Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Photo Friday - Lemon Mousse

Lemon is a big flavor in our house. Often senses are tied into memories, and I have a feeling that Avram loves the taste of lemon because it reminds him of his grandmother and how she lovingly made lemon mousse (by hand) for his bar mitzvah. I love lemon too, so it's a good thing all around (and I'm kind of glad to have a mixer... ) :)

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup parve milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup parve whipping cream, whipped
lime slices or other garnish (optional)

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and parve milk; stir into sugar mixture. Add juices; whisk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Cover surface with plastic wrap; refrigerate until completely cooled. Fold in parve whipped cream. Spoon into individual dishes. Garnish with lime slices or other garnish as desired.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Would YOU Do?

This post got me thinking.....
The Rebbetzin's Husband posted about the challenges of parenting children among the dangers of today's independent communication.
It got me wondering about our responsibilities as "a village" to help deal with today's challenges.

(Don't try to figure out the origin of these stories please. They may or may not be personal anecdotes.)

1. Your child informs you that his friend brings his iPod, which he received as a Bar Mitzvah present, to school each day. He is receiving content from other children that is not consistent with the values in his home. His parents are obviously clueless. If it was your child, you would want to be informed. Yet, calling a parent to advise them of this could easily be interpreted as meddling.


2. Your child mentions in passing that a particular guest is coming to their home for Shabbos. "Good luck!", his young friend retorts. "She's weird." He then proceeds to offer up scandalous gossip about this upcoming guest - information not even fitting for a child of such a young age to be aware of. One wonders if the parents of said child might want to be reminded that their child is listening in on what are hopefully private conversations between adults in the home and then repeating them. Such a conversation could be uncomfortable.


P.S. For those of you who are interested, fascinating comments continue to come in on my Adaptive Obsolescence post. If it is of interest to you, go check them out......

Monday, April 26, 2010

Your Two Cents...

Lion of Zion has an interesting question posted on his blog today. It is one that I have struggled with myself and I thought I'd put it to my readers as well.

He laments the exorbitant admission prices lately at New York museums and attractions. He notes that some of these exhibits offer a "suggested donation" option.

LOZ asks, "What do you do when museums request a "suggested donation" of x dollars? Do you pay it in its entirety? Do you pay nothing? Do you give a token donation? If the latter, how much?"

I feel his pain. While I recognize that organizing and maintaining these exhibits comes at a great cost and somebody must bear the burden, I also realize that it is difficult for families today to find stimulating and/or educational activities at low cost. My husband is forever mindful of not perpetuating the stereotype of "cheap Jew" (but then again, many non-Jews take advantage of the 'suggested donation' option....).

What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food Photo Friday

Today's Food Photo Friday comes to us courtesy of Hadassah. Here's what she says:

Heart Shaped Pull Apart Challah

Use your regular challah recipe. Or use
mine here – but this makes a ton of dough so you might want to make a smaller recipe.

When it is done its second rising, whip out your heart shaped cake pan, take six equal sized pieces of the dough, roll into balls, and place in greased pan leaving a little room between the balls so they can rise. Let rise for up to 45 minutes, then paint with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds (all optional), then bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Hadassah's heart shaped challah

Now I know the rest of you are eating as well! So get out your cameras and send me some photos.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Commemorating Rav Breuer's 30th Yahrzeit

Along with many others who value his mesorah, the family of Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer took time out this weekend to commemorate and reflect on the occasion of this great man's 30th yahrzeit.

The morning began with a family gathering at the kever of our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Three kapitel tehillim were recited as family solemnly remembered.

Later that afternoon, a larger crowd of close to 200 descendants of Rav Breuer, ranging in age from just a few weeks old to over 90 years old, joined together from all over the world (with a few unfortunately sidelined due to volcanic ash clouds over England) for a siyum on Tanach. There was a general feeling of closeness among the family - even though Rav Breuer's physical presence was absent, his legacy and teachings have kept the family spirit alive and warm.

Speakers from each branch of the family stressed the importance of learning and spreading the words of Rav Hirsch and Rav Breuer. The quintessential Breuer trait of being "Osek B'Tzorchei Tzibbur", both on a grand scale as well as in smaller ways, was discussed and extolled. One speaker marveled at the fact that Rav Breuer, even with the challenges of getting a fledgling kehilla off the ground, still managed to give his congregants over 10 hours of shiurim every week, which included, among other things, four different mesechtas in gemarah.

The evening, with its speeches, vignettes and a touching slideshow, did much to uplift and inform the older as well as the younger generations, many of whom may not even have met their esteemed ancestor.

Rav Breuer learning with my father-in-law in his study

Rav Breuer reading the New York Times in Tannersville, NY

Friday, April 16, 2010

Food Photo Friday - Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup melted margarine
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 lb. powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces chocolate chips
2 Tablespoon oil

Beat margarine, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Shape into balls and freeze for about an hour on a tray/sheet covered with foil.

Melt the oil and chocolate in a double boiler (you can probably do this in the microwave if you are careful). Dip the balls in the chocolate halfway and then put them back in the freezer to set.

Makes 7-8 dozen (actual count is difficult to achieve - they seem to "disappear" quickly...)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ah... The Irony.....

I came prepared with my (OK... Joey's...) shiny red travel mug to Starbucks' "Make a Difference" day.

For the good of the planet (so says their website), the company was encouraging everybody to come to their local Starbucks on April 15th with a reusable mug. In return, Starbucks would fill it for free with brewed coffee.

Now aside from the fact that there are those who claim that these reusable mugs are actually worse for the environment than the standard paper coffee cups, one has to appreciate the paradox of what happened to me next.

After the barista got off his snappy little comment that "Sorry, but the offer includes every color mug except red...." (Oh, I'm laughing so hard that if I had it yet, I'd be spitting out my coffee.... Do they attend training days for this stuff?), he became genuinely concerned that my mug (I must admit that stainless steel is a dumb material for the construction of travel mugs...) was getting too hot.

So what does he do? He INSERTS MY MUG INTO A PAPER COFFEE CUP. Way to save the enviroment, buddy.......

You've gotta love the irony!

Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer zt"l - 30th Yahrzeit

This coming Shabbos, 3 Iyar, marks the 30th yahrzeit of Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer zt"l.

The following is an excerpt from Rav Breuer - His Life and his Legacy and is reprinted with the permission of the Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Foundation:

"The Midrash tells us that while Moshe was shepherding the flocks of Yisro, a lamb ran away. Moshe chased it until the lamb became ensnared in a thorn bush next to a spring of water from which the lamb began to drink. When Moshe approached and saw the lamb thirstily drinking from the water, he said: "I did not realize that you ran away because you were thirsty. You must be tired." He then carried it on his shoulders and walked back. G_d then said: "You have mercy to treat the flocks of man in this manner! I swear that you shall tend My flock, Israel"

Rav Joseph Breuer was a shepherd, concerned with his flock's every need. For some forty years he nurtured them, protecting them from the spiritual pollution that had affected so many by teaching them so that they had the strength to meet any challenge, providing them with the means to resist dissipation in the American melting pot. Like a shepherd, he protected his flock by leading them to drink from the pure wellsprings of Torah, shielding them from the dangers of cultural assimilation that had led so many astray.

His erudition and eloquence, his uncompromising adherence to halachah - they were all factors that enabled him to accomplish that which he did. There was his all encompassing vision, his uncompromising belief that what had stemmed the tide of assimilation in Frankfurt could be equally successful in America. And above it all there was his incredible yashrus, his unparalleled integrity and honesty that stood as a beacon, drawing his congregants toward him has he illuminated their lives with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

והחוט המשלש לא במהרה ינתק - the threefold cord will not easily become undone (Koheles 4:12). Building according to the plans designed by his grandfather, R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, and his father, R. Shlomo Breuer, Rav Joseph Breuer successfully constructed an edifice whose strength and vitality remain a lesson to all and have a lasting impact on future generations."
זכותו יגן עלינו

I would also like to take this opportunity to highly recommend this recently released book containing 136 essays by Rav Breuer zt"l.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shadow In The Window

Shadows can be deceiving.
I live on the sixth floor of an apartment building.
There has been ongoing (endless) construction on the building adjacent to mine. The sounds of workmen are ever present.
THIS is the morning view in my (remember - sixth floor) window! (Straight out of the camera - absolutely no alterations...)
Creepy, no?

(Keep in mind... this guy is on the roof of the ADJACENT building... in a construction helmet - not a fedora....)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Adaptive Obsolescence?"

This post is about the Yekkish community in Washington Heights, but it could be applied just as well to other issues.

I happened to be a casual observer to a discussion on Twitter this week in which one person wrote, "Among Yekkes,being called Rabbi-Doktor is the ultimate in respect!", to which somebody else responded, "That was back when Washington Heights was Yekkish rather than Charedi-lite".

This is how we're viewed on the outside?

Over the years, as the population and membership of KAJ declined, much back and forth discussion took place as how to revitalize the neighborhood. Was it housing issues that forced people out? That issue was considered.
Was it the minhogim that were too "strict" or "different"? Should we "adapt" to be more "like everybody else" - abandon our minhagim to an extent in order to boost our numbers? This doesn't seem to be necessary for Belzers or Satmars.

I find it a very interesting phenomenon that there is a segment of population that has moved out of the neighborhood and (largely) abandoned the minhagim on a personal level. But if they come back for a simcha, or for a visit, they will rail at the changes to the nusach and to the shul. Therefore, we can assume that there is a connection felt to the mesorah. But has it taken on a "museum" quality - to be visited on occasion but not worked for?

And here's my larger question: If we make ourselves just like everybody else (or a reasonable facsimile), at what point have we adapted ourselves into virtual obsolescence? At what point in our quest for broader acceptance do we lose our essential self?
What is the point then?
If everyone is apathetic, is there anything worth fighting for anyway?
Is there anybody who cares anymore, and if not, why not? Have we no pride in our heritage?
Is it perhaps better to just "die quietly" than to succumb to the religious vandalism of our traditions?

(I was hesitant to post this because I don't want the comments to get out of hand. Kindly attempt to address comments to my 'larger question' of Adaptive Obsolescence. I have turned comment moderation "on" for the time being. Thank you.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Food Photo Fridays

You heard me.

Thanks to blog reader FBB, for emailing me the link to this New York Times article.

It provides a fascinating social commentary on the current trend of people photographing the food that they eat and publishing those photos on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, photo sharing websites and a myriad of other sites.

Addtionally, according to the article, bloggers and Facebook-ers are finding that their most popular posts are those that contain photos of their food. (As a personal aside, I find that a significant number of new blog readers find my blog for the first time by googling the name of a specific food. Do you have any idea how many people google "strawberry fluff"???!??)

Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders, is quoted as saying the following: “In the unconscious mind, food equals love because food is our deepest and earliest connection with our caretaker. So it makes sense that people would want to capture, collect, catalog, brag about and show off their food.” (Personal aside #2: I guess I love you all A LOT...)

Website developer Carl Rosenberg states: “You have more of a direct connection with your food, so it forms a more essential memory of an occasion. I think photographing food is a more accurate way to document life. Food isn’t going to put on a special face when you take a picture of it.”

I couldn't agree more.

Therefore, in my continuing quest to document life (my own as well as others'), I am experimenting with a new meme entitled "Food Photo Friday". I will use many of my own photos, but would love this to be an interactive effort. So start photographing and emailing! I'd love to see what you are all cooking and/or eating. Get creative. This isn't a Susie Fischbein cookbook. This is REAL LIFE. Yours and mine ;)

I Wish Blogger Had An "Insert Aroma" Feature...

Inserting this photo just doesn't seem adequate.
The house smells tantalizingly like Shabbos.

Wishing all my readers happiness, HEALTH and prosperity.

(For those of you who are curious, I bake my shlussel challahs with the key protruding slightly. I'm nervous about embedding a key because if an unsuspecting diner breaks a tooth, the only person whose parnassa increases will be the dentist....)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chossid On Chol Hamoed

Believe it or not, my readers are starting to do my work for me :)
Even though I was a bit busier than usual in my kitchen this Yom Tov, I received a number of reader submissions for my "Chossid on Chol Hamoed" series (one came from as far away as Israel) and I thank you all for playing.
I've chosen this photo, taken at Votee Park because it's less controversial than last year's shot and even though you can't see the children off playing elsewhere, you can see the hand of a chassidishe girl who was hiding behind a tree taking the same shot as the photographer.

Thanks again to my "wishing to remain anonymous" contributor along with all my other contributors. Keep those photos and comments coming!
(Guest posts are also welcome, though I do reserve the right to make the final determination as to whether the post fits the 'flavor' of the blog)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Getting Set In Wine Stains Out Of Tablecloths

I make no money off this product.

But it's miraculous enough for me to want to share the joy.
You might have noticed that we don't use plastic overlays on our tablecloths.
You might imagine that children (and adults) spill copious amounts of wine and grape juice over eight days and two sedarim.
What you might NOT know, is that I smile calmly throughout, because OxiClean Powder removes the darkest, most set in wine stains easily. I wet each an every stain (Okay, I do get a bit obsessive about this part and treat even the tiniest ones) and rub in a paste of the powder and water (sort of like these instructions). Don't get nervous when the purple spots instantly turn blue... that's a good sign. I then launder as usual with an extra scoop of Oxi with the detergent in the machine for good measure. Voilà.

(Three down.... five to go.....)

Don't thank me.... just call me Heloise ;) (and pick me up the giant size the next time you're in Target)

p.s. It works just as well on blood and stubborn baby spit up stains....

Did You Have A Lovely Yom Tov?

I am certainly hoping that all of you did.

And if you did, I'm going to give you the following piece of advice (my family need not listen... they went above and beyond...).

Go to the person or people who helped make your Yom Tov so nice and thank them. This could be somebody who hosted your seder This could be somebody who shared divrei Torah with you at the Yom Tov table. This could be somebody who helped arrange a Chol Homoed outing. This could be a family member who stopped in for a visit.
It could be the husband who pitched in with the heavy cleaning - the wife who cooked and cleaned with such dedication - the child who shopped or babysat the little ones.
Call them.
Email them.
Tell them that their efforts had a positive impact on your Pesach.

(Of course, if you did everything all by yourself, you should drop everything go get a massage.... Hey, even if you had help, go get a massage... I'll come with you!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lesser Known Universal Pesach Moments

This could be a "Top Ten" list, except I don't think I can come up with a full ten in my overtired, under-fibered state.

Feel free to add your own.
  • The moment that all frum women find themselves on erev Yom Tov in the local drugstore, clutching the Kosher L'Pesach cosmetics lists, trying to choose between two equally heinous shades of lipstick. They just know that they will hate the way it looks. They wonder why they bother for the 2 or 3 days that they can wear it anyway. It is like watching an impending train wreck and being powerless to stop it....
  • The moment that you realize that yet another fork will need kashering because your family is remains clueless as to which Pesach cutlery sets are milchig or fleishig.
  • Sweeping matzoh crumbs.
  • Sweeping matzoh crumbs in the same spot five minutes later.
  • OK, where are these crumbs coming from anyway?!?!
  • Getting reacquainted with prunes.
  • Watching the young children very seriously discuss whether Eliyahu's kos is just a little bit emptier than it was the night before.