taught me and my brother that it was precious and not to be wasted. He so desperately wanted to live in Israel, but my mother had had enough wandering and he settled down with her in New York, and lived vicariously through me and my life in Israel. He once told me that it made him so happy that my children were the first members of our family in two thousand years to be born in the Jewish homeland.
So because my father loved life, revered it, I have chosen to celebrate his life on his yahrzeit, not to mourn him. Every year I cook up a big Hungarian feast, making all the foods he loved, and we invite friends and sit down at the table and raise a glass to a life almost extinguished, but brought back into the light.
Last year my father’s yahrzeit fell on the day that I was traveling to the States to clean out my mother’s apartment after she died. I didn’t have the time, and being deep in mourning for my mother, the inclination to put on a festive meal. So I went to a Hungarian bakery and bought some cakes and we celebrated the sweetness in life with the sweetness of Hungarian pastry. This year, this week, on this day my life, both vocational and personal, has taken a turn for the busy. Very busy. So on my way home from work I stopped off at that bakery once more and brought home some kyortosh, which isn’t really a Hungarian pastry, but is making a splash here in Israel as one. My father, who enjoyed a sweet nosh just as much as a savory bowl of my mother’s gulyas, would have enjoyed a bit with a hot cup of coffee, I know it.
Something else my father used to enjoy was singing songs in Hebrew, any song. Badly. My father so could not sing, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying him serenading me with a little Numi Numi each night as he put me to bed. And later on, after we had traveled to Israel for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah, the song Rak B’Yisrael got stuck in his head and we all had to listen to him singing that as he sat reading the paper. And davka today my attention was brought to something that my father would have loved. I have a collection of photos on Facebook, and album called Only in Israel, filled with pictures that are unique to our sometimes odd but always wonderful and country. My friend Judi sent me an email to congratulate me, my Facebook album has been set to music and has been turned into a YouTube video. Here’s the link. My father would have loved it!
Welcome to the 61st Kosher Cooking Carnival — the Tevet 5771 issue! As I’m putting together this issue it is still Kislev. We are in the midst of Chanuka and the candles are burning, as is our wonderful land of Israel, both physically and psychologically. The horrific forest fire in the Carmel Forest has claimed 41 lives (edited after posting — 42). The weather continues to be hotter than normal for this time of year. As the sun continues to shine and balmy weather brings warm breezes and banishes all thoughts of a wintry Chanuka, we still continue with our holiday traditions, the frying of latkes, the filling of sufganiyot, the caloric intake as if to bulk up for a winter that has yet to arrive. But rumor has it that with the month of Tevet comes that rain! Inclement weather is predicted for the erev of and the first day of Rosh Chodesh. May the rains come and wash the burning land and perhaps the Carmel Forest can start to regenerate the green we long for.
Just a note — today, as I finish writing this post, erev Rosh Chodesh Tevet, the rain has come, washing the country in its blessing and causing Am Yisrael to smile and breathe a sigh of relief. But still, the showers of last night and today are not enough, so please pray that the weather stays wet and gray!
Over the centuries Israel has been beset by many a tragedy, and how have we always managed to get through it? We eat! So let the Kosher Cooking Carnival begin!
The Kosher Cooking Carnival KCC is a monthly blog carnival, a “round-up” of blog posts about all aspects of kosher food and cooking. It includes Jewish Law, customs, kosher restaurants, cookbooks and kosher recipes, too. Every month it’s on another blog. Next month the KCC is once again going home and will be hosted by Batya at me-ander. If you’d like to host an edition, please contact Batya.
Batya, of me-ander, decided to do something we do almost weekly in our house and did a little Cashing In, Frozen Foods. In our house we always cook twice or three times as much as we need, just to feed the Freezer Gods.
Even though we are in the midst of Chanuka, not too long ago we were celebrating Thanksgiving. Mirj of Miriyummy (hey, that’s me!) didn’t quite make the traditional dinner, but had a little party to give thanks, and served up some unconventional Thanksgiving food.
What do you do when you just don’t know what to call your creation? You do what Mrs. S. over at Our Shiputzim: A Work in Progress did. Curious? Find out what she called her dessert in Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Nameless Edition.
Not that I want to get political or anythings, but… with all this talk about a building freeze, Jennifer and her Adventures in MamaLand is building houses, gingerbread houses, and they look good! Have a peek at Gingerbread Night.
There were no entries this month for Diet Food. Like, duh! This is the Chanuka season! Latkes, sufganiyot, anything fried, oil, oil, oil, get the picture? Just in case you don’t, here’s one…
Jewish Shabbat and Holiday Food
Over at JewishBoston.com we have an interesting take on the usual latke thanks to Dan Brosgol. Check out Hybrid Latkes: Low-Fat, High-Flavor, and Interestingly Textured.
Just because it doesn’t feel like winter yet here in Israel, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the world isn’t freezing its tuchas off and in need of hot and nourishing food to stave off the cold. Beth, the Upper West Side Mom, has a warming recipe for Fassoulyeh b’Lah’meh (Syrian Cholent).
Restaurants and Cookbook Reviews
Okay, so while this doesn’t fall under the issue of kashrut per se, I just couldn’t pass up including this entry from Erin Lenderts from Bachelor’s Degree Online: 40 Beautiful Coffee Table Books for Foodies.
Maybe I should call this the Not Kosher But Interesting Nonetheless category. In any case, Jennifer Lynch submitted an entry which is good for those of you who keep kosher but like to read about weird, non-kosher restaurants. Check out 20 Strangest Restaurants Around The World over at TopOnlineColleges.com.
Everything you wanted to know about the food pyramid but couldn’t be bothered to Google it yourself? You can find the Top 50 Blogs About the Food Pyramid and Macronutrients at ADN to BSN.
So how many of us who regularly read the KCC deep-fry their turkeys for Thanksgiving? Hmmmm, thought so. We’re just not in that demographic, are we… But just in case you ever get the, erm, hankering to try, Susan Howe discusses how Deep-fried turkey fiascos can spoil Thankgiving at Insure.com.
Have a happy holiday full of light!
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Once upon a time, in 1970, my family spent some time in Norway. There’s not much I remember, I was 7 at the time, but what I do remember was that I got to hang with some cool cousins, I got to say Jeg ikke gjør det oppfatte (I don’t understand) a lot, and I was cold, always cold. Even in the summer.
My family of four moved in with my uncle’s family of four. Eight people in one house, two women sharing one kitchen. My mother and aunt were in each other’s pots and pans and dinnertime was always a combination of my once Lithuanian now American mother, and my once Hungarian now Norwegian aunt. We had a few weird combinations. It was in Oslo that I learned to eat hot dogs with ketchup, which I still love to this day. It was in Oslo that I learned to eat chunks of bread mixed with sour cream and sprinkled with sugar. I’ve never seen that combo before, and quite frankly, am happy to never see it again. And it was in Oslo that I had the most amazing jams, made from the most amazing berries. They have berries up there that I’ve never seen in the States or in Israel. I put jam on everything back then, except for hot dogs.
My cousin Rebecca, that sweet little bald thing up there in the picture, the cutie on the right, left the frozen fjords of Norway and now lives in the frozen hustle bustle of Sweden. I haven’t seen her in a while, but we chat on Facebook. Just today I was complaining about how hot it is here in Israel. It’s Chanuka, it’s not supposed to be hot on Chanuka. We’re supposed to be wearing sweaters, eating hot latkes, drinking hot chocolate, and instead I’m trying to stay cool in the hot sunshine while walking to work. Rebecca said she would trade places with me, she’s drinking her mug of hot tea while staring out into the brisk Swedish weather, with the temps a cozy -15 degrees C. Yes, that’s minus 15.
So I’m trying to conjure up some memories of Norway to cool me off. They say foodie memories can be very strong, so I’m making the traditional Chanuka sufganiya, otherwise known as the jelly donut. Carine Goren, my favorite dessert diva, posted her recipe for sufganiyot on Facebook this morning, and the dough is rising now, ready for a bath of hot oil and then some yummy jam. The last time we were in Ikea I picked up some Swedish lingonberry jam, and some of that spread on a slice of Rykrisp took my straight back to those white Oslo nights. I think a little lingonberry jam on my Chanuka sufganiyot is the perfect remedy for a balmy Chanuka.
Jammy Donut Holes
I very rarely make full-blown jelly donuts for Chanuka, they’re a pain to fry, I never manage to get them just right on the outside, just right on the inside, and oy, all that oil! So I make donuts holes, and we all get to dip them in whatever we like, and the filling becomes a topping.
This is Carine Goren’s recipe for sufganiyot, but she uses a whole kilo of flour to make 30 huge donuts. I’ve halved the recipe, to make lots of little holes.
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon freeze-dried yeast
- 2/3 cups milk (I use soy milk), heated to lukewarm
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Grated rind of half a lemon
- canola oil, for deep frying
- jam for filling
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Place all the ingredients except for the oil, jam and powdered sugar in the mixer fitter with a dough hook. Mix until the dough is smooth, it should feel like your earlobe, go ahead, give it a pinch.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- When the dough has doubled its bulk punch it down, knead by hand for about two minutes, and then pull off pieces and roll into balls. The size of the piece should be based on the size of the sufganiya you want. Golfball sized pieces will give you a full-size sufganiya. We like to make bite-sized donuts, so our pieces are about a third of a golfball.
- Put the balls to rise again on pieces of parchment paper. Let rise again for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime bring the oil to a low boil in a pan. I’m not going to tell you how big of a pot and how much oil, since that should be a cooking preference. Big pots, lots of oil, lots of room for many large donuts. I use a small saucepan with about 2-3 inches of oil, and fry about 4 or 5 holes at a time.
- Carefully lower the balls into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes on each side for the big boys, 1 minute or less for the babies. Remove with a slotted spoon and let rest on some paper towels to sop up any extra oil.
- Fill with the jam and dust with the powdered sugar. Or do it Miriyummy-style, serving up the plain donut holes with the jam on the side, and dip at will.
Happy Chanuka! May your holiday be filled with light, and yummy little holes!
While trying to wrap my head around this gorgeous, sunny and yet, depressing Chanuka weather, I’m trying very hard not to find solace in the plethora of sufganiyot both in the bakeries and on the blogosphere. So far the best post I’ve seen about Chanuka comes from Mrs. S. of Our Shiputzim, and she is so right, I now can’t get that song out of my head, so I’m going to stick it in yours!
It’s the first day of Chanuka and I am sitting in my family room with a Boston creme sufganiya and a huge cup of super-strong espresso with a splash of milk. I am also sitting here in a flowing summer blouse, my favorite black summer skirt and a pair of Teva Naot sandals. It’s the first day of Chanuka, it’s December 2nd, and we haven’t seen rain in over a month, let alone winter.
My daughter Sassy is buried under eight inches of snow in London and my cousin Rebecca just offered to trade houses with me, she’s in Sweden where the temps have just hit a high of -15 C!
We’ve prayed, we’ve fasted, we’ve promised to be good, we’ve even gotten together in spite of religious and national issues, and still it doesn’t rain.
The entire nation of Israel is depressed due to the weather. Have you ever known beautiful, bright sunny days to do this to a person (let alone a whole country)?