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7 Quick Takes, NOT on a Friday (CW39ish)

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— 1 —

Shana Tova, my dear readers! It is finally 5775! As you all know, I am not keeping kosher, but I made a resolution to avoid (knowingly) eating pork and non-kosher seafood for 5774. It was a long, long year. Quite literally: this was one of the longest a Jewish calendar year could be, with a leap month. In the beginning it was difficult, but got easier as the year progressed. A reliable supply of turkey bacon and coconut oil made things a lot easier.

— 2 —

Rosh Hashanah is often called the Jewish new year. I have explained two year ago that we have three other new year celebrations as well. Rosh Hashanah marks the “anniversary” of Adam’s creation. Please don’t take that very seriously from my mouth: I’m an evolutionist, and I firmly believe that if G-d exists and He chose to reveal how the world was created to someone in our time rather than to some semi-nomadic Bronze age shepherds, we’d get a very different impression of creation than the two differing accounts in Genesis.

Now back to Rosh Hashanah. In our congregation the new lay leadership takes over on the first morning of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the holiday that is two days long both in the Diaspora and in Israel, and there was alsways doubt when the new year, with the new leadership begins. It doesn’t help that Jewish days overlap for about an hour, thus the years as well. I was part of the leadership in 5773 and 5774, but I didn’t “run” for a position in 5775, because of a conflict of interest: Kevin is now hired by the lay leadership of our congregation. I was quite surprised that I was still nominated… to the women’s committe. Talk about gender equality! 馃檪 I didn’t get the position, but I am volunteering to assist the lady who was actually elected. I worked with her the past two years as she was in charge of our internal audits.

— 3 —

I just signed up for Kindle Unlimited聽because they offer a 30 day trial, and unlimited access to over 700,000 Kindle books for $9.99 per month. and I can read these books on my Kindle, my iPad, iPod, Android Phone, and my laptop. The free app is available here (and if you sign up for it, I get a bounty): Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices聽but even if I didn’t, I’d highly recommend it. While my preferred way to read e-books is still my Kindle Paperwhite (available for $119) I love that my various devices synchronise where I am in a book, and I can easily switch between them with the app.

In the past 24 hours since signing up I found several books to use for homeschool, and yeah, not having access to a huge English language library, this is just plain awesome for us. If I read one book per month, then I’m already doing great for my money.

— 4 —

Back to Rosh Hashanah. Kevin’s brother’s family came to TA from Jerusalem for the long holiday weekend. It is always nice to see them. Adding their four kids to our crowd means no extra work, and our kids love each other. Having them over involved special holiday activities, like explaining fractions to our niece, and then today reinforcing the same lesson using oranges and apples. Then we ate all the oranges and apples. Isn’t homeschool awesome?

While my BaIL (brother-almost-in-law) was here, the details about the visit of two of their siblings over winter-no-not-Christmas-we-are-very-PC-but-it-happens-to-be-between-Christmas-and-New-Year’s vacation. We are excited, as they will arrive with their spouses and combined 5 kids on December 21, and leave only on December 28. This year Chanukah ends on December 24, so they will be here for the second half of our kids’ Chanukah break. They will split time between TA and Jerusalem, with a big Christmas celebration in Jerusalem. We were invited for that, but we politely declined, and I think all sides feel some relief about that!

— 5 —

I’m absolutely amazed by the versatility of my slow cooker.

I love dried vegetable mixes, but I don’t like the amount of salt that the commercially sold ones generally have. Some of those seem to have more salt than the Dead Sea! A friend shared how she makes her own mixes, using her oven. Now oven drying vegetables would be too hot here now, so she suggested I try my slow cooker… and it worked! It might not be as brightly coloured as the stuff聽bought at the store, but they taste really good and they rehydrate well. I use the ground one in my home made ramen, or when I cook pasta, for some additional flavour.

2014-09-27 18.54.16 HDR

— 6 —

On the crunchy parent theme: after trying everything I could to get rid of dandruff, Jill gave me the solution: weekly or biweekly coconut oil treatment. It seriously works. I love it. Of course it comes back, so I have to do it again, but I am currently very excited to have my scalp under control. Plus my kids’ hair loves coconut oil. Another trick for awesome hair, from a less crunchy source, is drinking diet meal replacement shakes for a snack/making popsicles from them. The one we prefer is loaded with vitamins and minerals and it works wonders on our skin, hair and nails. Also the one we prefer is not sold through an MLM and costs about $10 for a box of twenty meal replacement shakes, that we stretch into 40 snacks.

— 7 —

I can’t believe it’s Saturday evening and I have no idea what to write for #7. So… Music video time!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

How to Spend Shelter Time Well

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After being woken up by Code Red alarms at night, the next one came during my lunch time. We were ordered to stay in the shelters for an undetermined period, and because I had a late lunch break to start with and I was hungry, this is what happened:

2014-08-20 12.14.47a slice of pizza, a cup of apple juice, and a good book. I had just bought Steiner Krist贸f’s book on iTunes ten minutes before the alarm, so I spent the next 30 minutes starting to read it. I had bought his first book when it came out, and I loved it. Unfortunately the other day I left it at Cofix (the place with the NIS 5 coffee and sandwiches–that’s like $1.45 for US folks) and when my sister called they said they couldn’t find it. Luckily, Kevin is in Budapest, and he found the book sold by one online shop. He ordered it, and he was told that it would be there by Thursday. Then an hour later he got a call that they were out of it, and the book is out of print, and sorry. 馃檨 Kevin had bought the two other books as well, but he told me, “Go ahead, buy them in e-book, because it will be a while before the kids are finished with them.” So I bought the only one I haven’t read, and now I’m spending my shelter time becoming a reader again.

7 Quick Takes — 33 — Adoption, TBBT, Food

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— 1 —

In my post about Autism and I, I mentioned that I was a difficult person. Jon commented that he didn’t think I was difficult, and that reminded me of something that happened before the madness in Israel began.

Kevin and I were trying to catch up on The Big Bang Theory. I hate to admit, but I’m a season and half behind. 馃檨 We were a few episodes into our marathon, when I remarked how much I loved Leonard, who is my favourite TBBT character. Kevin replied, “I’m glad, because I am Leonard to your Sheldon.” It made me laugh, because it’s very true. While I’d like to think I’m not as difficult as Sheldon, it is true that I can be difficult to live with.

— 2 —

8d132aab-154d-4016-b183-1a7b9d4c373c_profileYou know adoption is close to my heart. I follow the adventures of other adoptive families, and the Rieben family is currently in the process of bringing three older boys (ages 5, 12 and 12) home from Bulgaria. Adopting not one, but three kids at the same time is costly, and they have started a new fundraiser to help with those costs. The dad is currently in country for the first trip, which means their boys would likely be home in 4 to 6 months!

I already participated in their fun fundraiser, and so have my two internationall adopted 5-year-olds. Join us to help the boys get home! It’s easy, and while the Riebens have an FSP, there is a way to contribute without the involvement of any grant organizations. Click here to find out more!

— 3 —

That, in turn, reminds me of another recent conversation, this time with Jill. I’m sure every adoptive parent has seen at least one post online what not to ask/tell adoptive parents. On top of the list is never to ask them how much their kids cost. While it’s not the most appropriate question, it usually doesn’t upset me. I either give a detailed list of costs from adoption fees to tuition, lunch money, swimming lessons etc, or let my internationally adopted daughter answer. Her standard answer? “I was free, but the process cost $37 000.”

— 4 —

For some odd reason this week I have been talking about how to prepare food more than I normally would. From chicken steak to challah pudding to tahini based desserts I have been discussing recipes and how to’s. I even joked about writing a cookbook, with vague measurements. But then I already have writing projects that are taking forever to finish, plus most of my food doesn’t photograph well (though tastes really good).

So what are your favourite dishes to fix? I am actually looking for a favourite spice mix for roast beef that you put together, and doesn’t involve canned or powdered soups. I am willing to share how I make steaks/chicken steak that is better than what I get at some of the nice restaurants here. I’m not even kidding. Also, yam/sweet potato recipes are welcome. I hate the stuff most of the time, but I’m willing to give it a try, because my family like it. Are they the same thing, anyway?

— 5 —

We had a 72 hour ceasefire that Hamas broke after 70 hours. They broke another one before that. Currently we should have one, but there have been rockets.

Seriously, when will this finally end?

Click to view it full size.

— 6 —

I liked his dramatic roles better than most of his comedic ones. Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam are three of the limited number of movies I actually own on DVD. One of the three Disney movies we have is Aladdin. And before Harel Skaat, Robin Williams was, and forever is, Peter Pan.

Since his passing I’ve heard and read several stories from friends meeting him. In all of these stories the common thread was his kindness and humanity.

Now I wonder, as tragic as his death is, will it further his legacy? I feel like many people who don’t understand depression suddenly realize that if the funniest man on earth could be depressed, maybe it’s more than just attitude, more than just trusting G-d.

And now, the Westboro Baptist Church sealed it: Robin Williams was a great man, a man worthy to be seen as the enemy of those whose whole world, belief and life is built on hate.

Rest in peace, Mr. Robin Williams.

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom! This is my last Shabbat before my kids and Kevin come home! I really miss them all. Life can be too quiet even if it means lack of sleep for the rest of the year! In September I’ll have another long weekend, and we are planning a quick trip to the Dead Sea during those three days. I can’t wait to be all muddy!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

When Something Goes Right: Chocolate Sauce

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As I mentioned before, we love ice cream, and we love home made fancy coffee. We use chocolate sauce for both of them, and then for a gazillion other things, including eating it by the teaspoonful. Rarely we even make chocolate milk with it. Of course the sheer number of us makes it un-economical to buy chocolate sauce as often as we’d like to. With the cheaper ones costing around/over NIS 15 when I can find them, we needed cheaper alternatives… and ones that were less sweet.

To satisfy the demand for chocolate sauce, I decided to make mine at home. It was very easy, and it tasted just like chocolate sauce. One word of warning: since the recipe contains no preservatives, it won’t keep very long even in the fridge. Of course, it never lasts long enough in our house to spoil.

Chocolate sauce

Ingredients:聽

1 cup black, unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract (or mint extract for mint chocolate sauce) (optional)

Instructions:

In large (at least 2 l) sauce pan combine ingredients, and with constant whisking cook on low heat till it starts to thicken. When reaching the thickness desired, let it cool, and store in a bottle in the fridge.

If using聽pure black cocoa powder and pure vanilla extract, this recipe is gluten free. Please check labels for possible cross-contamination information or additional ingredients added to the cocoa powder or the vanilla.

If using black cocoa powder and kosher vanilla extract, this recipe is kosher (pareve).

When I mean constant whisking… I mean constant whisking. I turned around to shoo the cat off the counter, and I ended up scrubbing the stove top for the next fifteen minutes… and almost half of our chocolate sauce was gone!

While sitting in the fridge it gets a little thicker. We prefer to use disposable聽drinking cap water bottles to store it, because that way we can reuse the bottles, they have a pretty wide opening, and when only a little is left that we can’t get out of the bottle, we can just add milk and use it for chocolate milk.

2014-06-17 11.27.56

When Something Goes Right: Hard Chocolate Shell for Ice Cream

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The hot season is pretty long here. Ice cream season is even longer. My whole family love ice cream, and we also share our love for the chocolate shells for ice cream. Of course, at $5 for a small bottle, we can rarely afford to buy it for all of us. So here came the brilliant idea of making our own. After some experiments with Pinterest, we adjusted the recipes to work for us.

 

There are two ways to do it. One is using chocolate flavoured icing bars (csokol谩d茅s bevon贸massza), or cheap, vegetable oil based “chocolate” chips, and simply melting them in the microwave and pouring it over the ice cream. Luckily many of us have no access to the horror that is bevon贸massza, so we have to go the other way and use real chocolate.

The recipe we use is simple: break up a bar of real chocolate and put it in a microwave safe bowl. You can also use real chocolate chips. For every 3.5 oz we add one to two heaping teaspoonfuls of solid coconut oil. I usually go with one, but my daughter swears by two. Definitely NOT three tablespoons. Too much cocnut oil will make it taste like using cheap icing bars.

Put the chocolate and the coconut oil in the microwave, and warm it for 45 second, then stir. Repeat till the chocolate is all melted after stirring, and mixes well with the coconut oil. It can immediatelly be poured over the ice cream, where it forms a hard shell within seconds. A larger batch can be created and stored in a jar in the fridge. It can be reheated again and again till it's all gone.

 

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