Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Succah Hop Final Stop - Have A Seat At Our Table

.... and have a wonderful Yom Tov!
(it looks like our granddaughter Kayla was getting an early start while we were setting the table...)

GWC2D Succah Hop Meets The Chossid On Chol Hamoed...

Avid readers of my blog may be familiar with my "Chossid On Chol Hamoed" photos.
This is my favorite (taken back in 2008 - notice the shtreimel resting beside him), but others are here and here.

Well, since I am up to my neck in Succah Hop pictures, I thought I'd combine the two in one posting.

Long time blog reader and commenter, the oxymoronic Yekkishe Bekkishe made his annual pilgrimage to our neighborhood to daven Hoshana Rabo in the shul where his grandfather z"l davened. (Some people take their families to the zoo on Chol Hamoed, some people take them to see the Yekkes...)

I captured this photo of him in front of KAJ's Catered Succah.

Here's wishing him, along with all my other readers a wonderful Yom Tov!

Succah Hop - "Today We're Livin' In A Shanty"

This aerial view of a local backyard conjures up images of shantytowns of old...
There are actually MORE succahs in this backyard than the camera was able to capture in one frame.
When living in apartment buildings, you become very "close" with your neighbors ;)

GWC2D Succah Hop Goes To Kansas City

Here is Mara's and her husband Frankie's sukkah, in Kansas City, which was decorated by their three kids! Mara writes a frugal Jewish blog, called Kosher on a Budget, where she's hosting a virtual succah hop of her own. She says everyone is welcome to join!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Succah Hop - Seasonal In Highland Park, New Jersey

Look at the lovely fall foliage decorating Leora's succah! Thanks Leora, for generously allowing me to share your photo with my readers.

The Succah Hop Goes To Munkatch

Thanks again to Yekke Wannabe for sending this video in.
(For some undetermined reason, it's not showing up in everybody's Google Reader. Click to the blog to view and sorry for the inconvenience...)

Succah Hop - The "Why You Can't Find Parking" Edition

Don't you HATE when that happens to you?
All the good spots are taken up by succahs!!!

Submitted By: Yekke Wannabe

Monday, September 27, 2010


In the rush to come up with fresh and innovative menu plans for six meals this past Yom Tov, I tried several new recipes that I culled from various websites around the internet.

One of my personal favorites was a decadent Chocolate Coconut Brownie that I dubbed "YeshivaWorld Brownies", for the website on which I found the recipe. In the madness of pre-Yom Tov cooking, I didn't have time to properly organize and file away all the new things I was trying and relied instead on scraps of paper printed quickly and stuffed here and there between the pages of my cookbook.

Chol Hamoed arrived and it was time to restock and replenish my supply of goodies for the next round. The YeshivaWorld brownies had definitely been deemed a "keeper", so off I went to their website to locate the recipe and whip up another scrumptious batch. But the recipe was NOWHERE to be found. A quick search of their website turned up no results. I doubled back to my Google Reader and searched there. NADA. My chocolate coconut brownies had dropped off the face of the internet!!!!

Now I was starting to panic. Where had my Yeshiva World Brownie recipe gone and WHY?? Could there be some new kashrus problems with coconut that I hadn't heard about that might cause the Yeshiva World to pull the recipe off its site? Bugs? Anasakis worms? Chometz She'ovor Olov HaPesach? WHAT?!?!? Could the recipe have been posted without permission? This was very odd......

My last resort was to sift through all the loose pages stuck helter skelter in my cookbook in the hopes of retrieving the cocoa-stained scrap that had been used to create the original masterpiece. After quite some time searching, I stood up triumphantly waving the crumpled page. I eagerly scanned every word trying to find a clue as to why it had been removed from The Yeshiva World website. I looked at the internet address printed on the bottom of the page...... well, don't I feel silly...............

GWC2D Succah Hop - Lincoln Park Jewish Center

We spent some time yesterday in Yonkers at the Simchas Beis Hashoeva of the Lincoln Park Jewish Center. Little did we know that it would double as a surprise Lechayim, when the Rabbi got up and passed out cups of champagne. He joyfully announced to all those assembled that his father had just become engaged to one of the shul's favorite members!

This "green" succah (think eco-friendly, not pine needles) was built by the Rabbi, along with his father, brother and another shul member and uses solar powered lights, recycled wood and wood from sustainable forests.

If you look closely on the floorboards (it would be easier if the tables weren't set up already) you can see a portion of the menorah that was inlaid into the floor design.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Food Photo Chol Hamoed - Marzipan Brownies

Due to an incredible dearth of (non Yom Tov, non Erev Yom Kippur) Fridays lately, coupled with overwhelming reader request both on and off blog, I'm posting this special edition of Food Photo Friday even though it is clearly NOT a Friday. Those of you who are eager for Food Photo Fridays containing old black and white photos and deep dark family secrets, will just have to wait for another REAL Friday to come along....
So stay tuned.....
And enjoy my recipe for marzipan brownies in the mean time.


3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (substitution: 9 Tbsp. cocoa + 3 Tbsp. oil)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 dash salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
7 ounces marzipan (or almond paste)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place chocolate and butter in saucepan and heat over hot water until melted. Remove from heat, stir, and then set aside to cool slightly.

2. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. Stir in sugar into chocolate mixture and eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add almond extract. Blend in flour mixture.

4. Evenly spread half of the batter into greased 8" square pan. Set aside.

5. Soften marzipan and roll out into an 8" square. Place marzipan on top of batter in pan. Gently spread remaining batter evenly over marzipan layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

1st Annual GWC2D Succah Hop - PART TWO

Welcome one and all to the Beit Shean Valley installment of the Succah Hop.
On this leg of our journey, we will be visiting sunny Israel, where the Succos temperatures can soar to 98 degrees.
Blog reader Perlsand, who kindly sent in this photo (I'm still waiting on a few more from the rest of you!) informs me that she hasn't yet forgotten the New York Succoses of her childhood where they sat in coats and blankets and left the sodas out on the apartment windowsill in order to chill them. By contrast, she now has one half-wall for ventilation and three fans!

(Keep those submission coming! and don't forget to tell me how/if you'd like to be credited. Try something new. Make it fun! We all can't wait to "pop in".)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

“Après moi le déluge”

(.... alternately entitled, "Hey, this gravy wasn't this watery when we brought it down to the succah....")

How does one wrap up three awesomely amazing days in one blog post?
It's not that I don't know where to begin. That is easy.
Erev Yom Tov dawned oppressively humid, with conflicting weather reports. Depending on which source one trusted for their up to the minute forecasts, there was between a 30% and a 60% chance of heavy downpours sometime between 6 pm and 3 am. But, I'm an optimist......

I had our family's table set in the Kehilla's Communal "Shlep" Succah (adjacent to the Kehilla's Catered Succah) with our nicest linen and lined with three small vases of fall inspired flowers and berries. Silverware gleamed and goblets shone. Everything looked perfect except for the weather. It was positively ominous. We nevertheless sat down to kiddush, challah and a lovely appetizer course of potato knishes in mushroom sauce. Just as we were soaking up the last of the gravy with our challah, the rains hit. AND THAT'S AN UNDERSTATEMENT!!! As the deluge sluiced through the schach, turning starched white shirts translucent (start focusing your mental pictures here folks... it was Yom Tov.... I couldn't record the action), Joey had a brilliant idea. Just a few feet away from where our succah stood, there was the safe haven of the school's covered playground.
Picture this:
Joey at one end of the finely set table. Avram at the other. Like an ancient warrior with a battering ram, Joey decided to charge full force with the fully set table out of the succah and into the (relative) dryness of the playground - - - only to come to a screeching halt {insert screech sound along with heavy, HEAVY rainfall sounds here} at the door of the succah, which was unfortunately a few inches too narrow to accommodate his would have been brilliant plan.
Time for some quick thinking.... (it was POURING, remember). A speedy un-setting of the table so it could be rushed out on its side and several mad dashes back and forth to retrieve glasses, plates, napkins, silverware and vases and we were happily enjoying our soup as the non-stop lightening provided a "dinner and a show" atmosphere. Oh, and since the patrons of the Catered Succah also relocated to the covered playground, we got their d'var torah free of charge ;) . An added bonus was that along with the torrents came a hint of a breeze. Of course there was a bit of fun when re-setting the table, trying to figure out whose glass was whose by their drink of choice (and how much alcohol could be sniffed in the glasses....).

Some of my favorite quotes of the evening, by other patrons of the Kehilla Succahs:
  • The minute we resettled, Brunhilda's father (who was eating catered) made a mad dash over to me to bemoan the fact that it was Yom Tov and I couldn't record/photograph the high drama for the blogosphere.
  • The smiling caterer for the Kehilla's Catered Succah - "I love when it rains.... then I know that I'll definitely have enough soup!"
  • CK, being dogged by AR, who had not yet made kiddush before the excitement hit and was asking her advice as to what he should do next - "I'm not a Rabbi. I'm a Mommy!"
It should be noted here that our Rav made a special trip out in the rain to our location to make sure that everyone was managing, and to answer any sha'alohs that might have arisen for those who had not yet started their meal.

After all that, the rest of Yom Tov was rather pedestrian.

We had better weather (i.e. no rain), though it was still oppressively hot (stay tuned for an upcoming "Succah Hop" post featuring how Perlsand's succah is uniquely suited for warmer climates).

We had wonderful guests, both old friends and new (our community is located right near a major medical center so Yomim Tovim often find us with last minute guests with family members unexpectedly in the hospital) and the meals were delicious. Joey was a bit perturbed that he was banned from finishing the marzipan brownies for shalosh seudos because I hadn't yet photographed them for the blog....... ah.... the sacrifices we make.......

Now we rest our overstimulated bellies and prepare for the invasion of "last days" Yom Tov - the final installment in the trio of Three Day Yomim Tovim that we've had the pleasure to experience this year. Michael, Chana and Eliezer will be joining us, along with Moshe, Erica, Kayla and Tzipora and a few other assorted guests. Now if I can only get my hands on a third Pack 'n Play.......

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1st Annual GWC2D Succah Hop - PART ONE


Welcome one and all to the first installment of the Succah Hop.
Our first stop is Monsey, NY.
My friend Stuie has generously allowed me to post these photos of the awesome effort that his daughter Nechama has undertaken over the last twelve years (she started when she was in 11th grade!!!). As their family grows, boruch Hashem, so does their succah. Year after year, each new wall is lovingly and expertly painted. (I have also discovered that Nechama is available to paint murals in the Monsey area)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Succos In The 1930s

This photo was taken in Mannheim, Germany, some time in the mid-1930s.
My father is the cute little boy in the middle, sitting next to his brother.
The couple behind him are my grandparents.
Notice the traditional German Shabbos Lamp hanging in the corner.

I guess not much had changed since 1867, when Moritz Oppenheim painted this scene:

I sure do love succahs with pine needles.........

Today Is Somebody's Birthday... Who's Birthday?...

... Joey's birthday! How old is he? 22!!!!!

I still remember that Yom Kippur that I paced the halls of Presbyterian Hospital with Avram. Me, wishing he'd come already because 9 months can and does feel like 9 years sometimes - Avram, because he was missing davening in shul and was hoping to be back in time for mincha (he was ;) ).

Joey is a very special and caring young man. Not only does he live a life that is shaping up to be a shining example of Torah Im Derech Eretz, but he also truly cares about others. In the global sense as well as in the personal sense.
One example of each.
He gives blood as often as New York City allows.
When his mother is stressed to the max, he comes home with tropical scented body wash for her to help take her stresses away.

Line up ladies! (He's gonna absolutely kill me for writing that..... tee hee....)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tomorrow, in fact, happens to be Erica's birthday. It makes me chuckle to remember how when she was a little girl she could never understand how, if she was the OLDER sister, Joey was born a day EARLIER.....


The First Annual GWC2D Succah Hop

Attention all readers:
I need your help for this one.
I'd like to put up a photographic posting on on Chol Hamoed entitled The First Annual Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Succah Hop.

Send in your photos of Succahs!
Your neighbors.
Something you see on your travels.
Let's take the blogiverse on a Succah Hop!

What are you waiting for? Go get your cameras!
Send submissions to and indicate how you would like to be listed (if at all) in the credits.

Monday, September 20, 2010

You Haven't Been Blogging As Much Lately ... What HAVE You Been Doing???

Let's see.....

Marzipan Brownies
Chocolate Cake
Tongue (Oh, don't make that face... you eat liver after all!!)
Sweetbreads (OK, OK, but they are NOT brains...)
Butternut Squash Kugel
Lox Quiche
Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Brownies
Apple Kugel
Veal Roast
Silver Tip Roast
Stuffed Cabbage
Tricolor Gefilte Fish
Chicken Soup
Corned Beef
Matzoh Balls

I'll be back as soon as I wash all this stuff off my hands.....

(This was for YOU Naomi L. - I hope you're reading!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shopping Site Update

Because of the amazing response from you, my readers, to the recent offer posted on this blog, the kind folks at have "upped the ante" for those of you still sitting on the fence.

New customers, for a limited time, will receive a whopping 20% off on their first order, along with free 1-2 day shipping. I dare you to find a better offer out there ANYWHERE! Just use code SILV7629 at checkout.

I'd love it if all those who have ordered would comment as to their experiences in the comments section. My experience was flawless.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Kind Of Dating

My birthday(s) is/are coming up next week and that has gotten me thinking - a dangerous practice to be sure....

I've been told by people that I look younger than my chronological age (36...I have nothing to hide... ).

I have, on occasion, been mistaken for my daughter by acquaintences when she and I are not together, and for her sister by strangers when we are together {insert collective eye roll by my children here}.

Don't worry though. It appears that I 'date' myself in other ways.
It seems that I am the only person to still use the word "pocketbook" on occasion, and to still pay by check at the supermarket.
As techno savvy as I am, I don't text - - - EVER. (It makes me feel too "tween"-y).
I also don't use debit cards.
Oh, and I still hit the space bar two times after typing a period.

What dates you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rock The Vote

The gauntlet has been thrown down by N Joy, who, in a previous posting, left a request for my commentary on the new voting system.

Let me back up a bit. I am SO HAPPY that Primary Day is over here in New York. Why? Because now I will no longer come home to find my answering system choked with campaign messages supporting and endorsing criminals and urging me to come out and vote for them. I can now have dinner uninterrupted (until November) by pollsters and campaigners vying for a few moments of my time.

On to my review of the "new" system. Mind you that New York is (one of?) the last state(s) to comply with the mandate to overhaul the voting system. Years and years and *THIS* is the best they could come up with?!??!

Let's walk through it, shall we? First you enter the polling place and go to your regular (often toothless) election person (what are they called officially?). They invariably spell your name wrong. They then hand you a paper ballot (hooray for high technology!!!) and if you are really lucky, they even hand you the ballot for the party you are actually registered with (Who me? A Democrat?).

You are directed to a "privacy booth", which I must say is nicely outfitted with mini track lighting and one of those magnifier sheets (since the high tech {DID I MENTION PAPER?} ballots are printed in font size 8. There was also a cord, which I assume at one point held a pen, but by the time I voted around lunchtime, had already been disconnected and swiped (Joey informs me that he had to go through FOUR booths before finding one with an intact writing implement. The economy is rough, what can I say?).

All this privacy is for naught though, because I then joined the line of people waiting for the ONE AND ONLY functioning Scantron machine in the whole place. The plodding fellow who was selected for the plum assignment of manning this area, eyeballed my ballot carefully before directing me to insert it in the machine. (I was the lucky one - I heard from others that he plucked their ballots straight out of their hands and after perusing it (slowly) he inserted it himself). The machine then informs you that your vote has been counted (I sure hope the machine got it right, since it didn't bother to verify my selections). When I voted, the machine also gave me an error message about some jam, but Mr. SlowVote assured me that it was nothing to worry about - "Everybody gets that message because there's some jam inside. Until somebody can get inside and fix it, it's gonna keep saying that".

It seems that my polling place was better than most though.
Who won? Who cares?

All in all - 50 MILLION of my tax dollars - well spent {sigh}

Oh, did I see the guy campaigning illegally? questionably close to the polling place handing out complimentary pens?!?! Nah... couldn't be...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rosh Hashono and Beyond - Has It Been Three Days Already?

As I began the first draft of this Yom Tov wrap up post, I happened to check in on last year's post, only to discover that frankly, not all that much has changed...

Aside from the fact that Yom Tov was immediately followed by Shabbos this year and not ON Shabbos, everything else still rang true.
  • The table was still set with Avram's great-great-grandmother's linen. It was further enhanced by a flower arrangement that we designed after being inspired by a lovely table decoration we saw in the dining room on our recent trip to Olana.
  • I still relied HEAVILY on my "shalom bayis honey dish". (I'm going to have the sweetest year ever!)
  • I was still inspired by my husband's emotion filled davening - especially his rendition of "Unesaneh Tokef".
  • We had similar mixed reviews regarding the שהחינו fruits - pepino melons, by the way, taste a lot like cantaloupe. Oh, and on the bright side, this year's pomegranate was ruby red and delicious!
  • And believe it or not, one of my children still complained about our choice of Tashlich location (we passed the pumpkin, by the way...) - apparently it's not "the place to be". It seems though, that scores of other people were not privy to this information either.
Since we were lucky enough to have today a Sunday and not a work day, I was able to continue the inspiration gained through the tefillos of Rosh Hashanah by attending several shiurim this morning dedicated to teshuva and our awareness of Hashem.

And in the "Now this is all I'm going to say about that (...well... for now....)" category:
It seems to me to be a very dangerous thing for a Rabbi to take upon himself to say that he is confident that were a Gadol (whom he never met) alive today, this Gadol would pasken on a particular issue the exact OPPOSITE of what he actually paskened in his lifetime.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

K'Siva V'Chasima Tova

With profuse apologies for the dearth of posts this past week, due in part {cough, cough... entirely} to a hectic workload both at the office as well as at home, I'd like to wish all of you a K'siva V'Chasima Tova - a year of HEALTH, happiness, peace and nachas - and remind readers on both sides of the Atlantic to remember Eruv Tavshilin.

I do hope to post table photos later in the day (once the "experimental" flower arrangement that we ordered is picked up from the florist...).

For those interested in what Shehecheyanu fruits I've procured this year - here's the list:
Pomegranate (of course)
Figs (it wouldn't be Rosh Hashana for Avram without them)
Passion Fruit (my absolute FAVORITE)
Dragon Fruit (because it's so pretty when cut)
Cactus Pear (it looked so lonely...)
Pepino Melon (because I always want to try one thing I haven't tried before and this looked the least scary)

What did YOU buy?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My New Shopping Site Discovery

Those of you with little ones out there might already be familiar with, the 21st century convenient way to order diapers delivered straight to your home at a reasonable price online.

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Don't thank me.... I'm a giver.... ;)