Cranberry Challah Kugelettes & True Giving

What would Walter Think? Cranberry Challah Kugelettes

 

I like to think that Walter would be flattered if he knew how much he inspired me by his off the cuff comment.

Interestingly, the other group members were also very amused by his comment. It seems as though it sparked a lot of discussion!

The group this past week was continuing to feel disappointed that there was no funding for a holiday party this year.

In order to address their disappointment, I initially suggested that we have a potluck party.  I received a lukewarm response.

So, then, we had a discussion on giving and receiving gifts. I asked them: “who do you give to?” And, “who gives to you?”

As the group members discussed the questions, they began to realize that true happiness comes from giving and sharing rather than getting or taking.

When we give to give, we feel love for others and loved by them. When we give to get, it is a recipe for resentment and disappointment.

Still, one group member asked: “But, what if you don’t have very much?”

I suggested that even if a group practices “musical giving” it creates more good will than if everyone just keeps for themselves whatever they have.

“Musical giving” is my term to describe when everyone keeps passing around even the same gift from one person to another. It is almost like the game “the wonder ball,” hence the name.

It might not make sense, but, the act of giving, even if it is not consumed and then subsequently passed onto someone else, creates a relationship and promotes spiritual growth and connection.

I am happy to say that by the end of the group, everyone agreed to have a potluck holiday party.

Hopefully, everyone will remember to bring what they committed to bring in.

 

 

Cranberry Challah Kugelettes

In the meantime, I am continuing to explore creative ways to use up leftover bread. This recipe is another adaption of my challah kugel.

At my mother’s suggestion, I decided to make them as cupcakes, so that they would be easier to handle and cook faster.

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, try substituting crushed matzah or rice instead of bread.

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

1-1 ½ cups cranberries

6 eggs

1 cup sugar: I used brown sugar only this time

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons oil

Optional: orange zest

Optional: icing sugar sprinkled on top after it’s baked.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah (or matzah or rice) into small pieces into bowl.

Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into cupcake pans lined with cupcake holders. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Serve warm or at room temperature and dust, if desired with icing (confectioners’) sugar. I did not, but I think it might be prettier with it.

This time, I put everything in the bowl and mixed the ingredients together.

Mix well.

Bake in muffin tins so they are easier to eat. No utensils required.

Fresh out of the oven.

The girls LOVED them!

Final product.

I am happy to say that it was a big hit!  Enjoy!

Now, I have to see if it meets Walter’s approval.

Related image

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Merry Christmas! 🎄

This picture was taken at the church near my sister’s house.

Today during a group with my patients, one patient, Angel, said that on Christmas, they eat a birthday cake that says, “Happy Birthday Jesus.” I thought that was such a touching gesture of faith.

For those who celebrate, enjoy your special day!

Semi-Off Topic: DIY Detox Bath Salts

DIY Detox Bath Salts

For obvious reasons, giving gifts on Christmas is not something that comes naturally to me.

Although Chanukah and Christmas both occur around the same time of year, they are each unique holidays with their own rituals, aesthetic beauty and spiritual relevance.

Growing up, we did receive and give presents during Hanukkah, but it was never in mass quantities that people seem to receive today.

Chanukkah card that I made this year with Yaffa’s art.

Consequently, this time of year is sometimes a struggle for me.

I do want to express my appreciation and gratitude to the people who help me, and create cheerfulness and comradery with the people I work with. But, I do not want to succumb to the conspicuous consumption and rampant materialism that I often see going on around me.

My solution is to create DIY gifts which are both personal and practical.

This year, I felt inspired to make DIY Detox Bath Salts.

It is surprisingly fast, easy, all natural and even relatively economical to make. The trick is to make a nice presentation to doll it up.

In the back of my mind, I wanted to give the bath salts in a urine cups and specimen bag and label this DIY Detox (not U-tox) Bath Salts. When I told the other nurses I work with about it, we all laughed.

This is the gift presentation that I did not make:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, I decided to play it safe and give the bath salts in a small mason jar with a nice label and a colorful ribbon.

Ingredients

2 parts salt: Epsom salt, Himalayan salt, Magnesium Chloride, Dead Sea Salt

½ part baking soda

Optional: ¼ part bentonite clay

Optional: ¼ – ½ part finely ground oatmeal.

Note: I would categorize the bentonite clay and oatmeal with the baking soda. Otherwise, it might not dissolve as well.

Optional: 20-30 drops essential oils of your choice.  I used lavender, which is my favorite!

Optional: food or soap coloring. I did not use any coloring.

Optional: Cinnamon, ginger or tumeric could also be used to give it some colour and additional therapeutic properties, but, I am not sure if they would dissolve properly. Then, you might have to wash out the tub, which is something that I do not find relaxing.

Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix to combine the salts and baking soda. Add essential oils and stir until well-blended.

The appearance of the Bath Salts can be changed by adding a few drops of food coloring to the salt mixture until you reach the desired shade you would like.

If anyone would like to make their own natural food dyes, here is a great link.

This recipe can be easily scaled up, which I did to make lots of gifts for everyone.

It is not very colourful, but here is the picture of the bath salts in the large jar I used to mix up everything in.

Without dye, the only colour came from the Himalayan salt.

I also added Silica Gel Packs to prevent the salts from sticking together. It really helped!

Here are the various ways I tried to present the gifts so that they seemed festive and personalized:

Overall, the gifts were very well received. Even the men I work with wanted some despite the fact that it smelled like lavender.  Next time, to make it more unisex, I might use patchouli oil.

I got very creative and below are various samples of labels one can use:

 

 

 

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Chocolate Challah Kugel

I’m back!

The picture of the adorable cat above, is the latest addition to our family.

At the end of this post, I will share more about him.

Stay tuned!

I have missed blogging, but, for some reason, I uncharacteristically found myself with nothing to say for the past year.

I hope that I have found my voice again, and this is a new beginning!

Part of my inspiration to renew this blog was an off the cuff comment by one of my patients.

During one of my groups at work this week, “Walter,” said, “Carol doesn’t look like someone who likes to cook.”

At first, I thought his comment was completely off base, and I felt slightly offended. To me, he was making an unsubstantiated assumption.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me: perhaps “Walter” was really trying to communicate something else?

Is it possible that “Walter” was really expressing his disappointment that this year there is no funding available to have a holiday party?

Maybe what he really wanted to say was: “does Carol care enough about us that she would make us a party and do all the cooking?”

I am still thinking about the incident, as you can tell.

The upside of his comment is that it reminded me how much I really do miss blogging.

And just in case his comment could really be taken at face value, I was motivated to actually sit down and write a new post on my sorely neglected blog.

My motives might be a little immature, but, I really do have so many recipes to share on juggling special diets, special needs and time challenges!

Chocolate Challah Kugel 

This recipe is really a recent adaption of my challah kugel. I am trying to come up with creative ways to use up leftover bread.

I am happy to say that it was a big hit!

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

1 ½ cups milk (I used rice milk)

1/2 cup cocoa

6 eggs

1 cup sugar: ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup white

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons oil

Optional: icing sugar sprinkled on top after it’s baked.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl.

Add chocolate chips.

Combine water, milk, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, salt and oil and whisk until smooth and well-blended.

The sugars can be added to the bread and chocolate chips, or to the liquids. This time, I did both. The white sugar I added to the bread, and the brown sugar was added to the liquids. I think it might be better to add the sugar to the liquids so it can dissolve more easily and be more evenly distributed. This recipe is very flexible!

Pour liquid over challah and chocolate chips.

Mix until challah is soft.

Pour into a parchment lined pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Serve warm or at room temperature and dust, if desired with icing (confectioners’) sugar. I did not, but I think it might be prettier with it.

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, I wonder if this would be good with crushed matzah instead of bread?

Alternatively it might even be made with rice too. Depending on the desired texture, it might be better to lightly blend the rice mixture with an immersion blender before adding the chocolate chips. The goal is to have the mixture slightly smooth but not mushy.

Now that I see how adaptable this recipe can be, I am hoping to explore other variations too.

Here are the pictures:

Bread, chocolate chips and white sugar.

Whisking the sugar, cocoa, eggs, liquid and vanilla

mixing wet and dry ingredients.

The last few pieces. I forgot to take a picture when it was first done.

Enjoy!

As promised, here is the story of our new cat.

Last spring we acquired an outdoor cat, Ari.

I love cats, but, my husband, unfortunately is very allergic to them. So, when we met, I sadly had to give my 2 cats away.

Over the years, I would frequently remind Jay of the tremendous sacrifice I made to marry him. My husband would always joke, “What’s better, having a husband or 2 cats?” He would then add: “Don’t answer that!”

When we first married, I used to be able to find a local stray cat to befriend and share a “Positive Cat Experience.” Over the years, however, that changed. It seems as though there were no longer any stray cats around.

So, as an act of true love, Jay suggested that perhaps I could have a cat again, with the stipulation that the cat was not allowed to come in the house.

It was a tall order, but, with the help of Google, I discovered that there is a local program by the SPCA called “Back Yard Buddies.”

Cats adopted through this program are feral cats that have been spayed/neutered, given their shots, and microchipped. They are not supposed to be indoor cats, and the SPCA gives you all the equipment one needs to train the cat that you will be his/her new feeding source.

It seemed like a win-win for everyone!

My brother was very skeptical when he heard about it. Dov said, “It sounds like taking on a charity project.” I suppose on one level it is.  But, the cat we received is the friendliest feral cat one could ever hope for.

Naturally, life is never how one expects.

Although I am the one who takes care of Ari, ironically, my husband is his chosen person. Ari greets my husband, spontaneously hops up on his lap, and otherwise in general seeks him out.

It is truly very funny.

One of my friends suggested that I sue for alienation of affection, or get another cat who will be MY cat. So far, my husband has vetoed that option.

I am truly enjoying this cat. It is so nice to have a Positive Cat Experience on a daily basis. I just had to share!