Category Archives: Food For Thought

Conscious Cooking With Gratitude

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Conscious Cooking With Gratitude

There was something different about the chocolate chip dot cookies this past week.

My husband does not have much of a sweet tooth. And, in general, the girls are more enamored with candy, and ice cream than homemade treats.

But, this time, my husband ate 5 cookies! More than once he remarked how wonderful they were. Raizel is still gushing, several days later: “these cookies are soooooo good!”

It has made me think: What was different this time? Was there a special secret ingredient?

The answer that I came to was: “Yes. There was a secret ingredient.”

They were baked while making lots of blessings and focusing on everything that we have to be grateful for. The cookies became infused with our positive intentions, which then elevated them from the mundane to the sublime.

Here is what happened:

On Sunday, before we started baking, I asked my girls: “what is the first thing that we need to do before we start?” Both girls answered: “wash your hands!”

Then, after we washed our hands, I asked: “what is the second thing that we need to do?

I got a few blank stares, and so I answered: “make a blessing!”

Although I did not want to sound pedantic, we then had an impromptu lesson on “why do we need to make blessings?”

The girls and I discussed how making a blessing reminds us to be grateful to God. We are allowed to eat, but, when we make a blessing, we are saying “thank you” to Hashem (God) for giving us such delicious food, that makes us happy and keeps our bodies strong.

Then, I told the girls, “We should just list all the things that we have to be grateful for to Hashem.”

 

So, as we were making the cookies, we had what I call a “radical gratitude session.” We shared every single thing that we had to be grateful for: eyes that see, glasses to help us see, the ability to read, a computer to find our recipes, legs that walk, a mouth that talks, ears that hear, mouths that can chew……

The whole time that we were baking the cookies, we were sharing on all the numerous things that we had to be grateful for.

The outcome were the delicious cookies.

Another time, while I was cooking for Shabbat, I kept repeating the phase, “this is in the honor of the holiness of Shabbat.” (L’kavod shabbas kodesh)

That night, as we were enjoying our Shabbat meal, I asked my husband, “how did you like the food?”

My husband, not knowing my intentions while cooking that morning replied, “Everything tastes like the holiness of Shabbat.”


I couldn’t help smiling when he said that. How could he have known what I was saying the whole time I was cooking?

So, our thoughts are very powerful, even to the point that they transform our food from ordinary into other worldly.

May we all be blessed to focus on everything we have to be grateful for and transform everything we do to bring more blessings and good into the world.

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Chocolate Chip Dot Cookies & Prayer Before Taking Medicine

Chocolate Chip Dot Cookies

 

I have been very quiet lately because unfortunately, Raizel has been very sick.  I am trying to visualize the positive and praying for her to receive a complete and speedy recovery.

However, I am happy to say that today was the first day in a very long time that Raizel was actually feeling somewhat like her old self.

To celebrate, I agreed to make “Chocolate Chip Dot Cookies.” This is something that Raizel has wanted me to make for the longest time.

Since I am time challenged, I usually, prefer to make Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares. But, Raizel REALLY wanted to make “dot cookies,” so I agreed.

In exchange, Raizel agreed to let me take lots of pictures and post this recipe because, “I know that blogging makes you happy.” A sure sign that she is feeling better!

Chocolate Chip Dot Cookies 

Ingredients:

1 cup oil

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2-3 eggs (depends on if you like your cookies chewy or crisp)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups flour (spelt or wheat)

12 oz. chocolate chips

Optional: 1 cup nuts

Instructions:

By hand or with a mixer: Mix sugars, oil, and vanilla a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. . Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

With only 2 eggs, the dough will be quite stiff. We made a second batch with 3 eggs, and the dough was much easier to manage. The stiffer dough made crispier cookies. The softer dough made chewier cookies.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake in a 375°F preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.

When slightly cool, remove from cookie sheet and place on wire rack.

Food processor directions

Cream together the sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour, salt and baking soda and gently pulse until just blended. Mix in by hand the nuts and chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake in a 375°F preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.

When slightly cool, remove from cookie sheet and place on wire rack.

Tips: Initially, I made this recipe using only 2 eggs. I found the dough very stiff, and it was difficult to incorporate all of the chocolate chips. Since I had so many chocolate chips left in the bowl, Raizel, Yaffa and I made a second batch with 3 eggs. The dough was much softer and easier to manage.

I have discovered that chocolate chip cookies are a very forgiving recipe.

My husband and Raizel both declared that “these cookies are killer!” My husband actually ate 3, which is very unusual for him and a true vote of confidence.

However, Jay liked the batch with 2 eggs, which was crispier, and Raizel liked the one with 3 eggs that was chewier. So, either way, they were a hit.

I even think that they could easily be baked at 350*F and still come good.

Here are the pictures. Both girls wanted to have their pictures taken making the cookies.

First try, only using 2 eggs

blending in the flour, with a more stiff dough.


Trying to blend in all the chocolate chips.


This is the dough with 3 eggs. Much soother!


Baking in the oven.


Voila! The final outcome.

Slightly off topic, but, I wanted to share the pictures that I made of the prayer to say prior to taking medication. Unfortunately, we have been saying this prayer very often lately.

 

This is a second version of the one above:

 

This picture is a personal prayer that I wrote to reinforce my desire for any medication to be effective and helpful.

This is my personal prayer.

Enjoy the cookies and may everyone in need be blessed with a speedy and complete recovery!

Semi-Off Topic: Shared Joy – Happy Mother’s Day, Lag B’Omer & The Egg

Shared Joy: Happy Mother’s Day, Lag B’Omer & The Egg

Recently, in addition to being time challenged, I have been life challenged.

I am always dispensing advice and providing comfort to people in distress who are suffering.

Unlike many of my patients, who have mood disorders, I am not an emotionally volatile person. If I am in a bad mood, then chances are, there is a specific reason. But, I also practice rigorous self-care. All of the tools and techniques that I provide to my patients, I practice myself. Coping and maintaining a positive attitude is a daily mental discipline.

I am grateful for the disciplines that I practice. This past year has been particularly stressful, and these past few months have been even more so.

One unfortunate side effect is that I have been unable to blog recently. I find blogging creative and fun. It is so nice to finally have this opportunity to connect and share with everyone again. I have missed it!

 

There are too many wonderful celebrations today for me not to post. Today is Mother’s Day, as well as the holiday, Lag B’Omer.

Lag B’Omer is a festive day, which celebrates the passing of the great sage and mystic, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar. It also commemorates the end of a semi-mourning period. During the weeks between Passover (which just passed) and Shavuot (which will be occurring in about 2 weeks) there was a plague that occurred in which many of the students of Rabbi Akiva (teacher of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) passed away. The reason for the plague was because “the students did not act respectfully towards each other.”

On Lag B’Omer, the deaths ceased, and the period of mourning ended.

 

LOL! On Lag BaOmer, we also light bonfires.

The theme of this holiday is about loving and respecting people — even if you do not agree with them. It highlights the destructiveness of having one’s ego invested in being right, at the expense of the relationship or preserving the dignity and honor of another person.

Since the mourning practices are suspended, Lag B’Omer also happens to be a very popular day to get married.  Unbelievably, today would have been my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

Today is Mother’s Day too. As I have shared in the past, my mother has always been very ambivalent about Mother’s Day.

This year, my mother called to thank us for the flowers we sent her. My mother yet again confirmed her ambivalence for what she calls a “Hallmark Holiday.” My mother said, “Everyday should be Mother’s Day. We should treat our loved ones nicely all of the time.”

I thought her comments dovetailed nicely with the theme of Lag B’Omer.

 

Yaffa is a happy camper. The words mean “like 1 person with 1 heart.” Meaning, we are all united and share each other’s joys and sorrows.

 

In keeping with her iconoclastic ideas, my mother has also informed me that she no longer wants to receive flowers for Mother’s Day. Instead, she is requesting that the money spent on flowers should be donated to a charity of our choice. What a nice idea!  I just had to share it with everyone!

Yaffa ate a hard-boiled egg for the first time!

However, the coup de grace for today is that Yaffa ate a hard-boiled egg for the first time. It took a lot of cajoling and effort, but she did it!  We are so proud!

So, happy Mother’s Day to everyone, Happy Lag B’Omer, and congratulations Yaffa!

It is good to be back.

2016/2017 TAG!

2016/2017 TAG!

Normally, I am too time challenged to respond to blogging awards. Fortunately, today is a national holiday, so I am home. This means, I have an opportunity to complete and respond promptly.

To all the people who have so graciously nominated me in the past, please forgive my tardiness. I am truly time challenged. I consider the very existence of this blog to be an open miracle.

Today, I was so touched to be tagged by My Lighthearted Kitchen from her blog, mylightheartedkitchen.com for the 2016/2017 Tag!

Please check out her lifestyle and cooking blog where she shares her recipes, thoughts and musings about being a vegan, life-loving human being!

Here is the link to her blog:

https://mylightheartedkitchen.com/2017/02/15/20162017-tag/

The questions, I am afraid are a little bit difficult. But, my rule is, “if I have to think too much about it, then I can’t do it.” So, I will answer the first thought that pops in my mind, and assume that it is the right answer.

The tag was created by David from The Guy Who Said Always No. I love the title of his blog. It shows a great sense of humor!

Please show your support and visit both of these wonderful blogs.

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Questions:

1. DESCRIBE YOUR 2016 IN 3 WORDS.

Time challenged, intense and full of change.

2. WRITE THE NAME OF 2 PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHARACTERIZED YOUR 2016.

There have been so many people who have been so generous and helpful this year. I could never limit it to only 2 people.

First of all, we moved. But, the neighbors from our old street were so wonderful and supportive. We miss everyone so much!

In particular, I must mention “The Mayor” of the block, whose kindness, warmth and caring are a source of inspiration. He, and his wife and children set a beautiful example for not only the block, but for anyone and everyone who has the privilege to be connected to them.

Secondly, my husband’s life was saved by 2 doctors in particular and many other people in the synagogue where we prayed. Are there ever enough words to acknowledge the miracle of a life saved?

Two more people who I feel so grateful towards are the youth group leaders at that synagogue, Marvin and Divsha. This wonderful couple were so caring and kind to both my daughters. They gave my girls a sense of place in this world that I so greatly appreciate and treasure.

All of these people and so many others have touched my heart this year. The wellspring of gratitude that I feel for all these people is ever-flowing and infinite.

3. WRITE ABOUT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE YOU’VE VISITED IN 2016 AND WHY YOU LIKED IT SO MUCH.

I know that this answer is evading the question, but, every place is beautiful.  One of my greatest pleasures was to sit on my glider and watch the sun rise in the morning. Another great joy was to sit on our front porch swing and watch the people walk by, especially when it rained.

4. WRITE THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD YOU’VE TASTED IN 2016.

Anything made by my mother and sister was completely awesome! My sister made a BBQ turkey that was truly memorable!

5. WRITE THE EVENT WHICH HAS MARKED YOU MORE OF THIS IN 2016 (EVEN GLOBAL EVENT).

On a personal level, moving was a very significant personal event. I am still adjusting and transitioning to the change.

On a national level, the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States was of great significance. It is a topic of conversation at work and throughout our society. We are all on a journey and it remains to be seen where all of this will lead.

Inspired by my patients, I pray for the success and ongoing strength of this new administration, this country and the world. May we all be blessed with peace, joy, good health and abundance.

6. WRITE THE FINEST PURCHASE YOU’VE MADE IN THIS 2016, AND IF YOU WANT, LINK A PHOTO.

 We bought a new house. That was a significant and huge undertaking! 

7. WRITE 3 GOOD INTENTIONS FOR THIS 2017. 

  • Meditate daily
  • Spend a set amount of time daily for self-care and relaxation. Blogging is included in this category
  • Pause before responding when aggravated or upset.
  • Learn how to use Facebook (OK, this was 4, but who is counting?

8. WRITE 1 PLACE YOU WANT TO VISIT IN 2017.

I love going home to Toronto and visiting with my mother and childhood friends.

9. WRITE 1 PLATE/FOOD YOU WANT TO EAT IN 2017. 

Hmmmm…. This is not so important to me. I would love to learn how to make soap (this is not edible) and make time to do more sewing.

The wonderful people I would like to tag are:  (I am afraid that I do not know how to make short links. Maybe I should make that another goal for 2017?)

Monica at One Way To Health — A budget friendly journey to a healthier and happier you.

https://onewaytohealth.com/

Ruta at Estonian Cuisine who blogs about easy and delicious Estonian food at https://estoniancuisine.com/

Elizabeth at the comfortable coop, who is so supportive and down to earth at https://thecomfortablecoop.wordpress.com/about/

Sugasuga and her blog Loaf Lusters, who writes about the adventures of a broke foodie at https://loaflusters.wordpress.com/

Kathryn at Another Foodie Blogger, who blogs on simple gourmet food at https://anotherfoodieblogger.wordpress.com/

Susie at SusieShy45 at https://susieshy45.wordpress.com/about-me/

Another blogger who writes on many of my favorite topics.

Jessica at Unmeasured Journey at https://unmeasuredjourneys.com/about-2/ Very thoughtful writing, and I love her blog name!

Bruce at sportsattitudes at https://sportsattitudes.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/at-the-center-of-it-all-america-hugs-it-out/#comment-4820  Bruce writes about sports and so much more. He is the only person who I know who can make sports sound interesting and meaningful to a non-sports person like me.

Sarah & Choppy at travelswithcoppy.com. I love her stories and her pictures! She has a wonderful sense of humor and pictures. https://travelswithchoppy.com/about/

Rules:

Thank you all for participating and reading this post! Please check out these blogs and show your support for our beautiful fellow bloggers.

May this year be a year of inspiration, creativity, and love.

Many blessings for peace,

Carol and family

 

 

 

Off Topic: Snow Falling On Roses

Off Topic: Snow Falling On Roses

This blog is my creative outlet for what is otherwise a very hectic and intense life. I consider it to be an open miracle that I am able to juggle so many responsibilities and still maintain it.

To cope with my many challenges, I have been attempting to spend 1 hour a day thanking God for every difficulty that I have, rather than complaining and feeling sorry for myself.

 

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My efforts have been bearing fruit. I find myself feeling more optimistic and better able to cope. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is really the most healing and healthy thing that one can do to cope when challenged.


As part of this effort, I try to spend time each day truly appreciating and being in the moment.

Yesterday was a wonderful opportunity to practice this habit.

It snowed throughout the day beautiful light and fluffy snowflakes.

The snow covered rose bushes in front of our house.

The snow covered rose bushes in front of our house.

 

Growing up in Canada, we really enjoyed the snow. We always appreciated the wonder and purity of snow as it falls. I love when the ice and snow freeze over the branches of the trees and they make beautiful lacy patterns on the windows. Each snowflake is so unique and beautiful!

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When I think about snowflakes, they remind me of life. I can try to reach out and touch a snowflake. But, when I do, it is lost. The snowflake melts and is gone.

The snow covered tree in front of our house.

A snow covered tree in front of our house.

My father was fond of saying, “In life, you need to stop and smell the roses.”

There are no roses blooming during the winter. However, I thought our bushes in front looked very pretty with the snow. I loved seeing how the snow gently piled up on their branches.

I think that my father would be happy to have me stop and notice the beautiful snow falling on the rosebushes, even without any roses blooming.

So, as Raizel and I were driving home at dusk, I took pictures of them and thought I would share them on the blog.

I never thought that blogging could be so much fun!

This was one of my father's favorite poets.

This was one of my father’s favorite poets.

 

 

 

Carrot Cake Chronicles

 

Carrot Cake Chronicles or Carrot Cake Redemption

I am calling this post, “Carrot Cake Chronicles” however, my husband suggested that I call this recipe “Carrot Cake Redemption.”

Since the winter holidays are here, I have been attempting to bake more. This carrot cake was my contribution to our department holiday party.

The recipe is a variation of my 1-2-3-4 Cake. The only difference is, less flour, since carrots are added for bulk, and no liquid.

I tend to do the bulk of my cooking when I wake up in the morning before going to work. Nevertheless, baking while distracted is not a good thing to do. I did that the first time I made this recipe and I unfortunately had to make this cake twice.

The first time, I accidentally added too much flour. Although I tried to rescue it by adding some orange juice and a half cup more oil, I am afraid the end result was something that resembled a quick bread rather than a cake, and a dried out one at that.

Ever tenacious, I added a wonderful orange glaze, in a second attempt to rescue my poor dried out cake.

Despite my heroic gestures, the first cake was not as successful as I would have liked. No matter how I sliced and diced it, the cake was still too dry, despite having a wonderful flavor. If anyone has any good ideas for how to rescue adding too much flour to a recipe, I would appreciate the feedback.

Once I paid more attention, the second cake came out much better. I also baked it in 2 smaller pans, and checked the temperature using my oven thermometer.

Happily, the second time around, this carrot cake was redeemed.

The lesson learned for me is: be in the moment and avoid multitasking while baking.

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One Bowl Carrot or Zucchini Cake

Ingredients 

2 cups sugar (white or brown or a combination)

1 cup oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

2 cups grated carrots (about 3-4 carrots)

Optional/Variation: 2 cups grated zucchini instead of carrots

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Optional: ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts

Optional: 1 cup raisins

Optional: 1 cup drained crushed pineapple

Optional: orange zest

Instructions:

By hand: Beat the oil, sugar, salt, eggs together. Mix the flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder together and stir into the wet ingredients. Add the carrots, nuts, and any other optional ingredients and mix until just blended. Pour into greased, sprayed or parchment lined pan.

In the food processor: Mix eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in food processor for 1 minute. Add flour and baking powder, spices and pulse until blended. Next add the grated carrots and any other optional ingredients and pulse until blended. Pour into greased, sprayed or parchment lined pan.

This can be made as two 9″ layers, one 9″x13″ rectangular cake, a Bundt pan or 24 cupcakes.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until done and when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Orange Glaze

Ingredients

1 orange, zested and juiced, this could be about ¼ cup of juice, but I didn’t measure.

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups icing sugar, more or less depending on desired thickness

Instructions

Zest and juice the orange into a bowl. Add the vanilla, and then add the icing sugar until desired consistency.

Spread over cake. This cake freezes well.

 

Here are the picture:

 

 

Grate the carrots and place in a separate bowl.

Mixing in a bowl to stir in nuts.

Mixing in a bowl to stir in nuts.

Yaffa took this picture of me all by herself!

Yaffa took this picture of me all by herself!


Cake number 1 ready to bake.

Cake number 1 ready to bake.


Cake #1


Cake # 2 — Redeemed!


Beautifully glazed -- better to look good than to taste good?

Beautifully glazed — better to look good than to taste good?

My final words of wisdom with respect to my carrot cake chronicles:

My final words of wisdom.

Enjoy!

Off Topic — Post Election Humor

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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

This post is completely off topic, and it has been sitting in my draft box for the 3 weeks. As a rule, I try never to talk about politics.

But, before the topic of the recent American election becomes completely untimely, I wanted to share some post-election humor.

Everyone where I work, staff and patients, were shocked that Donald Trump won the presidency.  It was so unexpected! I have never seen such a strong response to an election result.

I had many interesting discussions with my patients on this topic. I work in geriatrics, and the wisdom of the aged is a joy to witness.  Their responses have been fascinating!

I wondered, “How is it possible that no one predicted that this would be the outcome?”

I believe that this lack of communication is due to the decline of civility in our society. Rather than talking WITH each other, people talk AT each other. Rather than communicating, people were too busy judging. Being right became more important that being loving.

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If someone didn’t like Obama, you were branded a racist. If someone didn’t like Hillary Clinton, you were branded a sexist. If someone did like Trump, you were branded a racist too.

What this meant was that people stopped talking for fear of being branded a racist or a sexist. We were too closed minded to listen to others who had a different perspective. People became afraid to share how they were feeling and what they were thinking.

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In the end, we all suffer. We lose the sacred art of listening. Fear, judgement and intolerance leads to isolation, loneliness and disconnection. So, when all else fails, I say, “laugh!”

humor

 

On voting day, there was a huge line. The voting clerks said that this election was one of the highest turnouts ever.

This is a picture of my friend Wendy, who got this sticker after we voted. The clerks were very nice and gave me 2, one for Yaffa and the other for Raizel.

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My friend Miriam sent me this picture. Since it has a food reference, I had to share it:

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Finally, another friend, Sarah sent me this. When I read it to my husband, he laughed out loud!

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I hope everyone enjoyed my post-election humor!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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