Monday, August 31, 2009

תקעו בחדש שופר

My father ז''ל was Baal Tokeah in Breuer's from 1958 until he retired in 1987. He was well known for his mastery of the more challenging "yekkish" teruohs, which involve manipulation and control of the diaphragm, as opposed to the tongue. To my mind, these teruohs sound more like actual sobbing than the traditional ones.

I do not have any sound recordings of my father's talents, but if any of his students who read this blog are in possession of such a thing, you know where to find me ;).

I have long maintained though, that every shofar has a "voice" and when my son Michael blows my father's preferred shofar in the same manner in which he was taught - and if I close my eyes, I am transported back in time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


For only a few weeks out of the year, local fruit markets offer the essential ingredient in an old-style German dessert called Zwetschgenkuchen (listen to the pronunciation here.... gosh I love the internet).
I have this great desire to "chap arein" each year and make this pie every Shabbos for Shalosh Seudos because the Italian plum season is so short.
This week is officially Week #1 and I thought I'd share my recipe with you. This recipe is an adaptation and compilation of several different recipes which I toyed with until I got the desired results. The pie crust recipe {traditional German "Muerbe" cookie dough crust} belonged to my grandmother (a.k.a. Ami). You know it's my Ami's recipe because there are no proper measurements and there are no proper directions. I used to beg her to be more specific on things, but her answer was always the same - "I cannot tell you. You have to watch.".
As with many other traditional old style foods, don't expect this pie to cut nicely or anything, but it sure will taste delicious. (Shhhh, don't tell Michael. It's his favorite and I'm sending some over before Shabbos)

Ami's (Cookie Dough) Pie Crust

1 egg
4 spoons fat
6 spoons sugar
12 spoons flour

Adjust to proper consistency. Press into pyrex pie dish. Sprinkle some ground nuts on top if desired.

Plum Pie

2 lbs. Italian plums -- or more
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
Ami's Pie Dough Recipe

Prepare pie crust.

Mix together sugar and cornstarch.

Wash plums. Slit open lengthwise almost all the way. Remove pits.

Dredge plums in sugar mixture and arrange in pie crust close together.

Pour any remaining sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and bake 30-40 minutes more (the exudate should be bubbling).

Enjoy and Good Shabbos.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Positive Experience In Boro Park

Doesn't that sound like an oxymoron?
It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I embarked on an excursion with Jennifer yesterday to purchase eyeglasses and a few other pre school year, pre yom tov items.
Since in the past I have never been reticent about my great love of these adventures, I figure that in the interest of honest reporting, I should let you know that yesterday went off without a hitch.
The eyeglass store was fairly empty, and it took us longer to choose our frames than for the finished products to be ready. Oh Nuts! did not have my cherry sours, but believe me, I came home with enough cashews and vienesse crunch to ease the disappointment. The guy behind the counter at Eichlers actually waited on me after he finished his half hour phone conversation when he got the chance. He also taught me something I never knew. Did you know that there is no way to figure out the size of tzitzis that a man wears unless he is present? Who knew?
In any case, after Jen and I treated ourselves to a slice of pizza and ran into friends in the process, we were duly informed why our experience had been so positive...... apparently ALL THE BORO PARKERS are still in the country!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Me Monday

This was not me today as I kicked up my heels in Staples, oooh-ing and aaah-ing over all matter of pink/flocked/striped/polka dotted school "necessities". I certainly did not put anything and everything into my cart that Jen requested just to get that "Going Back to School" high buzzing through my brain. I surely cannot tell you in days/minutes/seconds how far off the first day of school is.

What kind of mother wouldn't want her child joined at the hip for the next 15 days, reading over her shoulder at the computer, sitting side by side with her at the office, talking incessantly all the while (commenting as she writes blog posts, "That's very mean, Mommy")?

I also did not, at my daughter's annual physical today, when told by the pediatrician that she was due for FOUR shots, urge him to give them all to her on the spot so I wouldn't have to sit in his hot, stuffy waiting room a second time. I also most certainly DID NOT give him that vague, confused look, when he mentioned to me that she hasn't had her bloodwork done in the last seven years. I most certainly did not pocket the requisition for said unnecessary bloodwork with the same enthusiasm and assurances that I did last year.

Now, head on over to MckMama's blog and see what everybody else hasn't been up to....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chaim Berlin Apikores Does Teshuva.....

If I didn't see it with my own two eyes I wouldn't believe it. You can't make this stuff up!!!

Apparently the folks over at Chaim Berlin really have their priorities in order.

If you only read one blog post (other than my own of course) this week, you must have a look over at Jacob Da Jew. I repost it here, in its entirety.

"Received from Mordy from The Knish. Too good.
Dearest Readers:

Last year I shared with you the sad picture of an apikorus in the heilige Chaim Berlin Beis Medrash, easily spotted due to his blue shirt. You can see this tragic photo, chosen by Chaim Berlin to grace their 2009 calendar, here:

I'm relieved to inform you that the nebach bochur has done teshuva!! I recently received the Chaim Berlin 2010 calendar and, as you can see in the attached scan, the previously-stained bochur is now wearing a white shirt!

Yes, the attached file really is an unedited scan of the 2010 calendar cover (except for the green commentary, of course). Yes, it really is the exact same shot as the 2009 calendar with one small difference. You can verify this with anyone who receives Chaim Berlin's fundraising material.

In this time of public scandals and serious problems in our community it's good to know that someone at Chaim Berlin took the time to change a blue shirt to a white one. I'm speaking of course of the bochur, that inspiring role model who saw the error of his ways. How he got everyone to pose in the exact same way for the reshoot I don't know, but I'd guess it's because they were inspired by his teshuvah. Please forward this around and/or post it publicly so as to be mefarsem the bochur's inspiring change.


DovBear has a very different, more serious take on this whole matter as well. I encourage you to check it out.....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Help, There's a Shark In My Toilet!!!!

OK, some of you may need a "TMI Alert" for this post, but I must share with you that I think there is a shark in my toilet. Seriously! I don't know what this "fin" is, sticking out of the fresh water pump place thingy (don't you love my technical plumber terms?) in the toilet.
Avram was actually brave enough to go in (yes, with a GLOVED hand...!) and try to extricate it, but to no avail. It wouldn't budge.
Does anybody out there have any ideas?
Scroll down......This is the best I could come up with..........

Bas Mitzvah Mania

We are now 2 1/2 months away from Jennifer's bas mitzvah.
Jennifer has been planning for this occasion for the last 11 years 9 1/2 months.
Where did the time go?

Please understand that in our family, bas mitzvah events are low key affairs, appropriate for the significance of the milestone. There will be a home cooked party for her friends and classmates.
There will be no big catered affair with "facilitators" dressed in black lycra dresses and copper spangled bolero jackets.... no bunny ears prizes... no ten piece professional band.... no helium balloon sculptures large enough to launch the entire population of Nebraska into the stratosphere....
However, this doesn't stop Jen from agonizing about every tiny detail and of course, true to female form, changing her mind every 36 hours.
If she's this intense over her bas mitzvah, I seriously think we should let her elope one day ;)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seven Things I Love

Prof K tagged me in a "7 Things I love" meme.

I'm not going overthink it. I'm just going to "stream of consciousness" it.....
  1. I love my family. (Well, more than seven of them ;) .... I could stop the list right here.)
  2. I love Shabbos and all that it brings.... holiness, tranquility and {here comes #3}........
  3. I love guests. I love all that I learn from our guests, both book-wise and life-lesson-wise.
  4. I love the "little things" in life. Save your grand gestures. It's the smallest things that bring a smile to my face.
  5. I love sunrises, sunsets and ocean waves. (Bring me back a seashell from a trip to the beach and we're instant friends.... {another tie-in to #4....}.
  6. I love cooking and baking. It's my therapy. Some people knit... I bake.
  7. I love really clever humor.

I'm tagging everybody who has a desire to continue the meme on their blog and nobody who doesn't. Have a blast.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Me! Monday.... Getting My Feet Wet....

I've been wanting for a long time to participate in
Not Me! Monday over at MckMama's blog, but I haven't been able to work up the guts that other bloggers I enjoy, apparently have. Last week however, was just too good not to share.

So here's how Not Me! Monday works.
It was born out of a desire to admit one's imperfections and reveal some moments one would rather forget. Feel free to join in and share what you have not been doing.... it might prove therapeutic!

So here goes:
Last Tuesday, as temperatures spiked to highs not seen previously this summer, I did NOT decide that it was an auspicious day to pull out my cutting board and huge stockpot and cook up a 2-3 week batch of fruit soup in my sweltering kitchen. Nope! Not me!!

I definitely did NOT then forget about the pot that I had slaved over and then left to cool down a bit on the stove, only to discover it a full 24 hours later still standing on the burner. That would be just terrible.....

I also did not decide on the following day, with temperatures still hovering near 90 degrees, that I should right then and there prepare an even LARGER pot (5-6 weeks worth) of chicken soup, which simmers for three hours. Not me.....
I also did not run around to all my family members begging them to remind me not to forget that pot on the stove all night as well.
I DEFINITELY DID NOT then subsequently proceed to once again forget that pot on the stove until morning. That would certainly NOT be something I would do......

Sooooo..... what have you all not been doing lately? :D

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Think I'd Rather Move Than Paint.....

In the comments section of a recent post of mine, the discussion veered a bit off course on to the topic of painting, or rather, my utter aversion to having to go through the ordeal of getting the apartment painted.


I'd rather MOVE than paint.... probably because painting is almost the same as moving anyway, only you don't get upgraded to bigger digs, more storage space or a backyard. All you get are new scratches to the existing furniture, paint splatters on the floors that now need to be refinished (oh joy! Another reason to have to leave the apartment for days on end...), a thrown-out back on whichever family member always says, "No, no - I can get this myself...." and lung searing fumes that linger long after the painter has left his last booze bottle for you to trip over.

Nevertheless, every six months or so we have "The Discussion". Joey looooves this part because he can usually mouth along verbatim and he finds it intensely funny. Now mind you, we never initiate "The Discussion" on our own. It usually begins when some unwitting guest makes some comment about something-or-other which leads somebody to utter the dreaded "P word".

Here's the transcript of "The Discussion":

Avram: "You know, we really do need to get the painters".

Me: "I agree with you 100%, I just cannot deal with it emotionally. If you want to take a week off and make all the arrangements and take care of it all, you are more than welcome".

Avram: "Maybe I will"

We are then safe for another several months.... disaster averted.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Feel Like I'm Pregnant

Ooooh, I'd better clarify that statement quickly before the gossip mill starts up and I begin getting pointed stares at my belly on the street.

I've been told that I move (and talk) rather quickly. I prefer to see it as *purposefully*, but we won't get into the semantics of it right now. When I was pregnant, there were times when I 'forgot' that I had a rather large mass protruding from my body and when I rounded corners (sharply, and at an impressive, *purposeful* pace) in my apartment, I'd often 'clip' junior and give him/her quite a jolt. (I will not admit to the fact that I may have once or twice possibly done it to them as babies when I was carrying them over my arm as well.... I will not.... )

We have recently installed a few new items of furniture in our apartment. I find myself consistently running in to them as I blindly round corners on my well charted paths. (and even more embarrassing - I'm left in a stunned stupor each and every time it happens....) You know how those new cars have sensors that beep when you are about to run in to something? Could I get one of those implanted maybe?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Scene Around Town - Summer Cooldown Edition

I took this photo this past February and thought it might be just the thing to add a little "cool" to a hot summer day. I love the world when it is freshly dusted with snow. All the city sounds are more muted. Everything looks a bit cleaner and softer.
Stay cool today everybody and don't forget to DRINK.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Get Inside My Head... It's A Segulah....

I'm serious....!
For the second time in a couple of months, a boy has gotten engaged right after I merely THOUGHT of setting him up!
Now of course, they didn't get engaged to the girls I was about to offer them, but that's entirely besides the point.
You see, I think that the mere fact that these boys were on my mind was a segulah for them to find their bashert.
So come on guys (and girls) - - - get inside my head!!!!

In Answer To Your Questions...

... is it my imagination, or has the countdown timer recently sprung to life again?

Smiley Faces

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"Dinner" Etiquette II

I'm going to poll the audience on this one.

How do you feel about the family and guests starting to eat before the hostess finishes serving?
Do you have any rules about this at your table?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jewish Economics circa 1970

There has been much discussion, particularly in these difficult economic times, as to the manner in which Orthodox Jews choose to spend their money, and the unique challenges that they face.
(This would be a good point to once again plug Ezzie's Jewish Economic Survey and to encourage everybody to help him out in this endeavor...)

To put a lighter spin on things, I thought it might be amusing to take a peek back into the past, thanks to my father in law's meticulous record keeping, and see what a "typical" bar mitzvah might have cost almost 40 years ago. (I am not including the whole list here, rather only a few items {some from the Shabbos reception and some from the Bar Mitzvah dinner} for interest's sake)

Tefillin - $ 85.00

Tallis and tefillin bags $ 9.00

100 lbs. of cookies $150.00 (I'm not sure what shocks me more - the fact that there were enough guests for the reception after Shul on shabbos morning to warrant ONE HUNDRED POUNDS of cookies or the fact that they cost $1.50 a pound!!!!)

30 Bottles of Wine $ 50.00

Bar Mitzvah Dinner $13.00/pp

Cigars & Cigarrettes $ 40.00 (Finally! Something we are spending less on!)

Flowers $ 35.00

I'd be interested to hear from readers who recently made simchas how their search for $1.66 bottles of wine went ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

One of my favorite sculptures located in Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, and my family clowning around with it.........

Visit Ruby Tuesday for links to more red themed photos.....

Monday, August 3, 2009

... לזכר נשמת

A limited number of slots are still available to learn mishnayos in memory of my mother in law.
Please sign up here if you would like to participate.

I am well aware that I have not written more about the special woman that she was.
This is because I am waiting until I have the time to do such an important post justice - but it is forthcoming.

Thank you in advance for helping give her נשמה an עליה

U/D (8/11): We have now filled all slots. Thanks to those readers who participated (and you know who you are ;) )

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Person Who Would Have Enjoyed It The Most, Wasn't There...

Today marks the end of the shiva week for my dear mother in law z"l.
It is with much emotion that the family begins the task of rejoining "normal" life, though the definition of normal, has been forever changed. No more daily phone calls. No more weekly grocery shopping. No more Shabbos morning visits.
This past Shabbos was spent with the family all together, gaining strength and comfort from each other's presence. Since all the siblings do not live in the same city and the children are for the most part adults or nearly so, we seldom have a chance to be together in this way and I daresay it was special. Sadly, my mother in law would have loved every minute of our Shabbos meals, only she wasn't there to see it in person, though I firmly believe she does know.