Monday, May 30, 2011

Window Size is Crucial

Z pulled an all-nighter last night. When I got out of bed at 7:00 this morning he was still at the computer working. He finally decided to take a 'nap' from 7:30-8:30.

At around 9 my neighbor Aviva came to visit. I was supposed to teach her some computer-related stuff, but it turned into a really nice 3 hour social visit. I enjoyed, and Z shared his muffins for brunch so all was good.

She left at around 12, then I did nothing much for a few hours.

At a little after 2 - Z called to ask if his friends could come over to play 'Settlers' and I said it was alright, because he deserves to have down-time with friends. He said they'd be Home at around 8:30-9pm.

I suddenly had to revise my 'no cook dinner tonight' idea. I haven't actually gone grocery shopping in about 2 weeks. I didn't want to make pasta - because I made pasta for the guys when they came last week. I was running ridiculously low on vegetables. So what the heck was I supposed to make for 4 guys who have spent the last 12 hours in school?! Z said, "soup" so I went with soup.

I threw together a big pot of minestrone soup and some whole wheat oatmeal rolls. I even found some extra carrots and mushrooms that I was able to slice up and put out with chumus. The leftover frosting from the community bbq came in handy - because it made it pretty clear that the easiest dessert to make was a 9x13 pan of sugar cookie bars. Easy peasy.

I experimented with coloring sugar today -  I really need a nice deep dark red color for the cookies I'm making for the event that I'm catering. I tried adding some black to my red, but I think it turned brown. It's hard to tell and looks different depending on the light. On a different note - I didn't want to leave the frosting for the sugar-cookie-bars pastel blue so I added some extra green and yellow hoping to make it slightly different. I wound up with a horrific looking aquamarine color. That wouldn't have been too bad, except I was feeling extremely impatient and I'm not sure what I was thinking but 10 minutes after pulling the bars from the oven I smeared on the frosting. It started to melt and ooze - so I smeared fast and put the whole tray into the fridge. It set somewhat and looked alright, but the frosting turned out a really awful color - especially in the florescent lights...

The guys didn't end up arriving until a little after 10. They are then realized that they had forgotten the game down in their caravan - so 2 went down to retrieve it. I guess it was worthwhile because in the meantime Z and the 3rd one sat down and seriously analyzed Z's studio-project - the one he wasted an entire semester (and last night on.)

I'm currently eavesdropping on their back-&-forth critique session. The good news is that the project might be salvageable. That means that an entire semester's work might not be going in the garbage. I wonder what the final verdict will be.

Tomorrow we're supposed to go grocery shopping.

It's only a little after 11pm - why am I so tired?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

You Are NOT Chopped Liver!

This past weekend was our very first Shabbos Home alone in about 4 months. Literally 16 weeks. 2 of those were spent in The Sun House and the other 14 involved guests - most of them sleep-over guests.

We took in 'early shabbos' again - because it's brilliant! I drive Z down to shul then light when I get Home. He only ends up walking 30 minutes back Home (while it's still light out) instead of 45 minutes half in the pitch black. Plus we get to eat at a reasonable hour. I am definitely a fan.

Friday night after lighting candles, I sat out on the mirpeset and read as the sun sank in the sky. I really love the view that we've got - until the new buildings go up anyway.

We went to sleep on the early side (since we'd been up battling mosquitoes throughout the night on Thursday. Z is way ahead of me in the squeeto-squashing-score 9-to-1 or something obscene like that, and all juicy-ones to boot.)

I was woken up by the sound of rain at a little after 5am on Shabbos morning. I quickly closed all of the doors and windows and marveled at the delightful chill in the air. At around 9 I was happy to open the windows again and let the delicious smell of 'clean' float through the apartment.

The afternoon passed quite quickly and before we knew it the day was gone. Stars were twinkling so we made havdala before straightening up a bit. We decided to read some more instead of watching tv or a movie.

The meals were simple but delicious. I was very pleased with the selection.

Friday Night: roasted garlic, chumus, challah, chicken soup (with 2 matzah balls on the side), white rice, couscous, Gramma's tomato chicken, baby peas
Shabbos Lunch: roasted garlic, chumus, challah, FF 'not quite tri-color' pasta salad, mushroom barley bake, FF rice kugel, FF mashed potato kugel, simple roast chicken, sauteed chicken breast, couscous
Dessert: cookie brittle, FF PB CC Oat-flour cookies

Sunday started waaaaay too early. I thought that 6:30am was early for the 'construction' to begin, but this morning they were banging away right outside my window at 5:15 in the morning?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I honestly do not understand how it can be allowable. I should call the cops and see what they say. (Though, one of our downstairs neighbors is a police officer and I suppose if he hasn't done anything about it - then maybe there's nothing that can be done.)

The only really productive thing that I did today was 'number crunching' for a project that I'm working on. I'm doing a favor for a friend and helping to cater a dessert-buffet event for 160-200 people right after Shavuos. I'm not planning on doing it on a regular basis or anything - but my friend could really use the help and I am excited to do the work knowing that it will be enjoyed. Don't worry, I'll be getting paid for the gig - it's a real 'win-win' situation for both of us.

I also got to 'skype' with some shmooshes who never fail to make me smile! (That's a serious 'ponytail' over there - just for the record.)

Aside from that, I corrected a couple of typos in the recipe-collection. (I really need to print the photos already so that I can deliver the books.)

The guys aren't coming over this week because the entire Arch department is hard at work on their final studio projects. I basically won't be seeing or spending any time with Z until after June 23rd. Isn't that nice? *sigh*

In other interesting news - Z tested one of the 'new recipe' strawberry super-muffins from the freezer and the verdict was that they held up very well to the icy-treatment. He defrosted and warmed it in the microwave for 35-40 seconds and then wolfed it down. He seemed quite pleased with it. Maybe tomorrow he'll try one of the peach variety for breakfast.

Tomorrow a neighbor might be coming over so that I can teach her some computer-y stuff. I also need to make another batch of waffles for the freezer. I really want to assemble a batch or 2 of personal-pizzas for he freezer while I'm at it. I defrosted the tomato sauce from last week and want to use up the last of the grated cheese before it goes bad. So that's my plan. (Now that I've publicized it I'm hoping that I'll actually do it.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh Zoot...

6:30am wake-up - though I don't know why. Oh wait, yes I do. Stupid construction.

Z finally got up at a little before 9 and decided to go to school. I figured I should really get out of the house so I snapped on my pedometer, filled up my water bottle and off we went. I didn't have any real plan of how far I would go but as I made my way down down down I decided that I didn't want to walk all the way back up. I figured that as long as I followed the bus-route I could always hop on a bus. Eventually I reached the last bus-stop that I was willing to walk to. A quick calculation made me realize that waiting 30-45 minutes for a bus in the sun was silly when a 20 minute uphill trek would get me back home. So I hoofed it back up the mountain.
With over 6,000 steps (that's about 3 miles) logged on my pedometer I was ready to be productive.

For some weird reason I couldn't seem to get it through my head that today was Thursday and that Shabbos cooking really needed to be done... I guess there's always tomorrow.

We're planning on taking 'early shabbos' again this week - but that still gives me until almost 6pm to prep all of the food. On a really exciting note - it's our first quiet shabbos in 16 weeks and I am thrilled and overjoyed! I love having guests - but sometimes a quiet weekend alone is exactly the right medicine. Instead of cooking for shabbos I decided to restock the muffins-selection in the freezer.I had strawberries and a few sad looking peaches so I figured I'd turn them into something. I wish I could link you to the original recipes - but I didn't follow either of them anyway.

The strawberry muffins are a basic buttermilk muffin with diced fresh strawberries folded into the batter. Then strawberry jam gets swirled into the muffins to kick up the taste a notch - and it's all topped off with a cinnamon-y almond struesel topping.

The peach muffins are so 'autumn-y' - they're made with brown sugar and packed with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Of course fresh diced peaches are folded straight into the batter.

Z seemed to like both - so I'm hoping they'll actually get eaten.

Lots to do tomorrow - but it shouldn't take too long.
I'm really not looking forward to the heatwave which is forecast for tomorrow (and most likely Shabbos too.)
I'd better remember to water the plants in the morning.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

For the Children!

Not too much happened today. It was a quiet sort of morning. I drizzled potato chips with white and dark chocolate as an experiment after seeing someone chocolate-dip chips in Tastespotting a few days ago. For the record - they're the perfect salty/sweet combo - but use good chips and good chocolate for the best results.
I added some more recipe-cards to the photo-book-file. I'm up to 190 now. I'm aiming for 198 - but it's going to take some brainstorming. I've already included all of my favorites.

Z washed all of the dishes without me asking and I ate a lot of chicken soup.

I got the nicest phone call from Sara Kapara. She was in a huge 'American Product' store somewhere on the coast and wanted to know if there was anything I could think of that I wanted. She really wanted to buy me a present. I told her to surprise me and she brought me the coolest collection of things ever!!!!

Lyle's Golden Syrup - to experiment with because supposedly fructozoids can tolerate it.
Almond Butter - because I can't get it ground finely enough to satisfy in my food processor.
Almond Paste - because I really want to make marzipan.
Vanilla Cane Sugar - it's exactly what it sounds like, and it's going to be reserved for super special things like flavoring my almond milk!
Coffee Extract - because it's something new and fun to use for her birthday! I love flavorings and extracts!
Light Corn Syrup - because I'm almost out and I can't make caramel popcorn or taffy without it.
and...
Mini Oreos for Z - cause we like him too.

Definitely the awesomest present!!! I am super duper excited to get into the kitchen!!!
Tomorrow is another day - hopefully more exciting things will happen. It's also 'Student Day' here are our local 'University Center' - so there aren't any classes. Just a lot of partying and having fun.

I'm thinking of attempting some sort of pizza-type-thing with no dairy and very little sauce... On second though - maybe I'll make myself some almond milk and some cookies.

Yeah - milk and cookies sounds good.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bathtub Gin

Alright, I'll admit it - I tampered with the date on this one. I only did it because it's all about yesterday and I don't intend to leave you in a week-long lurch again anytime soon. Aren't I sweet? As proof of my devotion here's a picture of that amazing buttermilk cake that I made for shabbos:
I should really stop commenting on what time I get up and claiming that it's early. Plenty of people with schedules get up earlier than I do. Truth be told - I like getting up early. I'm a morning person - so sue me. For some reason, the work I get accomplished before 10 in the morning feels like it's worth three times as much as what I do over the course of the remainder of the day. I'm weird, I know.

Anyway - I woke up yesterday morning and bummed around. Actually, I was semi-productive and figured out the hours for Bituach Leumi. (They're only open 3 days a week - and by days I mean either from 8:30-12 or from 14-16. Not both and not on the same days. Sunday & Thursday in the morning and Monday in the afternoon. Strange, huh?)

I offered Z leftover carrot kugel for breakfast - which meant that it actually got eaten. (Yeah yeah - not that interesting - but what can I say, it was a pretty boring morning.)

At 2:30 I left the house for Bituach Leumi's offices. I was in, out and back at home in under 1/2 an hour. That's even though there were 6 people ahead of me on line, and I needed to fill out a form which I only got once my number had been called and I got into the 'inner' office. It amazes me how bureaucratic offices in this country outside of Jerusalem are almost a pleasure to go to. Why are they so obnoxious in Jeru? I really don't understand it. (And don't say it's because Jeru is a big city - I went to ma'am and mas hachnasa in Petach Tikva last week...)
I made it Home before Z left for school. On his way out the door he asked if it would be alright for the usual 'game crew' to come over after school to play Settlers. I figured something along the lines of, "I've got pasta - sure, why not?" then told him it was fine.

I then proceeded to bum around until they about an hour before they were due to arrive. For some reason pasta alone just doesn't cut it for me for a dinner (especially for 4 hungry guys.) I decided to make bread. But what kind of decent bread-y thing can be made in an hour that's tasty and will go with pasta? To make things even more complicated - I had to decide what to put on the pasta. Drunken Spaghetti? Pasta with Eggplant? All the 'real' recipes seemed too complicated - so I stuck with the easiest thing I knew how to - I made a nice sized pot of 'chunky tomato sauce' which I stirred into the pasta (to prevent it from drying out and/or sticking.) Since I was going with a classic tomato sauce I figured I could make garlic knots as a side. Then I remembered that our favorite garlic knot recipe take 2 hour and 15 minutes from start to table. So... I brainstormed and decided to play around with my favorite pizza dough recipe.

I mixed up the pizza dough and as it all mixed I sprinkled in some garlic powder, dried parsley, extra kosher salt and some red-chili-flakes. After the dough rose for about 1/2 an hour (more than enough time to clear the drying racks, wash the dishes from by the sink, put together tomato sauce and put up the pasta) I divided it into 32 pieces then proceeded to 'knot' them all. I let them rise for a few minutes on the tray before brushing them with some olive oil and popping them into the oven for 18 minutes. When the timer rang I pulled them out and brushed them again - then I let them cool.

Suffice it to say - when the front door opened and I heard exclamations of, "it smells like a bakery in here!" I smiled.

I served the saucy pasta with Parmesan and Mozzarella on the side, the knots and all of the leftover sliced veggies from Shabbos - because everybody loves the refreshing crunch of vegetables and I like having color on the table.

Finally the game got underway. It was our first time using our very own '5-6 player extension' - and we had 6 at the table. I'm not quite sure how it happened but the board was insane and everyone crowded around 1 corner - except for me. Then lucky numbers kept getting rolled so I cordoned off 1/3 of the board and won the game while everyone else had 4 or less points. How often does that happen? They continued playing (since there were 5 of them left and they all had so few points.) The game took about 3 hours in total and the 2nd place winner was Odelya - it really was a 'girls night' for winning - and for her it was a fun first-time experience. I'm pretty sure she'll be back - though I don't know if the guys will let us play again. It's funny because they always ask me if I want to play and I always decline - I guess now they know I just want them to keep their egos intact. ;) Cause who likes being beaten by a girl at a 'guys game'! (heeheehee!)
The gang left at a little before 2am. I went straight to sleep because there was nothing to clean up - they did it all. I love that people come over and feel so comfortable here. It makes me happy and means that I've done a pretty good job creating the atmosphere I've always wanted in a home. At least - that's the way I figure it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Like Y2K All Over Again...

Wow - a week has gone by since my last post! Sorry I disappeared. Last week was somewhat insane.

Last Tuesday: Well, I went grocery shopping at Yesh with Sara & Renat. Then I dropped them off at their caravan and picked up my cd-case. The rest of the day was boring aside from battling with a bazillion flies, the sky being yellow and gross looking from some weird weather phenomenon and the swarms of ants in my living room. We have determined that the ants are actually living inside the big sliding door-frame. Pretty gross if you ask me. We cinnamon-ed the floor (inside and outside) so now the ants are climbing up the door instead - pain in the butt bugs, but gotta hand it to them, pretty darn smart...

Last Wednesday: 2 dozen phone calls, flopped unfloppable challahs (because I am that talented), chicken soup for breakfast (since I hadn't been tolerating anything else for the last few days.) We made our first batch of lemonade with nana (spearmint) picked from our garden. I baked 2 batches of sugar cookie bars and 1 batch of cherry jam crumble bars for the bbq Thursday night. Abe slept over (and brought me all of my present from Merryca - cupcake liners, candy thermometers, spices and extracts.) Little Brother came over to visit and Sara came over after class too. I made pretzel dogs, seasoned potato wedges and sliced veggies for dinner.

On Thursday I woke up ridiculously early. By 8:45 I was on the road to Petach Tikva to visit The Freddies. I got to their house with no problems (aside from the street being closed) and Freddie and I walked over to the 'Ma'am Building' when I officially opened a 'tik' (file) with ma'am and with mas hachnasa. I'm officially in business now and it is super exciting! During our stroll back to Freddie's house I noticed a photo-store. We ducked in and I managed to buy 2 photo-albums for only 20 shekel a piece for the cookbooks! Back at her house Freddie gathered her stuff then I drove us to the mall where we did some wandering, window shopping and bought some really cute kitchen stuff (I got 3 little salad bowls, a cute baking dish with a lid, and the most adorable 1 liter pitcher ever.) Our next stop was at the gas station so I could fill up my thirsty tank and our last errand was the famed 'batzal yarok' - a fruit and vegetable store on the corner near The Freddies' house. I picked up everything from peppers to nectarines and strawberries at amazing prices. Then I dropped Freddie of at her house and made my way back out to the middle-of-nowhere. I had a few minutes to sit and relax before heading out to take Sara to the dentist to get a wisdom tooth extracted. After the surgery we stopped in town to pick up some antibiotics for her and while we were there I picked up the salatim for Shabbos. I dropped her off at her caravan before going home to pick up Z, pack the desserts into the car and then heading out to the A4I Anglo BBQ in Rova Bet. We were there until almost 11pm and decided to leave when I realized how exhausted I was.

Friday morning I cooked for Shabbos like a crazy busy person. Then I took Sara out to the dentist - because she wanted to 'check it out' and make sure that everything looked good. After a 1-minute look-see we were out of there. I took a chance and drove over to the keilim mikvah to see if I could 'dunk' my new kitchen goodies. The water was pretty gross but I was determined to use the new stuff for Shabbos. Back at Home Z informed me that he wanted to 'try something new' and take in early Shabbos by davening in Rova Bet. That made candle-lighting at 5:40 instead of 7ish. Sara arrive at 5 and at 5:30pm I drove him down to the shul in Rova Bet then hurried Home and lit candles. Amazingly enough it worked out very well. He walked Home via the 'dirt security path' and the walk only took 35 minutes. Unbelievably enough he was Home by 7:15 - which meant that we were able to eat dinner about 2 hours earlier than if we had taken in Shabbos at the 'regular' time.

Shabbos lunch we were joined by Sara's friend Zvi and he stuck around all day so that they could study together for their upcoming exams. It was a lot of fun. We played Bananagrams, Phase 10 and even a game of Rummikub. Moza"sh Sara headed back down to her caravan. Z and I watched the season finale of Big Bang Theory and then went to sleep. I mean, it was a little after 11. We didn't go to any bonfires - we'd had quite enough of smoky icky-ness on Thursday night.

Menus (so I don't forget):
Friday Night: roasted garlic, salatim, challah, chicken soup, matzah balls, zaatar chicken, rice, mashed potatoes, baby peas
Shabbos Lunch: roasted garlic, salatim, challah, pickles, sliced veggies, couscous salad, pineapple kugel, carrot kugel, FF potato kugel, deli roll, honey mustard shnitzel, FF sauteed chicken breast
Desserts: super fudgy brownies with white chocolate chips, buttermilk cake with caramel glaze, chocolate chip 'crack' cookies, FF PB CC cookies.

This morning has been relatively quiet so far - aside from the construction. I'm busy putting the finishing touches on the 10x15 size recipe cards. I really want to send them off to print. I am still missing a number of photos - but I'll just have to add them in as I make the foods. I really don't have patience to keep 'owing' copies of the book to people. I have also added in a whole bunch of 'new' recipes. The albums that I bought on Thursday hold 200 photos each and I currently each book is 186 photos long. (Yeah, there are about 200 recipes included now.) I'm trying to decide whether to add in some random miscellaneous recipes for drinks (not-quite-snapple and lemonade) and for things like 'matzah balls'. I'm also too lazy to actually write out a recipe for 'chunky tomato sauce' - how evil is that?

Tomorrow I'm going to go to Bituach Leumi to take care of the '2nd to last' part of opening my business - the last part is finding myself an official accountant to file my papers for me at the end of the year. I have even already spoken with a client (who has been waiting for over a year for me to 'get my act together') and they are very excited that we can now move ahead with the project that they have had on hold for me since I moved out here to the middle-of-nowhere.

I'm looking forward to this week. It should be delightfully tranquil and easygoing. At least that's what I'm hoping - considering last week was anything but that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Little Car, Little Star...

I had such high hopes for today - but they came to nothing.

After another sleepless night with a ridiculously early wake-up I was frustrated to no end. I must have eaten something bad - looking at my food-journal the only thing I see which may have cause some sort of reaction was roasted salted cashews. I guess I just ate too many of them (though I only bought about 3/4 cup so I'm not quite sure how many is too many...)

I'm currently off of dairy following a cheese-induced all-out spazz-attack in my gut last week.

That doesn't leave me with too much to eat or very much desire to cook.

Z wound up bringing a friend over yesterday to work on a project. I played 'nice wife' and made pasta with a mushroom wine sauce and a batch of chocolate chip cookies for them to enjoy for lunch. My meal? A cold boiled potato. Yum, my favorite.

Back to today - I had planned on baking FF stuff for myself but was feeling 'icky' (for lack of a better term) so decided not to.

I did wash 2 loads of laundry and fold 3 loads. I also watered the plants and sat staring at my cute little pepper sproutlings - they're poking their little green stems up out of the soil and are just oh so cute!

I also got a call from the 'BBQ Committee' - they asked me to bring desserts for 50 people on Thursday night. I'm a little at a loss for what to make. I'm thinking a 9x13 pan of sugar cookie bars and a 9x13 pan of jam crumble bars. If I'm feeling super nice maybe I'll make a little bundt cake too - they're super easy and all.

I've also been informed that Wednesday night may be morphing into a 'boy night' here. Little Brother is scheduled to visit, and now Z may be having a the usual 'game crew' over. It would be really nice if everyone came - that's for sure. I'm making the same stuff anyway. Hotdogs wrapped in soft-pretzel, Wings, Potato wedges, sliced veggies and something awesome (and still undecided) for dessert.

For dinner tonight I served Z some Parmesan and breadcrumb coated Tilapia along with the leftover couscous stuffed tomatoes (yes, from Thursday - but I drizzled them with some more olive oil.)

I mapped out my journey for Thursday to Freddie's house and I'm actually really excited about it! I just have to keep up my enthusiasm and keep telling myself that I can do it!

Tomorrow I'll be going grocery shopping with Renat and Sara. It's going to be fun and it'll be out of the house - which we all know is a good thing for me.

For some weird reason I kept think that today was either Tuesday or Wednesday and it kept throwing me off - because I felt like I had so much to do - but I really didn't. The day confusion took a toll though and I was unable to relax very much. As a result - I am really tired now.

Here's to hoping that tonight my earplugs stay put and I can actually sleep straight through the night without waking up feeling sick. I really got used to sleeping through the night and I must admit, I rather enjoy it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shiitake Dipstick!

For dinner Thursday night I decided to try something new. Sarah Leah was set to arrive at around dinner-time so I figured I'd make something light, nutritious and delicious. I somewhat followed this recipe for couscous stuffed tomatoes and aside from the fact that I probably should have left them in the oven a tiny bit longer they seemed to be well accepted by my taste-testers. I served them with some little white fishies for protein.
Friday morning it was kind of overcast but Z and I went to town to run a few errands. I needed to pick up some vegetables and we had to stop off at the post office to pick up a package.

Z was very excited about the package, since it was a shaver for him. (He's sick of his beard and since it's been 3 years he wants to 'try something new' - though, I don't think it'll actually last.)

Anyway, we picked up the package and when we got home he ripped open the wrappings only to discover that the place had sent the wrong model. Poo! I called them up and asked what had happened. They were extremely apologetic and told me that if I mailed the 'wrong' one back to them that when they received it they would send out the 'correct' one with a courier service straight away.
Shabbos was super long. The food was good though. The afternoon dragged on seemingly forever and I napped a lot more than I should have - which resulted in a ridiculously late bedtime Saturday night - which was interrupted multiple times by some allergic-congestion... Summary - a really long Saturday following a really long Friday with no good sleep. I hate Shabbos in the summer. Seriously. Also - the weird weather really creeped me out. It's not supposed to rain and pour with thunder and lightning in mid-May - is it?

Friday Night: roasted garlic, salatim, chicken soup with matzah balls, Hawaiian chicken, rice, green beans.

Lunch: salatim, broiled salmon, FF potato salad, FF potato kugel, carrot kugel, sliced veggies basket (green, yellow & orange peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots)

Seudah Shlishit: leftovers from lunch, couscous salad

Desserts: FF brownies, chocolate chip cookies, FF PB CC cookies
Sarah Leah had to leave Motza"sh because of an 8am class on Sunday morning. They enjoyed some pizza and calzone from the freezer stash for melava malka and then she was off to catch the bus.

This morning Z woke up late (even though he was supposed to meet a friend at 9am to work on a school project.) I wound up driving him down to the campus on my way to the post-office to mail off the package containing the 'wrong' shaver. There weren't too many people on line ahead of me at the post office and I was in-and-out in about 15 minutes. Then I was Home way too quickly - even though I had to take the long way around because of some construction on the main-road.
I'm trying to figure out what to do for the rest of the day.

On Friday I noticed that the pepper seeds I had planted are actually growing - the little shoots are pushing up through the soil. I wonder if I'll actually get any peppers off of them. That would be so exciting!

There are a few snail-mail letters that I'm supposed to write and send out. I also have a bunch of arts-n-crafts projects to finish. I'm also supposed to bake some FF treats for myself, and am thinking that maybe I should make another batch of almond milk - since it was a superb thing to have on hand.

I really need to figure out my schedule for the week. I need to go grocery shopping at some point - I'll be in Petach Tikva on Thursday, so I keep thinking of going then - except I want to do most of my cooking on Wednesday which means I need the groceries before then. Tuesdays Z has no class so nothing gets done around the house. Wednesday I need to make Challah and possibly cookie dough. Thursday I'm supposed to be hanging out with Freddie, opening a business 'tik' (yes, finally), Taking Sara to the dentist so she can have a wisdom tooth removed then taking her home (or to my house) for weekend recuperation, Artists-4-Israel are coming back to The Holy Land and there's a BBQ for them Thursday night. Friday I'll be cooking and getting ready for Shabbos and having 1 sleep-over guest. Shabbos lunch I might be having 3 graffiti-artists join us for the meal although I'm not sure yet...

Like I said - I don't really have any idea what's flying - all I know is that it's going to be a pretty busy week.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tapu Chips

I know, I know - I totally forgot to post yesterday. It's not even like it was a busy day. I had all these big plans but didn't end up doing anything I had wanted to. (Probably a good thing since it involved a lot of baking and I ate 8 cookies from the freezer anyway...) Basically I spent yesterday in front of the computer. I watched some pointless tv. I also finalized a logo and worked on a book-cover design. The only thing I did that made me feel somewhat accomplished involved the 'family cookbook' that I have been arranging and re-arranging for the last 8 months. I have resized it 7 times so far - which is a bit much for any book.
As you may (or may not) remember I have been trying to find an economical way to print my collection of recipes. At this point I owe 4 people copies, I will owe another 3 copies in the next few months and over a dozen people have asked when they'll be able to get copies. I have been sending the book out in PDF form to certain special people - with a disclaimer that clears me of all responsibility with regard to typos - since I typed everything myself.
Anyway, I spent the majority of my day yesterday reformatting the recipes - 'one more time' - this time the plan is to print them as 10x15 photos and insert them into a photo album. I figure that this way the recipes themselves will be protected behind plastic and it might not be the most convenient book size, but people can move recipes around as they wish. All in all it seems like a good way to get it done. Plus getting photos printed and buying an album will come out about 150 shekel cheaper than getting the book printed at one of the 'photo book printing' places.
This morning I was awake at a little after 6 - thanks to the trucks outside and a painfully full bladder. I hopped out of bed feeling quite cheery and decided to make something special for Z.
I had bookmarked this recipe for one bowl waffles a few weeks ago and had been meaning to try it out. 'No time like the present' was what I figured. The batter came together quickly and I was amazed that I was able to find the waffle iron in the cupboard. The recipe made 10 waffles and Z ate 2 of them for breakfast. Theoretically you're supposed to be able to leave the batter in the fridge all week and use it as needed - but who really wants to get their waffle iron dirty so many times? I figured we'd go the way of 'Eggo' and freeze them then heat them up in the toaster. Since I was planning on reheating them I figured I should give the waffles a bit of a moisture-boost - so I used buttermilk (actually truth be told I made them pareve and used soy-buttermilk.)
Z actually got out of bed before 9 to eat his super-special breakfast. I was impressed.
The rest of the day is going to be busy. It is Thursday after all. I've already got chicken soup cooking, chicken defrosting, challot made, matzah ball goop chilling and I'm off to do some more in the kitchen. Desserts and food. Busy busy busy.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lovable Timmy

For some randomly inexplicable reason I didn't sleep too well last night. Aside from the mosquito buzzing around the bedroom at 3am, I just couldn't seem to sleep. It's been a while since that happened. I'm hoping we don't have any repeats because I really like sleeping through the night. Anyway - I woke up on the early side (after a 2 hour 'wake break' in the middle of the night.)Like a crazy person I was worried that the 7 batches of bread I baked yesterday wouldn't be enough to feed 50 people. As a result (and because Z didn't bother stopping me - since he was too busy sleeping) I put together 2 batches of Buttery Quick Rolls - which I love because they only take 50 minutes from start to finish.The ride to Ginot didn't take very much time at all. Why do I always think that it's so much further? The ride was even quicker than going to The Freddies' house. Kind of crazy if you ask me.At the cousins' house there was a lot going on. An enormous spread of foods - including GF & FF options.
Little Simon tasted some pickles and olives (much to his mother's chagrin - she's not a pickle fan you see...) To her delight he decided that he wasn't actually a pickle fan either.
We had a lot of fun with the extended mishpacha. I caught up with the cousins and enjoyed spending time with everybody. I played some words-with-friends with Phil, watchedn Mean'ma crochet and learned that just one checkbox is keeping me from creating VPN 'tunnel' connections and surfing the 'web' simultaneously.
A few hours later the sun was sinking in the sky. As night approached we decided to say our goodbyes and get going - since the little road we were planning on taking home has no street-lights whatsoever.
We were back in the middle of nowhere in under 25 minutes. It was crazy quick! After cropping Sara off at caravan-city we went Home.
And so ends Israel's 63rd birthday celebrations.
It was a pretty good one! Here's to another one next year!!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Chop 'em Down...

Shabbos was absolutely delightful. We had Timmy the Soldier Boy with us. The day flew by and we were sad to see it go. Motzei Shabbos turned into somewhat of an adventure and culminated in a Portal-2 victory song.I spent Sunday morning wasan early one - first I got up at 6:30 to say goodbye to Timmy then I went out and about with Sara. We went to 'town' and I finally bought envelopes to send some snail-mail letters. Leftover chicken soup for lunch was really great. Z didn't do very much school-work which means that we watched quite a bit of tv. I fell asleep at 10:30pm about 5 minutes into the season finale of 'Fringe'.This morning was a decent wake-up time. I mean, I can't really complain about getting 9 consectutive hours of sleep. I went out with Sara again. Just a quick outing to pick up some eggs and potato chips (you know, the staples.) Back at Home I was a little bit bored so I called Sara and told her to come and keep me company. She was lonely studying in her caravan so she agreed to come over.
In the meantime Z called the cousins to see if there was anything we could bring to the family bbq planned for Tuesday. Then he volunteered me to bake bread for the whole shebang. Mind you, I have no problem baking bread - and I don't mind baking lots of it - but it's kind of hard to bake enough bread for 50 people when you have a small oven that only comes with 2 trays not to mention only fits 1 tray inside at a time... Do you see where this is going?Suffice it to say - from 11:30am until 9:00pm I was baking bread. 3 batches of hamburger buns (that's 48 rolls), 3 batches of hot-dog buns (that's 47 rolls - cause 4 got absconded with), and 20 tomato basil rolls - for a grand total of 115 rolls. Will that be enough to feed 50 hungry people at a family all-you-can-eat BBQ? Honestly, I have no idea. I'm hoping it will be because I don't really want to have to bake any more for a few days.
On the bright side - it was a learning experience. I've never actually tried to shape an entire trayful of hotdog buns before. Turns out that if you are lazy and let them grow into one another they don't look nice at all. I resolved the situation with some aluminum-foil. I made myself some 'bread cradles' and managed to fit 16 rolls onto the tray. They grew beautifully and thanks to the foil they kept their shape and crusted really nicely.
As if baking that much bread wasn't a lot of work I made dinner too. We sat down to a delicious dinner of chicken piccada (made ff with barley flour) and garlic rice (or just plain rice for the fructozoid.)

During dinner we watched the Yom Haatzmaut fireworks (from the 'country club') and after dinner we watched some quick tv. Then we drove Sara back down to the campus - it was all foggy and icky out and we didn't want her to have to walk down all alone.)

Tomorrow is going to be super busy. I can't really think about it too much or my head starts to spin. I just keep hoping that there will be enough bread...

Friday, May 06, 2011

Portal Too...

I have a confession to make. These pictures are from yesterday. Don't be sad that I didn't post yesterday - I meant to but then I didn't quite get around to it. Nothing exciting happened. So you didn't miss out on anything. I made chicken soup and baked some cookies. Z went to school but since it was Thursday he came Home for lunch. I made a batch of pizza dough and turned it into 4 personal mini-pies and 2 big mushroom & onion stuffed calzones. The house smelled really good. I finally took our new little vacuum out of its box and used it! It works great and I had so much fun watching the dirt spin around in the easy-empty canister.
Friday morning dawned on the very early side - I was up at 5am. At around 9 Z left for 'town' - he went to pick up the 'salatim' and a few other random things. He was home in under an hour. At a little after 10:30 our guests and delivery arrived.
Yo'Abba and Timmy the Soldier Boy drove out to the middle of nowhere with a special delivery. A nice new rug (courtesy of S&S) for the office, and a new-again computer desk for the desktop. We switched desks because the 'new' one has shelves up on top. Now the tower and printer are up on the shelves instead of on the floor. We also hooked up our fancy-dancy speakers! It's super cool!
After setting up the desk and organizing the cords with wire-ties we sat down for a delightful bagel brunch. Bagels with cream cheese, tomatos, lettuce and onions. There was coffee too with cookies for dessert!
Eventually Yo'Abba had to head back to The Sun House but Timmy is staying over for Shabbos.
Here's a rundown of the menu -
Friday night: salatim, roasted garlic, chicken soup with matzah balls, pastel (meat pie), peas, garlic rice

Shabbos lunch: salatim, mushroom quiche, sushi, potato cheese bake, tossed salad

Seudah shlishit: sliced veggies with salatim, crackers and leftovers from lunch
Timmy helped make the pastel, the sushi rice, the quiche and then sharpened all of my knives. Z washed all of the dishes and then washed the floor and took out the garbage. In the meantime I sat back and watched them work.
All of the preparations were finished a whopping 4 hours before candle-lighting. I took a nice early shower and the guys played a computer game. I love being able to relax on Fridays.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

May the 4th Be With You...

Today was a pretty boring standard sort of day.

I woke up on the early side and was nice enough to let Z sleep for another 2 hours - well, til' 8:30 anyway...

After a session of self-torture (aren't home-waxing kits fun?) I chatted with Sarah Leah and kept her virtual company while she sat through a really boring computer class.

Breakfast was the most extraordinary part of my day. It was beyond amazing. If I'd been at a restaurant the food wouldn't have tasted 1/4 as good and would've cost some 60 shekels. I enjoyed oat-flour pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup (which I retested and found about 1-Tbsp to be tolerable if I watch my sugar-intake for the rest of the day!) My drink-of-choice was THE most incredible hot chocolate that I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. It was 100% pareve - made from homemade almond milk, cocoa powder and some powdered sugar. Absolutely amazing. (I'll admit - I had 2 servings - one was Cadbury's drinking chocolate and the other was a mix of my own.) It was thick, creamy and dreamy - and completely pareve! Best part - it didn't make me feel the slightest bit ill - which hot chocolate and coffee always do! Suffice it to say - I have found my #1 reason for making almond milk on a regular basis!

Lunch was back to basics - rice and potato chips (it's been about 2 weeks since I ate such a bad meal) - though my 'brownie for dinner' probably filled that slot a few hours later. (What was that about watching sugar intake? Riiiight... Thankfully it didn't put me over the edge because I've been really good for the last few days.)

I made a nutritious dinner for Z. He got 'pizza fish' made on tilapia. I also heated up some of the leftover potato-latkes in the oven so that they'd crisp up and he seemed to enjoy them.

I shmoozed with Freddie on the phone and later I video-chatted with Phil - which means I spoke to both my thithters today! Hooray!

It's hard to believe that today was Wednesday. Mostly because that means tomorrow is Thursday which means that I really have to decide what I'm making for Shabbos - mostly because I'm supposed to cook it tomorrow! Too much pressure! Yikes! Shabbos is insane - it's like making Thanksgiving every single week! Craaaaaziness!

Yo'Abba and Soldier Boy might be coming tomorrow and if they do I'll need to make something yummy for them too. So many things to think about.

Have I mentioned my latest obsession - stuffing vegetables? I want to put cheesy breadcrumbs into mushrooms, and spiced couscous into cherry tomatoes, and seasoned rice into big tomatoes and p'titim into 8-ball squash, and of course the standard meat stuffed peppers... I've got all these recipes bookmarked and I really want reasons to make them!

I've also been offered the opportunity to bake-cater a 'desserts' bat mitzvah at the beginning of June! I think I'm going to accept the challenge because I am a huge fan of the client and because it seems like a really fun project - though it'll be a whole lot of work! I guess work is good though - keep me busy and all. Right? Right.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"Men are not chocolate bars..."

The reward for doing something tough is almost always worth it. In this case it opens possibilities (make that probabilities) of more good things to come. I give you - almond meal. A protein packed, multi-purpose, highly functional flour - all mine as the byproduct of something delicious and relatively easy to make...This morning I milked 2 cups of almonds. Basically you soak almonds for a minimum of 8 hours (I left mine for about 24 because I got a little lazy yesterday.) After saoking, rinse and drain the nuts then pour them into a food processor along with 1 cup of fresh water. Blend until the nuts start to process then add another 3 cups of water, a splash of non-alcoholic vanilla (I used some fresh vanilla seeds scraped from the bean) and a pinch of salt. Process the mixture until it's as smooth as you can get it. (If you're a crazy person like me with a weak-ish food processor then you can now pour the mixture into a blender and blend like crazy to get the nuts as fine as possible. I did this in 2 parts because my blender is kind of small-ish.) Once everything is a 'blended' as it's going to get strain the mixture through fine-cheesecloth or a nut bag, or a paint-strainer-bag or something with a very small weave. Squeeze out all the milky-goodness and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. It will separate in the fridge so just make sure to shake/stir/mix before taking a cupful.

Don't throw out the nut-pulp - I spread mine out on a baking tray and 'dried' it out at 100C for about 2.5 hours - stirring every 20-30 minutes. After it cooled I poured it into a container and am storing it in the fridge (just in case it isn't as dried out as I thought.) It's great to use in cakes, cookies and a whole batch of other delicious baked goods.Nothing else of note really happened today. The machines outside have dug a 10 foot crater about 10 feet from the back of our building. Nobody really seems to know where the actual construction will be happening - but in the meantime they're digging holes and shlepping the dirt down the hill to dump it and make new mountains.Z and I went shopping at Yesh today - it was our chance to 'get out' and I was happy to restock on fresh vegetables (not that any of them are for me) but they did (finally) have french fries in stock again - so I bought a few kilos of them.
Yesterday I was craving something salty but we were out of potato chips and french fries. I decided to make potato-latkes after a fashion. I threw a bunch of potatoes into the food processor and pureed them. Then I stirred in some salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder (After the first batch I poured in some barley-flour just for comparison sake.) Finally I fried them up on my pancake griddle. I only poured oil into the pan once and by the end of the batch I was basically 'dry frying' - but they came out pretty well anyway. (For the record - flourless was awesome fresh but the ones with flour reheated much better.)
Aside from wearing my hair in pigtails and wandering around the house in an oversized shirt and leggings today was completely normal.
Let's hope tomorrow is just as much fun. I think I'm going to have to bake another batch of barley rolls so that I can send some to The Sun House for my fellow fructozoids.
Oh and super-exciting news - Yom Haatzmaut plans are finally 'in place' - we'll be heading out to the cousins for a delightful bbq of sorts! We haven't been there in quite a while. Looking forward!
First things first though - we're getting ready for this coming Shabbos - Soldier Boy will be joining us here in the middle of nowhere. It's going to be a whole lot of fun!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Dale & Chip

Once upon a time there was a family of monkeys. There was a Mommy Monkey, a Papa Monkey and a Little Monkey. The Mommy and Papa Monkeys loved their Little Monkey very very much.

One day Little Monkey looked a little bored and forlorn.So, Mommy and Papa Monkey decided to give him a toy to play with. It was a highly intriguing collapsible sphere of sorts made up of all sorts of colors and shapes. The Little Monkey was very excited about his new toy. He played with it and played with it but then it started to get boring to just open it and close it.
So he decided to play make-believe. He decided to fly to the moon in the collapsible sphere.
He made it to the moon and back - twice. It was all fun and games until he tried to get out. Then he realized that he was stuck. It took help from Mommy Monkey, Papa Monkey and an undisclosed amount of baby-oil to get him out - but eventually he was free.
Little Monkey had a lot of fun on the moon but he decided that he wouldn't be making the trip again (any time soon) especially in the collapsible sphere.
It's been a long day. I watched them dig another big hole right behind our house. The building keeps shaking from the excavation. I made a batch of FF potato latkes because I was craving something salty to eat. It was quite warm today. Z took the laptop down to studio so I was bored for a while, until I remembered that we have a 2nd computer and turned it on.

Frankly, the most productive thing I did today was washing and folding 1 load of laundry. (I had to do a wash because I ran out of kitchen-towels.)

I was hoping that Z's friends would come over for a game night and was very much looking forward to making chicken-wings and pretzel dogs - but they all have projects to work on so they asked for a rain-check.

Alright - enough of this. I'm going to make some rice then maybe I'll read for a while. Z won't be Home for at least another 2.5 hours...

Gosh I dislike Mondays.