Monthly Archives: May 2016

One Door Closes & Another One Opens

We are entering a new stage. I am up to my eyeballs in moving boxes. 

My cooking is challenged by more than just time. 

So, please excuse the lack of postings over the next few weeks or so.

But, I wanted to share my news that we officially bought our new home this week.

Moving threatens the comfort of the familiar and brings about so much upheaval. And, I believe that it is so important to have a sense of place in this world.  So now, my comfort and sense of familiarity is being uprooted and will need to be transplanted. 

I am not sure if I realized the magnitude of this change.

Nevertheless, I believe that this is going to be for our ultimate best. 

Yesterday, also happened to be the holiday of Lag B’Omer. 

On this day, people light bon fires and the restrictions on marriage ceremonies, celebrations in general and listening to music are lifted.

So, now that we can listen to music again, I thought I would share this song. 

The song, Butterscotch Castle by The Captain and Tennille is one of my favorite songs about having a home and a sense of place in this world.

I also like it because there are a few food references, which makes this post only semi-off topic.

  

There is a certain sweetness to the lyrics, so I thought I would include them here too:

🎶hurry on down to our butterscotch castle🎶

🎶we want to show you the place where it all began🎶

🎶there’s a big old dog in the front yard🎶

🎶and an old grey cat on the back porch🎶

🎶and in between the walls there are peace and harmony🎶

🎶come on along to our butterscotch castle🎶

🎶we want to show you the place where it all began🎶

🎶there’s a morning sun in the kitchen🎶

🎶and there’s always a bird when you listen🎶

🎶and underneath the roof there are joy and love to share🎶

🎶oh, everybody needs a home

🎶where all the vibrations are flowing in a positive way

🎶what a great day, the day we discovered the castle

🎶sittin’ on it’s own little hill and it seemed to say,

🎶”So, You finally found the way!”🎶

🎶livin’ is sweeter than butterscotch pudding

with honey bright days and beautiful licorice nights🎶

🎶and i know that we’ll always live here

even if we leave it behind🎶

🎶memories of lovin’ and laughter will shine in our minds🎶

🎶oh, everybody needs a home

🎶where all the vibrations are flowing in a positive way🎶

🎶what a great day, the day we discovered the castle🎶

🎶sittin’ on it’s own little hill and it seemed to say,🎶

🎶”So, You finally found the way!”

🎶livin’ is sweeter than butterscotch pudding🎶

🎶with honey bright days and beautiful licorice nights🎶

🎶and i know that we’ll always live here🎶

even if we leave it behind🎶

🎶memories of lovin’ and laughter will shine in our minds🎶

Lag B’Omer is also my parents’ anniversary. Although my father is no longer in this world, I always wish my mother a happy anniversary on this day. 

Happy Aniversary Mom!

So, the journey continues…..

One nice thing (there are many) about the new house is that the previous owners planted rose bushes in the frontyard:

And mint in the backyard:

And, there is even a black and white cat in the neighborhood!

I may have shared that we have a very nice cat that belongs to our neighbor where we live right now. 

The girls love this cat! The cat seems to have bonded with them too. She treats my front porch like it is her living room.

I feel that it is such a gift to know that there will be new and hopefully equally wonderful cats in the new house!

Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

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Packing Up My Kitchen — The Move Has Begun

Blessing For The Home

This post may be slightly off topic.

But, my cooking activities may be curtailed for the next little while. We are moving soon to a new home. Today, we officially sold our house.

This past Sunday was our first day of intense packing and tossing. 

Something that is as objectively unpleasant as moving has been a real opportunity to witness miracles unfolding and divine providence.


I truly feel that we have been divinely provided for in what could be a very unpleasant experience.

I am awestruck by the assistance and support that we have received from others.

Our family, friends and neighbors have been AWESOME!

My husband cannot do any heavy lifting. Although he was reluctant at first, he finally consented to allow people to help. His stipulation was that there could only be 2 helpers at a time.

Jay was concerned that it would be too overwhelming for him if there too many people needing direction at one time.

Originally, my neighbor and I had arranged for 2 high school boys to help with the really heavy lifting. And, my sister-in-law, Auntie Elle graciously offered to help too.

Unexpectedly, my friend Lee came over and offered to help for an hour.  

She was so kind. She actually thanked ME for giving her the opportunity to get out of her house and have some adult conversation.

Then, unexpectedly, my friend Cindy just “happened” to show up with her husband.  

Before I knew it, we were able to finish packing up all the Passover dishes! 

The miracle was, people came out of the woodwork and just showed up to help! I had no idea that they were going to be coming over.

At the end of the day, as Jay and I basked in the glow of a job well done, we laughed. 

Jay was able to recognize that we all got what we wanted. Although we had lots of help, we only had 2 helpers at a time. 

We got the all the help that we needed, and at the same time, Jay did not become overwhelmed.

How funny is that?
 

Now, the attic and the basement have been sorted through. So we are on our way.

The next big challenge will be to pack up the regular kitchen!

Here are my pictures of the progress we made:

The end of one set of cupboards in sight!

The pile is getting smaller!

 

I feel like singing a little jig:🎶🎶 Hi Ho, Hi Ho, off to packing we go…..🎶🎶

Stay turned!

Baked Mashed Potatoes 

This is a variation of the mashed potato kugel that I posted earlier. I realize that I may be repeating myself with this post, but, it was such a hit that I wanted to share it with everyone.

Over Passover, I had alot of leftover potatoes. So, I decided to mash them with sautéed onions and then bake them in the oven. 

This is a great way to use up leftovers and no eggs!

The recipe is very flexible and depends on the amount of potatoes that you have available.

Ingredients 

Potatoes 

Onions, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste.

Paprika 

Oil

Water as needed to desired consistency 

Instructions 

Boil potatoes. I cooked them in the pressure cooker, 7 minutes to pressure, using quick release method.

Sauté onions in oil until nicely browned. Add potatoes and water to the pan. Mash the potatoes and onions together with enough water to reach the desired texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place mashed potato mixture into a pan. Lightly oil the top, so that the mixture will brown when baked. Sprinkle paprika on top.

Bake in 350* oven until done.

Here are the potatoes in the pressure cooker:

potatoes in pressure cooker


saute onions until browned

mash the potatoes &sauted onions

the final product — yum!


This was such a hit that I could barely take a picture of it after Shabbat. A ringing endorsement.

Enjoy!

Bone Lickin’ Chicken

This is one of my husband’s favorite chicken recipes. I make it almost every week as my husband never seems to tire of it. 

Lately, I have been making it with orange marmalade jam. But,  almost any type of jam will work. 

According to Jay, the more bitter and coarse cut the marmalade, the better. He has elevated this to a work of art.

However, when Raizel was on the Feingold Diet, I used to use mango or fig jam instead and it was good too. 

Ingredients:

1 chicken, cut up

Mom’s Chicken Spice Rub

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, ginger, mustard powder

Bone Lickin’ Chicken Sauce 

1 cup jam

1/4 cup vinegar, can be any type but I used balsamic vinegar this time

Optional: 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Optional: ginger or mustard to taste

Instructions 

For the sauce: mix all the ingredients together. This is sort of a trial and error recipe. I put the jam in a bowl and add enough vinegar to get the right consistency. Then I check the sweetness to see if it needs to be sweeter. If it is sour enough but still too thick, fruit juice can also be used. But I have rarely done that. 

After I balance the sweet with the sour, I add salt, pepper and garlic to taste. For extra pungency, fresh ginger is also good or even a dab of mustard. 

Place chicken in a large pan. Season chicken with Mom’s Spice Rub and cover chicken with sauce. If possible, let marinate prior to cooking.

Preheat oven to 425*F.

Roast in oven for 1.5 hours, or until cooked, turning over for last 30 minutes.

I do not broil the chicken to brown it, as then the sauce burns off and the flavor is lost.

This could also be made in the crockpot or the pressure cooker, but the texture will be different.

Crockpot:

Skin chicken and place in crockpot. Season and pour sauce over chicken. Add 1/2 cup liquid –either water, broth or wine. Cook on low.

Pressure cooker:

Follow directions for the crockpot and cook 7 minutes to pressure, using quick release method.

OR: Season chicken and brown in pressure cooker. Add sauce and liquid and cook for 7 minutes to pressure, using quick release method.

This also can be made on top of the stove. 

This is a big favorite, but I am afraid that I only have 2 pictures:

 

spiced and in the pan


Since I am time challenged, I only took a picture of the final product:

The final product, just out of the oven



  

My husband said that “this is awesome!”

 
Raizel and my husband finished it by the end of Shabbat, so it was a good thing that I took a picture right away!

Enjoy!

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

Raizel’s flowers


I am working today and I am writing this during my break on the inpatient unit.

My mother is a woman who marches to her own beat. 

Growing up, she did not really believe in Mother’s Day. My mother used to always say, “every day is Mother’s Day!”

Working in mental health,  I can safely say that mothering is a sensitive area for many people and emotionally complex.

For me, mothering is about nurturing, comforting and caring for other living beings. Every one is a mother, with or without biological children.

Wishing everyone a beautiful, caring and nurturing day!

Love In The Parsnip Patch

My husband is a confirmed carnivore. Normally, he eats vegetables because he has to, not because he wants to.

So, this evening, he surprised me. 

When I came home he said,”you won’t believe what I saw today. I found 2 romantic parsnips!”

Jay ruefully exclaimed, “I can’t believe what an influence you have. I am starting to actually notice vegetables!”

It was so funny, I had to take a picture of them:

I think it’s cute that when he saw 2 parsnips hugging each other, that he thought of me. 

I think perhaps he is the romantic one, not the parsnips.

Enjoy!

Passover Mandelbread  or Drop Cookies With Chocolate Chips

Although Passover is over, I still want to share some of the recipes that I made over the holiday. This way, I can keep track for next year.

This year, for the very first time, I experimented with making kosher for Passover mandelbread with chocolate chips. I also used the dough to make drop cookies as well. 

Mandelbread is a very traditional Jewish cookie similar to biscotti that I make during the year.

As I have shared, one of the culinary challenges of Passover is baking desserts without sacrificing taste and texture.

I usually try to stick to recipes that are specifically designed to be kosher for Passover. Especially when baking, I find that it is difficult to adapt recipes to be suitable for the holiday.

For many reasons, I also avoid cooking and baking with matzah meal. I find that matzah meal makes the texture dry and tastes unpleasant. 

So, I wanted to make mandelbread which is non-gebrokts (without matzah meal) and also gluten free. However, I couldn’t find a recipe to accommodate my specifications.

So, I broke some of my personal baking rules. I took my regular mandelbread recipe and adapted it for Passover. 

Instead of regular flour, I used almond flour and tapioca starch. I was not planning on initially adding the tapioca starch. But, the dough was too sticky and did not hold its shape without it.

Below is the recipe of how I made the cookies this year, together with my recommendations for how to improve the recipe for next year.

Ingredients 

1 orange

2 eggs

3/4 cups sugar

Recommendation: Can also make with only 1/2 cup sugar. 

1/2 cup oil

Next time, I might use 1/4 cup of oil as nuts have a higher fat content.

4 cups almond flour 

1/2 – 1 cup  tapioca starch (approximately to make the dough less sticky and able to be shaped)

With less oil, tapioca starch may not be necessary.

2 teaspoons baking power

1 cup chopped nuts (approximately, to make the dough less sticky and able to be shaped)

9 oz. chocolate chips

Instructions 

Using a food processor, pulse the whole orange until finely chopped. 

Add the sugar, eggs and oil and mix until smooth. 

Then add almond flour and baking powder and pulse until blended.

I found that the dough was too sticky, so I added the tapioca starch and chopped almonds.

Stir in 9 oz. of chocolate chips.

Bake in 350*F oven until lightly browned and firm to touch. 

Raizel loves “dot” cookies, which I rarely make. 

So, most of the batter was made as drop cookies. 

A much smaller amount was baked in a log like mandelbread. 

When cooked, I sliced the dough and baked them again in a 250*F oven until toasted.

Here are the pictures:

The cookie dough when fully mixed

Dough shaped as drop cookies

Drop cookies final product

The final product baked like mandelbread/biscotti

It actually turned out to be less time consuming to make drop cookies instead of mandelbread. And, I think the texture was better too.

It may be that with almond flour, the dough is less resilient? I also think that the texture might be better if the dough is chilled prior to baking.

Overall, the cookies were a hit. Raizel declared, “this is killer!” 

And, they are even being eaten after Passover!

Enjoy!