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Ground Control To Major Tom

Don't be insulted on my behalf -- I bought her that shirt

Ben Zoma says:
Who is rich?
The one who is appreciates what he has…

(Talmud—Avot 4:1)

Appearances and actions can be misleading.  My sweet Tinky has drifted though life as if on a cloud with a silver lining.  Nothing phases that child (shouldn’t say child, she just turned 21).  She takes everything at face value, not because she can’t see beyond any facade, it’s just because she’s a happy kid (yes, I know, 21 is not a kid).  There is no pinch of salt in her life. For those of you who don’t know her, watching her go through life with a constant smile on her face, no worries to furrow her brow, it can be disconcerting.  She gives off a certain space cadet demeanor, or, as we say in Israel, you might take her to be an astronaut.

According to

space cadet:  n. A person who tends to space out often. He or she does not respond when directly spoken to. The space cadet is not necessarily a person of low intelligence or a heavy drug user, but rather one who is so easily lost in reverie that he or she loses all awareness of the surrounding physical world.

Reverie.  Yes, my Tinky is lost in reverie.  But that’s as far as it goes. Yes, sometimes we have to pull her down to Earth, but that kid is sharp. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it.  Not the most stellar of students (learning disabilities and our family’s own Annus Horribilis may have derailed her), she drifted along on that cloud for a bit, but now she’s on the right track.  Her mission in life?  To make the world more beautiful, one person at a time. She’s got a great sense of humor (I like to think she inherited that from me).  She laughs loudly and loves fiercely.  And just like that astronaut she may seem to be, she’s gravity proof — she can bounce back from anything, with a smile.

Tink is a fan of the simple things in life.  She lives and studies in Jerusalem, and when she comes to visit us for Shabbat (when the boyfriend isn’t home from the army, and her huge circle of friends isn’t getting together, or she just wants her mommy to spoil her) she has a few requests for the menu…

“Mom, when I come, can you make sure we have Ju-Boy’s roast potatoes?  And make sure he makes a lot of dafdafet (Hebrew for loose pages, what she calls leek).  And some of his steamed broccoli… and don’t forget to tell him to make some cabbage the way I like it.”  Wait a minute, I see a pattern here.  Isn’t there anything I make that she likes?  And then she says the magic words, “Mom, can you make me your fudge?”

My recipe for fudge?  It’s so simple, so easy, I’m almost embarrassed to give it to you.  Almost…

Incredibly Simple Fudge

  • 1 can (400 ml or 14 fluid oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 300 grams (12 oz) dark chocolate
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

  1. Break the chocolate into pieces  (Israeli chocolate is conveniently marked in little squares) and place in a microsafe bowl.  Add the sweetened condensed milk.  There is no need to stir.
  2. Nuke in the microwave for 3 minutes.  If you are micro-wary, you can do this in the top of a double boiler, constantly stirring until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir until smoothly combined.
  4. Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan (20 cm X 20 cm) with vegetable oil or line with parchment paper (I use parchment paper).  Pour in the fudge while it’s still warm and pour-able.  Tip the pan to make sure the fudge gets into all the corners evenly.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator for about two hours, or even overnight, if you have the willpower.  I have seen kids (and adults) watch the fudge set like some people watch paint dry.
  6. Cut into squares, serve the masses, and smile as the compliments come your way.

Don't forget to lick the bowl!

Sometimes it’s so simple to be so happy.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

… make Mirjam Juice!  What is Mirjam Juice, you ask?  Go ahead, ask it.  You’re going to get the answer in any case, so you might as well ask.  Urgh, I just had a horrible visual of a pointy lemon juicer stuck in my belly button… 

When I married Ju-boy I acquired several things the minute his foot crushed that glass under the chuppah.  I acquired 4 step-children, one step-dog, a fantastic turbo oven, a blue kitchen… and his friends.  His huge group of friends.  Sometimes I refer to them as my friends-in-law.  Sometimes I refer to them, usually in the middle of an argument, as “your friends,” and sometimes he accuses me of being friendlier with them than he is.  They’re a rowdy, loyal, supportive bunch, and they like my cooking, so I LOVE them!

One friend in particular, Yummy Mummy (let’s call her YM for short), is a successful business woman who must have been Peter Roget in a previous life.  She doesn’t get drunk, she gets sloshed, she gets tipsy, she gets inebriated, she becomes three sheets to the wind.  I mean, why use a long word when you can use a dimunitive one?  Face it, a few sips and she’s tanked.  But I have the highest respect for YM, even in her potted state, for she is feeling no pain on what she has dubbed Mirjam Juice.

And what is Mirjam Juice, you ask?  (It’s deja vu all over again…)

Microplane zester and some balded lemons

I’d like to introduce you to a concoction of mine — Lemon Cream Liqueur.  A total girly drink, but I can count a few manly single malt drinkers amongst its fans.  If you want to try some of this, you’re welcome to come over for a sip, just call first so I can inform YM and she can come and we’ll have a party.  You’ll need some lemons, a bottle of really cheap vodka or plain grain alcohol (drinking, not medicinal), a little patience, and a Microplane zester.  It’s one of my most handy kitchen tools.  When I say I married Ju-boy for his oven, well, he married me for my zester. 

Get some cheap vodka, really cheap vodka...

One other thing you’ll need is patience.  You need at least a week for the lemon zest to steep in the alcohol, unless, if you’re like me, you forget you left it steeping in a pitcher on top of the fridge and only discover it three months later.  It’s still good, if not better.  But a week will do for those with less patience or a better memory.

This recipe was originally posted on Recipezaar.  I use soy milk in my recipe to make this non-dairy (and parve), but you can also use milk, or milk and cream, for a blissful dairy experience.

Lemon Cream Liqueur

1 liter grain alcohol (or really cheap vodka)

6 lemons (scrubbed well and dried)

2 liters soymilk

1 1/2 kilos (3.3 pounds) sugar

  • Zest the lemons into a jug (this is where you praise the inventor of the Microplane).
  • Pour the alcohol/vodka into the jug.
  • You can then juice the lemons, but the lemon juice is not part of this recipe.  Do whatever you want with the juice.  I usually freeze the juice in ice cube trays or let Shy-boy make lemonade.
  • Cover the jug and hide it somewhere for at least a week.  Remember where you hid it.
  • After a week (or month, or entire winter), drain the alcohol.
  • Bring the soymilk and sugar to a boil and let bubble away for about 20 minutes.  You need to babysit this, because the minute you turn your back on it, it will bubble over!
  • Mix the lemony alcohol together with the sugary soymilk and let cool.
  • Bottle this stuff up.  I save strong plastic water bottles (1 1/2 liter size)  just for this purpose.
  • I store this in my freezer.  Because of the alcohol it won’t freeze, but become thick, slushy and creamy.  The perfect tipple for a hot evening.

 If you plan on making several batches of this at once, I have a story for you.  I once decided to make a quintuple batch to give out as gifts.  I was in the supermarket shopping for the ingredients and pulled up to the checkout line just behind the town gossip.  I was going through my divorce at the time, and she took one look at my shopping cart with its 30 lemons, 10 kilos of sugar, and 5 liters of vodka and said in one of those bitchy, condescending voices, “How are you coping, dear?”  No, she didn’t get some as a gift.

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