Monday, May 31, 2010

Total Epiphany

It's a bright, sunny and clear Monday morning here in The Holy Land. Not too much is going on in this sleepy little town. Flies are buzzing around and a couple of butterflies have flitted through my garden, but that's about all.Z left for school about an hour ago so I'm all alone in the tower. First order of business this morning was feeding the sourdough starter. It seems a little weird to have stuff souring on my counter, but I'm optimistic that it will be worth the wait. I'm going to bake tomorrow and see how it tastes. I'm hoping for positive results. Obviously I'll try to keep the starter alive for as long as possible - but that will probably depends more on luck than anything in my control.

I got in the mood for something 'out of the ordinary' for breakfast. So I skimmed through my bookmarked recipes and decided to cook up a pot of garlic rice. I made a cup of rice and will leave 1/2 of if for Z to have with dinner. I guess I'll roast some chicken to go with it.
Now the apartment smells like lightly toasted garlic and I've got some breakfast.
*update* I'm eating my breakfast and it is amazingly delicious. The rice is garlicky but not too garlicky (I used 2 enormous cloves of garlic, basmati rice and cooked it for 15 mins - though it probably could've used 20.) The rice is fluffy and delicately flavored and the thin slices of garlic just melt in your mouth. I'll definitely be making this for Shabbos!

Nothing planned for today. I'm probably going to spend a goodly amount of time staring at my starter and at the walls. There's a bit of work to do for the neverending project. I could always do some laundry and find something to clean. Alternatively I could also pick up one of my mid-way art-projects and make some progress. I guess I do have a few options open to me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Caramel Popcorn

Shabbos was nice. I actually managed to snag an hour and a half-ish nap, davened in shul 3 times and spent a lot of time being amused by my cousins (both generations of them.)

Here we are - mostly through yet another Sunday. I've decided that this week I want to experiment with sourdough. So I just assembled a starter and it's bubbling away on my counter-top. I reckon I'll give it a 2 day 'souring' time for starters and take it from there. (From what I understand - you can keep feeding it indefinitely, and it keeps getting better the longer you keep it - but if it grows fuzz or turns colors then it should be thrown out.)

We really need to eat the bread that's accumulated in the freezer. Though, I suppose we've got 2 days until I bake the sourdough... Good news is that we're down to the last pesto roll and there are only 2 oatmeal rolls left. I should probably do an inventory of what else is in there and rearrange so that whatshisface sees the options 'up front' when he goes on his hunting forays in the freezer.

Breakfast today was English Muffins with butter and jam. Lunch was 'Tivol' (woohoo! shnitzel-dak!) and fries. I haven't really thought about dinner yet - but I'm sure it'll be something equally as easy.

Not much else to say today. I'm working on yet another shopping list - I must bake too much because I always seem to be running out of parchment paper, flour, sugar and margarine.

My birthday is in a month. Oh bother.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spazztastical Diamonds

I've got to admit that I'm a little bit impressed with my sticktoitivness in terms of blogging. I've been good recently. Pictures and words - at least once a week. That's relatively amazing considering my track record the last 2 years or so.Last night a cousin requested a chocolate cake recipe which would hold up to being stacked and frosted. Truth be told I can't say that I've got a foolproof one. So I gave him the best chocolate cake recipe I know of and this morning I decided to test it out. (Turns out that the Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe from The Kosher Palette is actually exactly the same as Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake.) However - I made a slight booboo and in my exuberance (of actually baking) I neglected to fold in the cup of boiling water that the recipe calls for. (Who puts that kind of random instruction all the way at the end of the recipe anyway?! Seriously!) By the time I realized my mistake, the cupcakes were in the oven. End of story: the cake turned out alright - aside from the fact that it sank in the center. It's light, fluffy and moist. Maybe next time I'll make it properly just to see what a difference the water makes...
Last night Z went into the bathroom and emerged with a friend. We named him 'super spike' and then set him free (out a window.) Do you see how big he is? He took up the whole bottom of a plastic cup! He was fast too - but Z was faster...
This is my artistic shot of an ice-block. I actually froze ice in a few small containers in preparation of making tomato sauce. Why would I need ice for tomato sauce you ask? Well, after last time I promised that I'd never make a huge batch of tomato sauce with the tomato skins on - ever again. The skins just kind of get gunky and gummy and rolls up into these chewy nasty little pieces. Suffice it to say, I don't like them at all! So I decided that when making large batches of tomato sauce (cause it freezes awesomely well) that I'd always peel my tomatoes. Easiest way to do that is blanching. How? slice an X in the bottom of your tomato, drop it into boiling water for about a minute, drop it into ice water for about a minute and ta-da - the peel slides riiiight off. Like magic! Anyway - that's why I made ice and that's why I've got a picture of a big ice-cube.
The tomato sauce process. From ripe red tomatoes, to saucy goodness. Titles for the pictures in the collage: whole tomatoes, slitted tomato, boiling tomatoes, blanched tomato - already peeling, the ice-bath apparatus, peeled tomatoes, the sauce cooking down, post-zhhzhhing, baked ziti.

The only ingredients that went into this sauce were onions, tomatoes, tomato paste (to thicken) and seasonings. I didn't even add water - Instead after blanching I seeded the tomatoes into a strainer (over a bowl), and added the collected tomato juice to the sauce. Cause I like my delicious sauce to be free of hard-little-tomato-seeds and chewy-skin-bits. Cause I'm picky. So there.

This batch of sauce filled 7 small containers - which is enough for 7 delicious meals involving tomato-sauce. From pizza to baked ziti...
I made baked ziti for lunch with 1 container because one of Z's classes was cancelled so he had a 2 hour break.

Today there's a really icky sandstorm blowing around outside. We've got the doors and windows closed because the dust-laden air is next to impossible to breathe.

We're going away for Shabbos but will have to sweep/wash the floor anyway to try and minimize the amount of dust that is in the apartment.

Exciting news - the wedding album process is underway. Hopefully tomorrow morning I'll go to the post office and send the photographer a CD of photos (which I chose last week) and by my birthday I'll finally have my photo album! I'm really excited! Really really excited!

One more load of laundry to do today and then that'll be that for the week. I'm a little sad that we won't be Home for Shabbos. It means that not only will I probably not get a shabbos nap, it also means that I've got to be 'dressed' for all of the weekend and I don't get flowers to keep me cheerful throughout the next week. It's also a little depressing to not have any work to do. I really look forward to Thursdays as my cooking days - because it means that I've got stuff to do. I also really love the smell of challah baking and Shabbos cooking. I can't help it. I'm just weird like that.

I guess I'll just watch a movie instead - since there's nothing for me to do and Z won't be Home from school for another 3.5 hours or so...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lorelai For Starters...

It's 12:39 PM and I'm sitting around in a 'mostly dressed to go out state' - I woke up pretty late this morning even though I went to sleep early last night. Last night I decided to wake up early and make English Muffins for breakfast. By the time I made it into the kitchen it was already 9. Then Z announced that he was leaving at 11:00 to work on a project in school instead of at 1 the way he usually does on Wednesdays. At that point the dough was rising - so I figured I'd make the muffins anyway.
I'm not quite sure where I went wrong. Alright - that's not 100% accurate. I knew the dough was very finicky and delicate, I also should have been astute enough to realize that I should leave space between the muffins for the second rise. Anywho - they didn't come out looking too pretty but they still tasted pretty good with butter and jam. I also got a whole bunch of nooks-n-crannies - not too bad for a first try...
I think Frizzie is tuckered out after this morning's kitchen adventure. It's pretty hot out today (again) but I should really walk to the grocery store.
On second thought - we've got mozzarella cheese in the fridge. Maybe I'll make baked ziti with homemade tomato sauce...

Don't worry about ditching my walk - I'll do one of those exercise videos I've got. Gotta get my heart-rate up for at least 20 minutes a day. Right?

This morning cousin Netanel put on Tefillin in Jerusalem, but it was at 8AM - so we couldn't make it (Mostly because we didn't want to take a 5:30AM bus.) Tonight the Chazanow family is starting to write a Sefer Torah on Kfar Chabad - but we won't be able to make it to that either (no way to get back Home again - not to mention that Z's got class until 7:00PM and the party starts at 7:30PM.) Doesn't living in the middle-of-nowhere without a car sound like fun?

Not too much else is going on - aside from yet another heatwave. (We just consider them heatwaves until they stop breaking for a day or two - then we can officially call it 'summer')

If anyone has a few spare seconds say a prayer for my mint-plant. I've decided that I'll only make homemade mint-chip ice cream if it bounces back and I can use mint that grew in my little garden. (Crazy sounding - I know. But sometimes you just need a sign from the universe.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spaghetti Recurrence

I had an appointment in Jerusalem this morning and worked myself into a frenzy about taking the bus because I wasn't feeling well. So Z came to the rescue - skipped class and came with me instead to hold my hand. He's awesome. Seriously. I don't think I would've been able to make it through the bus ride if not for him.

Not too much else is going on today. We made it back Home by 2:00ish. I had a light lunch of Shabbos leftovers (and Z had a burger in Jeru - so he considered it a successful trip.)

I'm making a concerted effort to not sit on anything 'soft' - cause evidently it's bad for my back. I guess no more sleeping on the sofa for me. (Or spending all day lounging around watching movies and tv shows - not that there's anything to watch now that it's tv summer break.)

I'm supposed to cook up a huge pot of tomato sauce. I even made ice so that I can blanch my tomatoes - for easy peeling. But I'm not overly hungry and really don't have the patience to start making a huge mess in the kitchen. Problem is - it's really got to get done before the tomatoes get any mushier - cause they're seriously ripe at this point. Maybe tomorrow - then I have an excuse to walk to the grocery store - because we're out of Parmesan cheese again (darn that eggplant parmigiana.) Fresh tomato sauce on al dente pasta with Parmesan cheese sounds like a good Wednesday night dinner. Dontcha agree?

Right now I'm doing 'busy-work' and am burning this past season's TV shows to DVD. That way they won't be taking up space on the external hard-drive. Gosh we watched a lot of television this year. 4 shows with Z and another 3 on my own. That's 4 hours of tv a week. (Bright side - 1 show has been cancelled so that's 40 minutes 'extra' I'll have next year.)

Have I mentioned recently that I'm obsessed with Shai Gabso's music? I've been listening to his album "Arim Roshi" on repeat for the last week. The lyrics are really really really great. And that's all I'll say about that.

I think I'm gonna go find a pair of socks. The end of the day is nearing and my toes are getting cold.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Plum Purple

Talk about a typical lazy Sunday. I'm still in pajamas (at 6:55PM) and haven't done anything remotely productive all day.
Z worked on a project with a classmate from 1:30 until almost 4 - so I procrastinated the 'fix-up' job I've got to do on the neverending project. (Still not sure how I made such a stupid mistake. Important note to self: when copy/pasting - make sure to copy all of the text.) Ora stopped by before heading home - so we chilled for a couple of hours. Sara D called to share the exciting news that she has been accepted to Ariel for studies next year - but now she's got to choose between TAU and Ariel.

Lunch & dinner were leftovers today. On a sweet note - Z made pancakes for breakfast. Cause last night I asked him if he would. So he did. I love pancakes. Especially with real maple syrup.

Don't you?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pina Colada in a Pint Glass...

Shavua tov readers! That was a really great Shabbos. I know I kvetched a lot about actually planning and preparing it - but it really turned out wonderfully.

Our company was 2 awesome couples. Z is friends with the guys - and had been trying to get them to come for a Shabbos for ages - but it wasn't until they both got engaged that we managed to book them for a weekend.

The atmosphere was relaxed and fun all at the same time. So I was pretty thrilled.

Menu - (cause I need to document it somewhere for future reference):

I made 3 medium loaves out of 1/2 a batch of Challah. (1 cup WW & 4.5 cups bread flour)

Friday Night: chumus, roasted garlic, pickles, chumus (hehe, whoops) olives, non-chicken soup with matzah balls, sesame chicken, white rice, peas, tivol with mushrooms on a bed of onions (for the vegetarian).

Shabbos Lunch: chumus, pickles, olives, build-a-salad (lettuce, craisins, candied pecans, dried candied pineapple), couscous salad, sun-dried tomato pasta salad, chickpea salad, eggplant parmigiana, tomato-onion quiche.

Seudah Shlishit: leftover salads from lunch, chumus, potato blintzes, watermelon

Desserts: oatmeal craisin white chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies, apple streusel bars, ice cream (cookies-n-cream)

Overall I'd say the weekend was a success and I'd be happy to host the same group again. (Even if they were a bit competitive when it came to settling Catan.)

Did I mention that I got a really great 'rest' in this afternoon? I just snuck into my room and curled up in a puddle of sunshine to read my book and snooze for a while.

Now for a whole new week - stay tuned...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rummikub Even

On Monday we caught a bus to Rosh Haayin and then took the train (through Tel Aviv) to Bet Shemesh. It was definitely the most comfortable travel option available. The Crazy Lady picked us up and our first stop was a trip to the grocery store. Being erev-chag, the place was a crazy-house, but we managed to find everything we needed - except for pareve 'cream cheese'. Best investments were baking pans - I got a huge metal pan with a cover and a decent sized quiche dish.

Tuesday morning Z and I went into Jeru bright and early. Errands in Geulah and the shuk were completed in record time and we were back in The Sun House relatively early. Well, early enough for me to help make meatless meat sauce, watch blintzes be stuffed and then there was the whole 'size perception issue' - when nothing seemed quite as big or small as it really was. Aside from the mushroom overload, only the noodles suffered - and not too badly. Note to self: when the pot looks too small after adding 1 bag of pasta, don't add the second bag...

Chag was really nice. Both meals were a good balance of Chalavi and Pareve - so there was no need to overdose on dairy. (Thanks to these newfangled probiotics I've been taking I got to eat lasagna, string cheese and even had some butter on my roll without any major negative side-effects. Pretty exciting if you ask me. Next step - a HUGE cup of chocolate milk - when I'm feeling brave...)

Z went to shteig at Yesodei with Tonny. Freddie went to Aviv to attend some shiurim organized by Raizi. Daddy went to the shul to hear some speakers. The rest of us went to sleep - cause it's not a mitzvah to stay up if you're gonna be an evil grump who can't quite function the next day.

In the afternoon Little Brother came over to visit, we played 2 rounds of the usual and we each won once. Then he disappeared and when he came back he brought 2 niecely munchkins with him. They both enjoyed puzzle-building, cookies and watermelon until their mother came to find them.

Motzei Chag we finally managed to get the parentals to sit down and look over the photo-selection for our wedding album. Now I'm waiting to hear back from the photographer about 'the next step' - hopefully by my birthday we'll have an album. I'm really excited about it. Finally. It's only been 27 months since the wedding - and 26 months since we got the pictures...

Today we're (thankfully) getting a ride home. I've got to cook for Shabbos. (Since we're having 4 guests and all.) Have I mentioned that it annoys me to actually have to make 3 meals for these ridunculously long summer Shabbatot? And Z has school until 9:00PM - so he won't really be helpful until tomorrow - which is already too late for me.

Alrighty I've been typing this post for about 40 minutes now and I'm running out of things to say.

So I guess I'll be back later - once I've actually done something or other...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Don't waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind." ~Mary Schmich

It's official - Lorelai has no 'life' to speak of. She sits at home all day either doing nothing or cooking/baking up fantastically fattening foods which she then consumes. It's a miracle she can fit through the front door. We know that she has no 'life' because she has been posting to her blog. It's not the posting that has us concerned - rather the fact that she has been posting multiple times a day.
I think today's heatwave was a bit much for Toffee. He just kind of sat around all day looking shvach. I'm almost certain I saw him sweating sometime around 3:30PM when the temperature reached above 80F in the shade of our concrete building.

Here's a photo collage of those ridiculous apple bars that I've been blabbering about for the last 4 posts. The pictures didn't come out as well as I would have liked them too - but they're good enough (considering it's the best my camera can do.) There's the crumble base (which I made in the food processor), apples coated with sugar and flour mixture (the filling), pre-bake, post-bake (mostly cooled with their glaze), and the final bars.
Remember I threatened to make pesto rolls this morning? Just to get rid of the pesto? Well, I did it. The pictures are; parmesan cheese, pesto spread on the dough, an unbaked roll, all done and ready to eat. They were really good. If I'd wanted to commit stomach suicide I would have made up a good thick alfredo-type sauce to drizzle over the top (or dunk them in.)
I was supposed to bake cookies but somehow with the heat I just couldn't bring myself to stand in the kitchen any longer than necessary. I guess I'll have to bake a batch tomorrow morning. I should've made them today because as predicted Z was too busy working on the project to spend any time with me. We did watch a couple of episodes of 'Good Eats' but those were 'quick breaks' and 'dinner' - so they don't actually count as quality time. (Sorry if you disagree...)

Here's the 'important part' of the project - it's the part he designed. Don't ask me what it is - I still haven't figured out the point of this project.
King Toffee surveys his peaceful little town. He wanted to go all Godzilla and tear the place up - but Z wouldn't let him. Something about having to present the model (intact) in class tomorrow...
I'd like to go to sleep but between the downstairs neighbors throwing a party, the mosquitoes buzzing around eating me alive and the heat it just doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon.

Tomorrow we head to The Sun House and more adventures.

On the bright side - they have air conditioning...

B-Complexity

Ever have to do something that you REALLY don't want to do and you just dread it with every fiber of your being to the point that it makes you physically sick to your stomach? Ok - so now you know how I've been feeling for the last week or so. I was supposed to take care of the dreaded thing on Friday - but being the excellent and stubborn procrastinator that I am - I didn't. That didn't really help though - and I wound up running out to take care of it right after Shabbos - which was the very last thing that I wanted to do.

On a bright note - Shabbos was pretty nice - even though it dragged on forever and ever. I like short winter Shabbatot. They start, they end and there's still time to do fun stuff on Saturday night. It's really annoying when Shabbos starts and ends ridiculously late - especially when everything is ready by 1 PM latest regardless of the season. Also - am I the only one who can't stand eating dinner at 9PM?!

The apple struesel bars came out absolutely awesome. They have all the best parts of apple pie (awesome taste and apple-y goodness) and you don't even need a fork to eat them with. Go bars! We also made cereal bars - but I kind of messed up on the proportions and either added too much peanut butter or too much margarine - or maybe there weren't enough marshmallows - all I know is the things crumbled to dust every time I tried to pick one up. What can I say, sometimes you got it and sometimes you just don't.

This morning we were supposed to travel to Jerusalem but considering I didn't exactly manage to sleep through the night - I wasn't too interested in making the 2 hour trek into the city. (I fell asleep at midnight, was awake from 3-4:30, woke up at 5 to squash a mosquito, and at 7 the alarm rang but I was happy to ignore it. I'll just take care of the Jerusalem errands on Tuesday morning instead.

So - today we're Home. Z is working on a big project which is due tomorrow - he'll probably be pulling an all-nighter tonight and definitely doesn't have any time to spend with me. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to bake cookies for my brother-in-law, cause we're going to his 'tekes hashba'ah' in Latrun tomorrow. (I wanted to make smiley cookies, but the dough is very soft and they crumble easily - so maybe I'll stick with chocolate chip - they travel pretty well.)

I've also got to do something with all the pesto we've got left from last week. We ate some of it on Challah on Shabbos but there's still a ton left. I found this recipe for Pesto Rolls so I might just try it out. (If we like them I can probably freeze them and if we don't I can take them to Bet Shemesh and feed them to the family. Aren't I just the sweetest?)

I wanted to go out for dinner tonight - but considering Z is working on this project and we've got leftovers from Shabbos and we are leaving tomorrow and won't be home until Thursday - I'm thinking I should reconsider... Maybe next week.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tough Noogies

It's Friday again. I didn't bother getting out of bed until 8 this morning. (Partly because I was awake from 3:00-4:30AM thanks to insomnia and then again at 5:00AM for a mosquito killing spree - which I won.)

The mosquito killing count is currently - L:12 vs. Z:5.

So far this morning I've made lasagna (a medium size one for lunch tomorrow as well as 3 'weeknight meal' size ones - which are the perfect amount for us, with a nice green salad on the side.) I also made a big pan of Apple Struesel Bars - that I mentioned yesterday. They smell awesome - like an apple pie - but without all that crust making. I've very excited to try them.

I finally decided on kasha buttons only to find that the puff-pastry dough that I had in the fridge was molding. (I guess it's not quite as eternal as I'd thought.) So I'm trying to choose something else to do with the kasha. In reality I could save it for next week and make real knish dough - or get more puff pastry...

There's not too much left to do for Shabbos so I'm relaxing on the couch and eating chocolate pudding with a fork. (Cause it tastes better that way.)

I guess I should go finish up in the kitchen. Roasted Garlic, Roasted Veggies, Chicken and Couscous are all that are left. Shouldn't take too long.

Have a great Shabbos!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cha-Grin

The end of the day is just about here and I'm back with a 2nd post. (I know, I know - sometimes I disappear for weeks on end and other times all I do is ramble on twice a day. It's all about equilibrium - but mine's off right now - so just smile and be happy that I'm rambling at all.)

I was barely productive today - but I did some useful stuff. For example, I washed 1 load of laundry. I also cooked up about 6 liters of chicken soup - which should be enough to last us for this Shabbos and the next 2 or 3 (depending on how many guests we host.) I took chicken out of the freezer to defrost for Shabbos and cooked up a batch of kasha. I'm not sure what to do with the kasha yet. I've got 1/2 a roll of puff-pastry dough so I could make kasha buttons - or I could just mix it with pasta and ta-da kasha varnishkas. So many choices - it's hard to decide.

Truth of the matter is - I haven't really figured out my menu for Shabbos yet. Friday night: roasted garlic, chumus, challah, chicken soup with matzah balls, chicken of some sort, a starch of some sort, a vegetable of some sort... Shabbos lunch: lasagna, salad, something else...

Like I said - I haven't really sat down to figure it out yet. Which is kind of a problem since it's Thursday. Doesn't really matter - I've got the dessert all picked out - so everything should be A-Okay. Plus we've got a melon in the fridge - so we definitely won't starve.

My big accomplishment for today was sorting through the 1400 photos from our wedding and choosing out my favorite 130. I'm hoping to send them to the photographer so that we can get our pretty digital album before our 2.5 year anniversary.

I just completely lost my train of thought because the doorbell rang. I was going to ignore it but then realized it was probably the flower-seller. For the last few weeks a nice kid has been selling flowers door-to-door for Shabbos. He's got a fine selection, they're cheaper than the place in the mercaz and they save us 40 minutes on buses on Friday mornings - all in all - it seems like a good deal to me. Anywho - this week's bouquet has a big happy sunflower and - oh heck - here's a picture in the last of the day's light...
I don't know why I'm worrying about food for Shabbos when I still haven't decided what to make for dinner tonight. I was supposed to make chicken stir-fry but forgot to defrost the chicken and I'm not really all that hungry. *shrugs* I just hope Z isn't too hungry when he gets home from school - and if he is he can pick at the chicken from the soup.

More blabbering will follow just as soon as I think of more stuff to share...

Spice of Life

I'm slightly disgruntled this morning. There are many reasons - but I won't go into them now.

I think you can tell a lot about a person from the various spices that they have in their kitchen. What spurred this line of thinking? Well, I decided a couple of weeks ago that my dried spices were looking less than vibrant - which is usually a good sign that it's time to dump them and get new ones.
I replaced my; paprika, parsley flakes, cinnamon, curry powder, zaatar and a whole bunch of others. While I was at it I washed each glass jar and relabeled them. The spice-wall looks so much happier and more alive now. I love the colors! Yellows, browns, greens, reds and of course the simple black and white of the salt and pepper.
Most days I sit around on my couch doing nothing but my mind is almost always racing a million miles an hour. I can't say that I think of lofty ideal things or that I've found the cure for cancer, or that I've done anything worthy of note - but at least my mental faculties take a stroll around the block on a daily basis. I definitely don't challenge my mind the way I used to in school, or the way I do when I'm problem-solving - but my mind definitely gets more exercise than my body nowadays. Truth be told most of the time I sit around thinking about the projects that I could (or should) be working on. I've got a myriad of unfinished projects sitting around and waiting for 'someday' and another huge pile of things I've never tried but 'want to try' at some point.

I'd like to say that today will be the day that I finish something or do something or make something great - but the fact is that I just can't promise that.

And that makes me sad.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

מחקים

General wrap-up of today. Z's classmate didn't come over. (That's the 2nd time this week I've cooked because I thought someone was going to come over and they didn't show up. I should really learn my lesson.)

I was desperate for homemade chunky tomato sauce on my pasta for dinner but Z got all OCD about pesto (because I mentioned it in passing in the wee hours of the morning) so we wound up having pesto on our pasta.

Behold the pretty purple basil from The Polly Gardens:
The new garlic knot recipe was incredibly amazing. The dough was soft and wonderful. It rose beautifully and baked up like a dream. The crust was crispy and the inside was soft and delightful. The knots absorbed just the right amount of garlic oil and *sigh* all I can really say is - Yum.
Now that there's so much extra pesto leftover I'm thinking of baking up some of these Pesto Rolls to snack on. I'm on a serious yeast kick, though I'm not sure why.

Tomorrow I've got to cook up the chicken soup (2 HUGE pots - enough soup for this Shabbos and for 'Boys Shabbos' the weekend after Shavuos.) At least I've got challah in the freezer. Yay for BIG batches and lots of freezer space!

I'm gonna go brush my teeth (again) those knots were awesome but combined with the pesto - I'm gonna be tasting garlic for the next few days - at least...

Dinosaur Bubbles!

Last night there were 2 mosquitoes buzzing around the apartment. Z said he'd take care of them. Off he went with the broom to squash his little foes. 2 bites on the foot later I was annoyed. So I took the broom and squashed them myself. I know - sometimes I may seem cold and heartless, but why should I give it to mosquitoes? It seems pretty unfair - not only do they get a meal, but then I wind up with itchy welts for weeks at a time. Lose/lose situations don't work for me - so I say - Squash the little buggers!

This morning we woke up bright and early to do our weekly foray to 'Yesh' for groceries. Shavuot sales are in full swing in the dairy department so we got 4 containers of cottage cheese for a fraction of the usual cost. (Yay for lasagna - a dish we decided to stop making too often because the ingredients cost more than a whole chicken!) We also snagged the tail-end of the awesome pasta sale - 8 bags for just 15 shekels! That's less than 2 shekels for each bag! Granted there were only spiral-y noodles and spaghetti left in stock - but we took 4 of each anyway. Pasta is pasta after all.

As (lack of) luck would have it we had just missed a bus after our shopping spree, and we forgot to bring the cooler bag for the 'cold stuff' - so we ended up waiting close to 1/2 an hour for a bus in the blazing sun - standing - in an effort to shade the more perishable items from the direct sunlight.

There were many funny chayalim on the bus and we helped them out by showing them which stop they were supposed to get off at. (It gets confusing that there are 2 'centers' in the city. You have to know which 'rova' you need in order to know where to get off the bus - and they're quite a long distance from one another - so unless you're prepared to walk for 25 minutes or wait 1/2 an hour for a bus - you'd better know where you're trying to get to.)

Back at Home we pulled a container of tomato vegatable soup (with stupid little white beans) out of the freezer and had a delicious lunch. Then Z headed off to school.

I took a quick afternoon nap - cause face it, there isn't anything else to do around here. Then I stuck a load of laundry into the machine, took my vitamin B and sat down to decide what to make for dinner.

I was going to make spaghetti with pesto - (cause The Crazy Lady sent a whole bunch of basil with the girls erev-shabbos) - but I really want garlic knots, and I feel like they would go so much better with a tomato-type sauce. So now I'm thinking - pasta with homemade chunky tomato sauce and a bit of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top with awesome fluffy garlic knots. (I'm hoping they'll be awesome and fluffy anyway - I found a new recipe that I'm very excited to try. Photo's will be taken...)

Speaking of the knots - I should really go make the dough so that it has time for its 2 required rises and then will be done just in time for dinner.

I'm thinking of making a batch of muffins too - maybe chocolate chip. Cause Z may or may not be having a friend over (for dinner) and to work on a school project. Doesn't hurt to make a batch of muffins anyway - I think we're down to the last coffeecake muffin in the freezer...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Incompetent Instructors

As of yesterday evening the heatwave had officially broken. (For this week anyway.) The temperature dropped 10 degrees and a cool breeze blew in across the valley. This morning was delightfully chilly and the afternoon was absolutely delightful - quite warm but with an amazing breeze. Maybe this is Utopia after all.

This morning I went on an outing to the 'mercaz rova alef' to run some errands. I returned some library books, bought some cheese and picked up my package at the post office. The funny hat sherut driver showed up as I was heading to town so I got a ride with him and on my way Home a bus pulled up just 5 minutes after I got to the stop.

Back at Home I decided to be completely unproductive. I sat myself down and organized the photos and then put them into the 'Family Photo Albums' - I finally filled up the original albums that I bought a few years ago. I've got 600 photos of the family printed and organized dating from 2006-current. Now I've got to pick up some more albums. I think it's important to keep up with printing photos - and now that I've found this super cheap place online (just 40 agurot per picture - if you're ordering over 50 prints) it's super-easy. I don't have to go into the store twice - I just have to pick up a package at the post office.

I watched 2 pointless movies this afternoon and tried to help The Crazy Lady choose a quilting pattern for a new project of hers. I shmoozed with Shosh and ate a whole lot of mac'n'cheese and roasted sunflower seeds.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll do something more exciting. Not sure what yet - I really really want to make some exciting flavor of ice cream. I found a recipe for Peanut & Chocolate Chip ice cream - and it sounds really really tempting...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Riboflavin

Last night I slept in very short stretches. Part on the couch, part in the guest room, part in my bed and I was awake for the rest of it. The insomnia was due to the heat and random night-time noises that were just a tad too loud for my light-sleeper-status.

This morning I woke up bright and early. It was only 7:30 AM but it was already 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to worry - it got hotter over the course of the day. Finally in the evening the heatwave sort of broke and now it's nice and cool out. I just wish there weren't quite so much dust in the air.

At 10:00 this morning a neighbor called - she wanted to come over and hang out (since she lives down in the valley - where there is no breeze.) I said "sure" and then realized that if I was going to have company I'd better have something to feed her. So I got to work. I baked up a batch of oatmeal rolls, made a big batch of macaroni and cheese and brewed 4 liters of 'Not Quite Snapple' lemon iced tea.

Around 2:00 PM (just as I was taking the rolls out of the oven) the phone rang. It was my neighbor - basically, it was brutally HOT out, she had a lot to do and would it be alright if she came a different day instead. I assured her that there was no problem, and that we could reschedule.

Then I sat down and had an amazingly delicious lunch while bumming out in front of a pointless movie. (Ain't unemployment grand? Oooooh yeah!)

I did manage to do 2 loads of laundry. (Well, I washed and folded them anyway - they're still sitting on Z's bed...) I swept the floor. (Kind of pointless since we were experiencing a serious sandstorm which deposited another layer of grit on the tiles as soon as I'd gone over them.) I washed the dishes. (There are always more dishes to wash - but I feel like it's an accomplishment to keep up with them.) Most importantly, I had a wonderful snack waiting for Z when he got home from school - oatmeal rolls with a side of macaroni and cheese! Surprise and YUM! He had a surprise for me too - an iced coffee!!! Totally awesome deliciousness!

Now we've got the windows open and we're trying to 'air out' and 'cool down' the apartment. I'm hoping that with the weather confusion that the mosquitoes will all be too confused to find their way into the building tonight. Thankfully it's supposed to be cooler tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow - I found a website for a photo-printing place which allows you to upload photos that you want printed and order prints all online - then they send them to you registered mail. It even comes out cheaper than traveling into Jerusalem to get pictures printed at the place I used to go to when we lived there. Anywho - I ordered 50 prints and received the 'pick up slip' from the post-office today - so tomorrow I'm going to go and pick them up. I'm really quite excited. (I've been wanting to get this batch printed for a while now - and I've just been adding on photos as the months pass by. So I'm happy to have gotten it done.)

Now I'm off to build my 'dream house' with Z - this translates to - he's got a project due and I'm going to help whether he likes it or not...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pimpleton & Squomito

Well, Shabbos was a smashing success. Freddie, Phil, Sarah Leah and Raizi joined us for the weekend. 3 in the guest room and 1 on the couch - it worked just fine, except that the 1 on the couch attracted some very hungry bugs and woke up with, I think it was 18 mosquito bites at final count. Luckily we had Fenistil on hand - even though it was only a small tube...

One of our neighbors down the hill was feeling under the weather and was subsequently ordered by her Dr. not to have any guests or go anywhere or breathe on anybody. She wasn't really in any state to cook Shabbos - or do much of anything aside from feel miserable and sick - so I offered to send chicken soup, challah and desserts - which meant that I got to bake a whole recipe of challah (which meant I got to do hafrashat challah - which was super exciting.) I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 7.5 cups of bread flour and the loaves came out light, fluffy and pretty darn tasty (well, I thought so anyway.)
For the menu record:
Friday night dinner - roasted garlic, chumus, pickles, chicken soup with (fluffy) matzah balls, Indian chicken with chickpeas, Basmati rice, sweetly glazed sweet potatoes and peas
Shabbos Lunch - chumus, fatoush salad, couscous salad, potato gratin (with sautéed onions and mushrooms), carrot muffins and corn muffins
Seudah Shlishit - chumus, couscous salad, chickpea salad and whatever else we could find in the fridge
Desserts included - turtle brownies (a'la Raizi), peanut butter chocolate cupcakes, mini strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream, oatmeal craisin cookies with white chocolate chips and cookie brittle (made with charedi M&M type candies - tasty and colorful!)
It was quite a busy weekend - burning caramel, talking to a cricket, helping a (rather silly) fly get outside, pirkei avot, scratching mosquito bites, taking out the trash, planning vacations and so much more.

Freddie was super duper nice and agreed to stay in Ariel Saturday night too so that Sunday morning she could give us a ride to Jerusalem. We left bright and early (7:45ish) and made it to the city without any issues. At tachana merkazit we bumped into Coren (or rather, he bumped into us) and we all waited for the bus together. An extremely packed 21 wasn't letting anyone else on, so we decided to take the 18. While waiting to board another bus pulled up but all we could see was the numeral 2 - so we assumed it was a 21 and ran for it - only to realize that it was actually a 20 and that it wouldn't get us where we needed to go. And so - back to the 18 we ran. There were even seats towards the back of the bus.

Z and Phil got off in town - Phil went to meet a friend before school and Z went to misrad haklita to deal with some things. I went down to Emek Refaim to run an errand.

Z and I met at TM at 10:45 to catch the 11:00 bus Home. The Big Guy Upstairs must have been watching out for us because He sent a super-old bulletproof bus with super-can't see-thru'em windows that could barely make it up the hills. In Ofra the bus driver announced that since the bus was struggling so much that anyone going to yishuvim between Jerusalem and Ariel should disembark and that a different bus would be along in '5 minutes' to pick them up - and that the bus would now be going 'yashir' (directly) to Ariel. And so the 1 hour 40 minute ride was shortened by about 20 minutes and got to skip a whole lot of loop-dee-loops.

Lunch was a feast of leftovers and I'm not quite sure what to make for dinner yet. Z is working on a big project that has got to be presented tomorrow - so maybe I'll make him something special as a treat.

Hard to believe it's the beginning of another week and that Shavuot is so close! Where does the time go?!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mommies out there - especially to my Mean'Ma and my super special Savta too!!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Distillation of Alcohol

There was a 1AM mosquito sighting which culminated in a brutal and bloody death - for the mosquito. This heroic killing brings our 'mosquito killing count' up to Lori:8 vs Zsh:3.

I didn't bother getting out of bed until 8:00 this morning. Z's first class was cancelled - so he got to sleep late too. I decided that the first order of the day would be cupcakes. Mini-strawberry cupcakes to be precise. I had my doubts about the recipe. (I mean, who puts cornstarch into a cake batter?) Nevertheless the teeny cupcakes emerged from the oven smelling a beautiful shade of pink and smelling like summertime. We split one warm from the oven and it was pretty good. Then we tested another one when they had cooled completely. Now I've got to whip up the strawberry buttercream frosting and we'll have to try another one.

The second order of business was the chicken soup. I put up 2 pots of the magic elixir. Two short hours later I turned off the fire and basked in the smell of Shabbos. Why 2 pots? Well, one of my friends in the neighborhood is feeling quite under the weather and her hubby is 'out of it' too. The Dr. instructed her to stay in bed and not receive guests - it seems she's got some sort of super-virus. So, I offered to send over challah, chicken soup and desserts for Shabbos. So - one pot for us and one pot for them. (I'm cooking for 6 people anyway - so an extra 2 doesn't really make a difference. At least, I don't think it does.)

Next I tackled the peanut-butter filled chocolate cupcakes. In my defense it was my first time making them - so I don't feel too bad that the insides collapsed in on themselves. I'll have to tweak the recipe next time. The good news is that they are downright delicious!

Before sitting down to type up this post I put together the challah dough and set it in a sunny spot to rise.

All in all I'm doing pretty well with the Shabbos cooking. I've just got to make the potato gratin and I think that'll be that for today. There won't be much to do tomorrow either - which makes me quite happy.

I've got a container of cottage cheese in the fridge and I've really got to use it, so I'm thinking of making a lasagna for dinner tonight.

I know - I think I'll go make the matzah ball goop now. I do so love matzah balls! Maybe I'll make them with seltzer this week? Hehe, I'll bet Z won't even realize. Tricksy tricksy...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Grasshoppers

Well, we managed to do our grocery shopping this morning. We got off the bus in town and figured we'd run an errand or two there and then walked down to Yesh. It was a nice walk because it wasn't overly hot out in the wee hours of the morning. I bought bread flour so that I can make some challah and Z chose the biggest fresh chicken in the entire store - he claims it'll be perfect for Shabbos.

Speaking of Shabbos - since last week was such a success I was kind of on a guest 'high' and I was sort of hoping to have guests again this week. The question was simply - who to invite? So I did what I always do when I can't figure things out on my own - I asked Mommy for some advice. "Ask your sisters" was her response, or something along those lines. So, I asked and they said "sure!"

Then I extended an invitation to another friend (figuring that 3 would be 'funner' than 2) and within the hour a 4th had called to see if she could join in the fun. Somebody will have to sleep on a couch - but I think that'll be alright. We'll manage. It'll be fun!

Dinner tonight was a special sort of affair. I agreed to let Z BBQ some chicken on our stolen grill (we took it from the parentals post-pesach.) Wings for Z, shnitzel for me (which turned into a delicious chicken salad) and french fries for everybody.

Now I'm trying to sort out my menu for the weekend. I've got most of it figured out, but I need another salad for lunch and I have to make up my mind about the desserts. (Desserts are totally the most important part. Aren't they?) I've got to decide between strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream or those peanut butter filled chocolate cupcakes that I've been itching to bake all week. It's a tough choice. A really tough choice.

Tomorrow I'll start my cooking. Last week I was done with everything by around 2:30 - cause I lazed around a bit and I only started making challah dough at 12:15. Still, finishing before 3 isn't too bad - considering that once everything is done, there's really nothing to do. (Last week our guests arrived at 4 and were shocked that not only was everything cooked, but that everything was clean and ready for Shabbos - I'd even showered by that point. They were very impressed. Truth be told - so was I.)

Random note - cooking up chickpeas is so much better than always relying on canned ones. You get to control the salt content and flavor. They also have a totally different texture than their canned compatriots. I'm not saying that I don't keep a can in the pantry for 'emergency situations' - I'm just saying that I'd rather cook up a big potful of them, and have a whole bunch in the freezer ready and waiting to go.

Alright - I'm off to read for a bit and then some shut-eye.

Tomorrow Shabbos cooking begins - chicken soup, desserts, chickpeas, potato gratin, and who knows what else...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Quotidian Routine

Lots of stuff is going on in the world - but nothing much is going on here.

I slept on the couch in the office last night. I'm not sure why - all I know is that it was midnight and then it was 7 in the morning. Strangely enough it was the first night in about 3 weeks that I slept straight through. I didn't hear the mosque-music at 4:20AM and I didn't stare at the dark ceiling from 3:00-5:00. It was actually rather refreshing - aside from the fact that I didn't roll over at all - so my arm and shoulder were quite sore.

I started off the day by washing the magical accumulation of dishes. (I honestly don't know where they come from.) I also washed 3 loads of laundry - a dark, colorful and white. I was super-productive and even folded them as they came out of the dryer. (Yes, I use a dryer - cause I'm spoiled like that. And yes, the folded laundry IS still sitting on the couch in the living room. But hey, at least it's clean - and folded.)

I briefly considered a kitchen escapade but thought better of it. I've still got brownies, cinnamon swirl cake and oatmeal cookies leftover from Shabbos - not to mention 3 types of muffins in the freezer. Bread-making seemed silly, since I just baked a loaf yesterday and there is still at least 1 loaf of white bread in the freezer, along with an oatmeal roll (ok, only 1 - but it counts), a package of pitot, 1/2 a loaf of store-bought sliced bread and a whole bunch of started challah-parts.

As for dinner - it's time to visit that magical place we've definitely been before - also known as - leftoverland! There's enough chicken for Z, shnitzel for me, kugel for us both. Maybe I'll be nice though and make us some fresh couscous (considering I'm the one who ate all of the rice for lunch yesterday...)

Tomorrow morning we're supposed to do a 'grocery run' to Yesh - I don't understand how I can possibly need more groceries, I did an enormous shopping not even 2 weeks ago - and yet, I've got a whole list written out.

I think Z wants to go see a movie tomorrow night. While I'm sure it would be a whole lot of fun, I'm not sure whether I'll actually be able to enjoy myself after the hour and a bit ride to the mall in Petach Tikva. (This motion-sickness thing really bites. Big-time.)

Alrighty - enough whining and complaining - I'm gonna go find Toffee and find something else to do. I'm bored of sitting around and playing on the computer.

Latch-hook? Maybe.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Acidophilus

Hello world! First of all - I'd just like to state that Shabbos was incredibly and amazingly wonderful! I hope our guests enjoyed the weekend as much as we did. All the food came out amazingly, the babyproofing wasn't nearly as hard as I had thought it would be, the weather was beautiful - honestly - no complaints from this peanut gallery!

Sunday was spent traveling to Jerusalem and then back Home again. I really don't like the busride - mostly because it stretches what should be a scenic 40 minute ride into a grueling, nauseating two-hour affair which winds its way through every hilltop town along the way.

Today was relatively quiet and relaxing. Z made pancakes for breakfast (next time hopefully he'll double-check the recipe...) and then he went to school. I worked on 'the neverending project' for about 1.5 hours and then shut down the computer and decided to have an adventure in the kitchen. I had a hard time deciding whether to make a sweet sort of confection or something more practical and healthful - like bread.

Eventually I settled on "Honey Oatmeal Bread" - I figured you can't go wrong with a whole-wheat bread that's sweetened with honey and has oatmeal in it. Right? Right!
Suffice it to say - it turned out absolutely deeelicious! I completely changed around the recipe (even though it was my first time making it) and I sure am glad I did - cause it was incredible!

Obviously I didn't do it alone - I had some help (of the fuzzy variety):
The nicest part of the day was when Z came Home from school with a present for me. He brought me an iced coffee - one of my very favorite treats!

I drank it while munching on a slice of fresh bread with the tiniest bit of butter on it.

Could a Monday get any better than that?

In my honest opinion - probably not.