Chatting with Miriyummy: Ruti Mizrachi
Meet Ruti Mizrachi. Actually, I would love to meet Ruti Mizrachi. She’s one of those women out there in the blogosphere that when she writes, her words go directly from the computer screen into my heart. I started reading her blog, Ki Yachol Nuchal (We Can Surely Do It), only a little over a year ago, but I feel like I’ve known her forever, even though we have never met in person. Ruti is someone I truly do admire. Her life is all about choices. She chose how she wants to live, where she wants to live and with whom, and she sticks by those choices with such a joy, with no regrets, in such a way that I would love to be the Grasshopper to her Master Po.
Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
Ruti’s blog is all about hearing these things about Judaism, about Israel, about the people we live with. Come and meet Ruti…
Introduce yourself. Who are you, what are you, why are you?
When my Soldier Boy was in first grade, his teacher insisted that he write what his parents did for a living. “My father drives and drives and my mother raises crops of boys.” Thus began his career as a very good writer, and my job description on all future job applications. It amuses me to add that description to formal CVs; and who is going to question “Mom” as a job description? (Nobody has so far.)
Where do you live, and why?
I live in Neve Daniel, a town of fewer than 400 families. We are in the southern foothills of Judea, about a half-hour drive from Jerusalem. We are so happy to have small-town life AND a good, strong Jewish community. We could not find both of those simultaneously in America. There is a saying that if you are very happy somewhere in Israel, it is because Avraham Avinu met your soul there when he walked the land. We feel that way here!
What is your family like?
I could talk about my boys for hours! I will spare you, and just say that if you follow the adventures of the Dearly Beloved and our sons Soldier Boy, Yeshiva Bochur, Stunt Man and Sports Guy in my blog, you will get to know them a little. My greatest joy at this stage of my life is watching my adult children fully become themselves. Mama used to say, “Don’t worry. The boy you had a five is the man you’ll have at 35.” I think she would be so proud to see that she was right, and that her grandsons got there so much earlier than she might have expected.
What is your relationship with food? Do you like to cook?
Like most women my age, I am sorry that I like food a bit too much, and generally food of the non-weight-loss variety. (What is the scientific explanation for ice cream tasting so much better than Brussels sprouts?) My mother tried in vain to teach me to cook; but I didn’t learn till I was a wife and mother, on the job. I enjoy cooking food that makes people happy; but I am not someone willing to potchke in the kitchen for hours. Easy and delicious. That would be the name of my recipe book.
What is your first food-related memory?
My dear Mama used to feed us homemade bisque of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when we came home from school on cold days. That is probably my earliest memory, and a very sweet one. (I try not to remember her oxtail soup that could go on and on and on and on…) I think she would be proud of the way I’ve learned to make her homemade spaghetti sauce; that I remember that she taught me never to wash a mushroom (and instead how to peel it); and that I figured out by trial and error how to make my husband’s grandmother’s cinnamon rolls.
How would you describe yourself in the kitchen?
I’m kind of a “one pot” cook by nature. On the other hand, I alphabetize my spices. That scares all but the bravest guest cooks. I cook with wine. (Some of it even goes into the sauce.) My family likes garlic; so there is a lot of fresh garlic in everything. (We always knew that if we didn’t make it as Jews, we would be great Italians.) The kitchen is color coordinated, in order to minimize the mixing of meat and milk. But I live with kitchen-challenged men; so there have been occasional moments of interest…
It is fun watching us develop with food as we age, and since we made aliyah. The Dearly Beloved was a meat and potatoes guy before I met him. Everything had to be very simple and “American,” and no foods could touch. Over the years, he has become more accepting of the concept of a “marriage” of flavors. Now we’re using and delighting in such spices as cardamom, cinnamon (in meat), zatar, and hawaij, and lots of zhug. (We think we may have been Temani in a former life…)
As a host/hostess?
It is important to me that guests feel comfortable, like part of the family. My guests are usually given an excellent knife and a board, and told to chop veggies for Israeli salad. This is so that they can feel helpful, chat without needing much supervision (because I can’t chew gum and walk, much less prepare 5 dishes and chat intelligently), and so that they can save me work.
Desert island picks, name three foods you could not live without.
Coffee. Oh, and then there’s coffee. And I can’t forget to mention: COFFEE. (Ruti, you are so my sister from another mister! ~M)
Is there any food you hate? Why?
Okra. It reminds me of the bad guys in Aliens.
What is your favorite Miriyummy post and why?
This is a hard one, because there are still so many I have yet to read – so if I would tell you a favorite, I’d discover next week that there is an even better one. I love when you blog about your relationship with Ju-Boy, because you clearly enjoy each other’s company. The Dearly Beloved and I find that our best friendships are with people who are as crazy about each other as we are.
Do you have a food-related story you would like to share?
There are so many! But I’ve talked long enough, my friend. Another time. Thank you for spending time with me. Let’s share a memorable meal sometime.
You asked for a recipe. Recipes are very hard; because so many of them come from other people, or from composites of other people’s recipes. Since we are approaching the fasts of the Seventeenth of Tamuz and the Ninth of Av, here is a pre-fast recipe that I know is completely mine, and that helps us get through the fast easily:
Ruti’s Pre-Fast Pasta
- whole wheat pasta, cooked
- olive oil
- onions, cut in half, and then sliced
- zucchini, cut in quarters, and sliced thickly
- red peppers, sliced in strips
- fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
- fresh garlic, chopped
- salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
Saute vegetables in olive oil. Add cooked pasta. Season to taste. Accompany with plenty of water.
Have an easy and meaningful fast!
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