Off Topic: Happy New Year!


I couldn’t let the New Year pass without sending good wishes to everyone.

During this time of year, many people take the time to make New Year’s resolutions. In connection to that theme, I had an amazing group this past week. I thought I would post pictures of my patients’ responses to the following group exercise.

I asked my patients to share on the question: “I want to live in a world where there is ……” 
Here is a picture of their responses:


The next question was: “to create this world, I will……”

Here is a picture of their responses:


Next week we will discuss how we can create the world that we want to live in.

This is part of an international art project sponsored by the UN. I thought this could be a nice opportunity to be a part of this international effort.

Thank you everyone for all your time and support. I never anticipated that this simple blog could be so much fun! I am learning so much.

May the coming year be filled with peace, joy, and love.

Happy New Year!

With blessings,

Carol and family


Here is the link for where I got the idea for the group:


Schwarma Spice Blend Hamburger  & The Attack By The Burger Intruder 

This title was suggested by Raizel. She has confessed to being our very own Burger Intruder. 

Recently, I have been experimenting with different spice blends. Most of my recipes are low fat, all natural and fast and easy. Therefore, I find the best way to add pizazz to a dish is by interesting and balanced seasoning. 

Last week, I thought I would try making schwarma hamburgers.


1 lbs. ground meat

1 tablespoon schwarma spice blend, approximately 

1 teaspoon meat spice blend (posted earlier on blog)

Schwarma Spice Blend

Blend together:

1 tablespoon cumin, coriander and garlic 

1/2 tablespoon paprika 

1 teaspoon turmeric, and pepper 

1/2 teaspoon cloves, cinnamon and cayenne pepper 

Store in covered jar.

Instructions for hamburgers:

Blend spices and meat together. Shape into patties.

The secret to making these burgers great is to not over crowd them in the pan.  This way they become grilled and not steamed.

 Here are the pictures:

In the pan:


Half eaten, before I could get a picture:

Caught by the Burger Intruder!


Raizel said, “It was so good and I had to get my hands on it. I don’t know why. It is so addicting?!”

It’s a funny story, so I thought I would share it on the blog.


Off topic: Merry Christmas and Gifts For The Holidays 


I was struggling to find the right picture for a Christmas greeting. This picture was actually given to me today by a patient’s daughter. I liked it so much that I asked her if she would let me post it as a greeting card. K, generously agreed. Thank you K!

As I have shared, I work in geriatric psychiatry. Everyday my patients share with me the gift of their wisdom and a beautiful depth of perspective. 

In their honor, I wanted to share my gifts to them for the holidays this year.

This year, I gave them the pictures below, laminated.


This picture was taken at sunset, which I thought was a nice metaphor for my patients.


This was based on many of the discussions we have in our group. I am often astounded by the depth and wisdom of my patients. I wish I could record them!

Happy holidays to all!



Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The Gentle Weapon: Prayers For Every Day And Not So Every Day Moments: Timeless Wisdom From The Teachings Of The Hassidic Master (1999) Jewish Lights Publishing; Woodstock Vermont.
Here is a link to the book, which I highly recommend:

Braised cabbage with caraway



By accident, this post was published last night. 

I try not to post too often, and this was in the queue for posting. 

However, there are so “accidents” in this world. So, I took it as a sign to share this recipe on the blog.

I was inspired by some of the recent posts by others on cooking cabbage. 

Sometimes it happens that we run low on food, but still haven’t gone shopping yet. 

So, I always like to have a cabbage and carrots stowed away as a backup for situations like this. They are less perishable than other vegetables and taste better than frozen.


1 cabbage, sliced

2 onions, sliced

Optional: 2 grated carrots 

1 can diced tomatoes 

1/2 – 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Salt, pepper to taste

Optional: crushed fresh garlic or garlic powder 


Sauté onions until slightly golden. Add cabbage, tomatoes and spices.

Cover and cook over a low heat. Check to make sure there is enough, but not too much water. Stir to prevent burning. Adjust seasonings.

Here are some pictures:

Slice cabbage:


Grate carrots. I have a small but VERY shape grater for small amounts.


 Sauté onions:


Add other ingredients:


Viola! Final product:

The rest of the family does not like cabbage that much. But, this was enthusiastically approved of. My husband said, “this is pretty good!”


A Prayer Before Eating

Over Thanksgiving, we went to see my mother.

As I have shared, my mother is an outstanding cook. 

A few years ago, she took a baking class with my other sister and learned how to make artesian sourdough bread. 

The place gave her a sourdough starter and she has been nurturing it ever since. A real labor of love.

The picture below is of my mother’s sour dough bread with a blessing for eating right and for the right reasons.

 Our thoughts are very powerful and set our intentions. I believe it is helpful to pray not only while cooking but before and after eating too. 

I hope that this will serve as a nice addition to the blog.



Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The Gentle Weapon: Prayers For Every Day And Not So Every Day Moments: Timeless Wisdom From The Teachings Of The Hassidic Master (1999) Jewish Lights Publishing; Woodstock Vermont 

Here is a link to the book, which I highly recommend:

Our Chanukah Miracle and How To Make Oatmeal

Our Chanukah Miracle And How To Make Oatmeal 

During the week of Chanukah, we had our own personal miracle story.

Our morning routine is that I get Yaffa dressed, make her breakfast and lunch and give her her medicine, etc. before going to work. Then, before Raizel goes to school, she puts Yaffa on the bus.

Last week, Yaffa needed oral surgery to remove 4 baby teeth which were impacted and preventing her adult teeth from growing in.

On the day of the surgery, I called the bus company and told them not to pick Yaffa up. However, the bus came anyway. 

Yaffa, who knows how to follow a routine better than anyone, put herself on the bus. 

Thank God, Raizel saw what happened and pulled Yaffa off the bus and brought her back into the house! 

Incredibly, all of this transpired without my husband even being aware of it. Not only that, but, Raizel was still able to get to her bus stop on time and make it to school. 

Raizel really saved the day! 

Miracles are what happen in our ordinary lives when we are willing to see how extraordinary the mundane really is.

After having her teeth pulled Yaffa was in so much pain that she was unable to chew and went back to eating only very soft and pureed foods.

As I have shared, Yaffa used to be on a feeding tube. The road to teaching her how to eat food by mouth and to bite, chew and swallow food has been a long and tortuous journey. 

Every food milestone that might be taken for granted with other children, was only attained after great effort — baby step by baby step. Given her history, we are very regimented in forcing Yaffa to eat foods that require chewing.

So, for a week now, Yaffa has not eaten her usual breakfast of prune juice, a banana and cereal with milk. For the first few days she would only eat apple sauce and oatmeal. She has now gone back to eating a banana. Getting her to eat dried cereal with milk again appears to be a bit of a challenge.

So, in light of our current situation, I thought I would take a moment to write about how to make oatmeal.

How To Make Oatmeal 

Believe it or not, there is an art to making the perfect bowl of oatmeal, and everyone has their preferences.

One way is to boil the water first, and then add the oatmeal, using a 2:1 ratio of water to oatmeal. Simmer over a low or medium-low heat until desired thickness. When the oats are added after the water boils, the oatmeal has a thicker texture.

The other way is to boil the oatmeal together with the water and then simmer it over a low or medium-low heat until desired thickness. This way the oatmeal is more creamy and smooth.

So, when the oats are added to the water determines the consistency of the oatmeal. The longer the oatmeal cooks, the thicker and softer it is. Naturally, each person in our house has their preferences.

Growing up, we would sometimes cook the oatmeal with milk or water and serve it with butter and brown sugar.

Now we cook it in water, and serve it with a splash of milk and maple syrup.

Sometimes, we add a pinch of salt. Cinnamon gives a touch of natural sweetness too.

Other ways of serving oatmeal include adding dried fruit, fresh fruit, sunflower seeds, nuts, or any combination of the above. My particular favorite is adding frozen cranberries and nuts.

There are also various types of oatmeal: instant, rolled and steel cut.

Interestingly, the rolled oatmeal in Canada is thicker and has more texture than the rolled oats available in the US. When we go back to Canada, we always like to stock up. 

Steel-cut oats have the most distinctive and almost nutty taste compared to other types of oatmeal. Unfortunately, they also take the longest to cook. 

When Yaffa was in the early stages of being weaned off of the feeding tube, we tried using instant oatmeal, without much success. When we were at that stage, I would make the oatmeal and then puree it with an immersion blender to make it extra smooth, which worked better.

Oatmeal can be made on top of the stove, in a crockpot, overnight in the fridge inside a jar, in the microwave and even eaten raw, with yogurt. We tend to make it on top of the stove, or in the microwave.

I also make “oatmeal rolls” and bake the oatmeal in a muffin pan.

Oatmeal “rolls”


cinnamon and salt

water to cover


Spray oil muffin pan. Add oatmeal, salt and cinnamon into each muffin cups. Pour water to top and let sit until water is absorbed.  This can also be done the night before, covered and refrigerated.

Bake at 350-375 degree oven until done.

These travel well, and can be frozen and defrosted as needed.

Here are pictures of our recent oatmeal adventures:

Stirring it in a pot on top of the stove:

The final product, with rice milk:

Here is oatmeal that I microwaved:

Here is an oatmeal roll:


Baked oatmeal can also be flat like a pancake, but I find that it falls apart too easily.

The humble oatmeal can be dressed up or dressed down in so many ways.



For me, vegetables are a work of art. I spend a lot of time and attention cooking them.

My meat and chicken recipes, however, tend to be very simple. Brisket is something that I make usually for holidays and other special occasions.

My friend Francis however, asked if I had a recipe for brisket without sugar or alcohol, so I thought I would post it here now.

For slightly different reasons, my sister and I both do not like to cook with wine. My sister, Raizel (both she and my daughter are named after the same person) says that wine has too strong a flavor, especially if something is cooked for a long time.  She only likes to add wine, if necessary, near the end of cooking.

I find that wine gives a slightly sour taste and the food doesn’t last as long.  Plus, I call the juice from cooking, “liquid gold” and I like to use it again, to give a richer flavor to other dishes. When wine is added, I find that I can’t do that.

Francis was concerned that without wine, the meat would be too tough. Although I am not a meat connoisseur, with a pressure cooker, I do not find this to be the case. My husband, who is a bona fide  carnivore also loves brisket best cooked in the pressure cooker.

Sorry, no picture is available. If and when I make it again, I will add it later.


2-3 lbs. brisket, second cut is best

2-3 onions, sliced

2-3 carrots, cut on diagonal

2 stalks of celery, sliced

2 parsnips cut on diagonal

Optional 3-4 potatoes, cut in quarters

Meat spice blend: salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, paprika and mustard if desired

salt, pepper and paprika to taste

2 bay leaves

2 cloves of garlic, crushed near the end

1 cup, or more water or broth depending on cooking method


Sprinkle spices on the meat before cooking.

Sauté onions and vegetables. Add meat, bay leaves, potatoes (if using) and liquid.

My sister recommends sautéing the onions, and placing the meat on top and reserving some of the onions for the top of the meat.

Brisket is a versatile meat, that can be cooked in the pressure cooker, crockpot, stove top or oven.  A definite time saver!

I like brisket best when cooked in the pressure cooker, and cook it for 30-35 minutes to pressure. If using the pressure cooker, unless I am in a rush, I do not add the potatoes. If I really want potatoes, I cook the meat for 25 minutes, break the pressure and then bring to pressure again for 7-10 more minutes (depends on the size of the potatoes) to complete the cooking.

Another alternative is to add potatoes, and let the meat simmer until done. If not, the potatoes become over cooked and too soft. Potatoes, however, add a richness to the broth.

Stove top: bring to a boil and then simmer until done.

Oven: bake in covered pan at 350*F for 1-11/2 hours.

Crockpot: If desired, sauté onions and other vegetables and place in crockpot. Put meat, spices inside and pour broth/water over the top.  Reserve some of the onions and place on top of meat, for added flavor.

Once cooked, adjust seasonings, usually with just salt, pepper and paprika and add fresh garlic.


Sunday’s Beans

My culinary adventures to create fast and easy vegan dishes continues.

This is something that I made on Sunday for the first time.

3 cups Lima beans

1 onion, chopped

1 pepper, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon garlic or 1 clove garlic, crushed at the end

8 cups water, or to cover, depending on cooking method

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Sauté onions, peppers and celery. Then add the spices and beans, and continue to sauté until fragrant. Add water.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done. Add garlic and adjust seasoning.

Pressure Cooker: 12 minutes to pressure and then release the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done.

Crockpot. Cook on low until done.  Less water is required.

Before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Here are the pictures:
Sauté onions, peppers and celery:

Next, add the beans and spices and sauté until fragrant:

Here is the dish after it cooked:

Just before serving, add the fresh chopped cilantro.

Voila! Everyone loved it on Sunday. 

I made it again this morning in the crockpot. Using the crockpot, I did not sauté the vegetables.



Curried Red Kidney Beans

I am trying to expand my repertoire of fast and easy vegan dishes. This is something that I tried for the first time.


3 cups kidney beans

1 onion, chopped 

1 can diced tomatoes 

1 tablespoon salt

Garam Masala spices:

2 teaspoons coriander 

2 teaspoons cumin 

1 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon paprika 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon turmeric 

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon cardamom 

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, crushed at the end

8 cups water, or to cover, depending on cooking method.


Sauté onions with spices and beans, until fragrant. Add tomatoes, with juice and water.

Stove top: bring to boil and let simmer until done.  Add crushed garlic and adjust seasoning. I might have added 1 1/2 of the amount of the spices listed.

In pressure cooker: 24 minutes to pressure and then I released the pressure quickly by running cold water over the lid when done.

This can also be made in the crockpot. Cook on low until done. In the crockpot, I think it would need less water.

Here are the pictures:

I sautéed the spices, beans and onion:

Here is the final product:


This is fast and easy, all natural and healthy. My husband said, “this is good!”

It smells great too.


Semi Off Topic– DIY Facial Scrub

Since the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would post on my latest creation: DIY Facial Scrub.

I really prefer all natural products. Since I started blogging, I have learned that there is a lot of information available on making DIY beauty supplies!

This year, I made DIY facial scrub to give as a gift to people.

I hope they will like it!

DIY Facial Scrub


1/4 cup borax.

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup white sugar. I think table salt would work too.

1/8 cup Activated charcoal powder – be careful, its messy! I used about 6-8 capsules, but less or none is also OK.

1/4 cup Bentonite clay powder.

Optional: ¼ – ½ cup of room temp coconut oil

Optional: 15-30 drops of essential oil, according to your taste


Blend dry ingredients together. 

Ideally, it is easiest to use in a jar that has a lid with holes and then sprinkle as desired on fingertips; add water to make it spreadable  and then gently apply to face and or hands.

Optional: For an added moisturizing effect, slowly add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil at a time and blend thoroughly after each addition until the ingredients are saturated and smooth enough to apply according to your preferences. 

Optional: If desired, mix in essential oils of your choice. Personally, I don’t like to use them due to allergies, but, tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties, and I love lavender!

Coconut oil may liquefy if the temperature is too warm, so store in a cool dry place, or place in refrigerator to harden.


Here are the pictures:

This is without the coconut oil:


Here is how Yaffa and I blended in the coconut oil:

Here is the final product in a small mason jar:


During the summer, I used the scrub without coconut oil.

Now that it is winter, I am making it with the coconut oil. It is great for my hands and nails, especially my cuticles!

Yaffa likes to use it on her hands and face too.

It is only slightly off topic as in theory, the ingredients are (mostly) all edible!

Try it, you might like it!