Monday, February 28, 2011

What Do I Know About Sacrifice?!?!

This morning our Tante Lotte joined our Uncle Marc in the Olam HoEmes after living a rich life spanning over 93 years.

When I think about Uncle Marc and Tante Lotte, I am humbled by the sacrifices that they made during the War to save themselves and preserve their mesorah. I am embarrassed by the little stresses that "throw me" day after day, when I think of the fact that one Shabbos morning, when the Nazis knocked on the door looking for Uncle Marc, they quickly picked up and LEFT EVERYTHING BEHIND.

EVERYTHING. In the blink of an eye. They just picked up and left. Though they never abandoned their commitment to Torah and Mitzvos. Posing as Gentiles in the farmlands of France, this was not easy, I assure you.

Do we know of such sacrifices today?
Speaking for myself, I get undone by far smaller things.

And yet - we can take away beauty from their nightmare as well. After the war, Uncle Marc and Tante Lotte rebuilt their family here in America and although they suffered through one of the darkest times in Jewish History, they did not let that define them. They raised a family in a home filled with Torah learning, acts of Chessed, Hachnosas Orchim and Avodas Hashem. They were HAPPY. They had NACHAS.

When we struggle through stormy times, it bears pondering that there will be light again. We should all weather our trials and tribulations with the same commitment and dignity as this couple did and merit the joys and happiness that await us at the other end of the tunnel, until we merit the ultimate joy - the Geulah.

Tehi Zichro Boruch

Friday, February 25, 2011

Food Photo Friday - Hamantaschen

Over the course of this week, I managed to bake over 8 dozen hamantaschen.
Though my family would be perfectly happy with the status quo, every year, to satisfy my own creative side, I always try to make one "something different" flavor, in addition to our traditional prune and apricot. There are no poppy seed ("mohn") hamantaschen in our house because if Avram's immune system even gets a whiff of them, he won't NEED a Purim costume ... his distorted features will easily qualify.
I've attempted raspberry (too runny).
I toyed with chocolate and chocolate nut (a combination I really wanted to make work, but nobody seemed to enjoy).
This year I chose lemon/lime.
Early indications seem to show that although they lack color contrast, the tangy flavor is a hit. In fact, there may be none left by Rosh Chodesh Adar II unless I rush them into the freezer PRONTO.

What did I miss most this year?
The fact that all the little ones are grown, or nearly so.
No more eager little tongues darting out to test if the filling had cooled down enough. (Though there were still plenty of fingers swiping the goods the minute my back was turned....)
Ah, but it seems like yesterday ......

(DD1 at just about the age that HER OWN DD1 is now...)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

YRSRH Annual Dinner - My Post Mortem

There's got to be a better way.
This is a WORTHY institution.
This institution needs money.
But that doesn't mean that we can't do things better.
I understand that in recent years we have had to do away with the sit down dinner in favor of buffet style in order to cut costs, but why not put the forks where the food is??? And don't tell me that it is to encourage the people to sit at their assigned tables once they have their food, because the spoons WERE at the buffet tables!! Consistency please, folks.
In addition, if you want to encourage people to sit down with their dinner, give them plates that hold more than two bites. Nobody likes to wend their way through an entire ballroom to arrive at their table and eat a morsel and then run back for more (unless they're going back for a spoon anyway).

And don't get me started on Viennese Tables. Some people I know refer to them as Vietnamese Tables because the way people rush the goods, you'd think they were at war. (Boy are you lucky I'm not posting pics of the people who got a head start on dessert during the speeches! But you know who you are.....)

But by far one of my biggest gripes was the dais. I feel that before putting people on the dais it is important to verify TWO things:
(a) That they are indeed showing up (this applies similarly for brochos under the chuppah by the way) and
(b) that they plan to stay for bentching (which took place at the completely reasonable hour of 8:30 pm, it should be noted.)
Why should guests feel that it is imperative to attend and/or stay at a fundraiser when those people that the institution honors the most, don't find it important enough to do the same?
A dais should DEFINITELY NOT look like this during bentching!

What I liked about the Dinner:

The Dinner was well timed and the program flowed and moved.

I liked the presentation to Rabbi A. Farber - a well deserved honor.

I liked the quote from a Yeshiva science teacher recounted by the Guest of Honor, KAJ President, Avram Cahn, who said at a parent's orientation, "If the children don't come out of this year saying Asher Yotzar with more kavanah, I have failed as their teacher". THAT'S Torah Im Derech Eretz!

There was a very nice presentation honoring the PTA.

A lot of people worked very hard on the event and deserve much gratitude.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's Been A While Since The Last Table Photos

It's "Girls Night" at the Gs this week.
Poor Avram and Joey :D

Food Photo Friday - Tzipora's 1st Birthday

A recent issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine featured this lovely inspiration for my dear granddaughter Tzipora's first birthday cake.
I think DD1 outdid herself, thanks in part to FSIL/OSIL and his suggestion to add interest by laying the lentils on a diagonal.
This cake design is perfect for the busy mom, who may not have time to fuss with piping and icing and other fine work, but wants to create something special that makes a statement.
Pora sure liked it!!! :D

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More On The Shmooze

Go check out Hadassah's Blog for her post-mortem of the Shmooze - WITH PHOTOS!
(One by me and one of me)
{ Though I'm not entirely sure that either one of those is an incentive...}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All Shmoozed Out

Tonight I attended the MetroImma Social Media Shmooze.

More precisely, this was a panel discussion on how kosher brands and the kosher food industry are using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to market their products. and to connect with their customers.

The panel, was moderated by Corporate Communications Pro, Stephanie Grayson-Zane and featured Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker, Tamar Genger of, Kim Amzallag from Kosher Inspired magazine and Yossie Horwitz of The event was sponsored by MetroImma and its sister web site,,, Cherry Heering and U Café.

I came home completely energized with lots of new ideas and opportunities for this blog. Paula's new cookbook The Kosher Baker, is AMAZING (and all pareve!!)

I had a nice chat with Alison Nathan, wife of the well known Chef Jeff Nathan of Abigael's restaurant and I'm not saying anything, but we might have a few surprises in store for all you foodies out there.

I sampled some rich and creamy Coffee Heering. Did you know that a 100 year old bottle of Cherry Heering recently sold at Sotheby's for over $3,000!!! That's a lot of nostalgia right there!

Kim, from the brand new and highly acclaimed Kosher Inspired magazine, gave me several copies of their second issue to peruse and I'm trying to figure out just how to provide all my readers an opportunity to have a look at issue #3, which just came off the presses in Israel tonight. Do I smell a giveaway?

And the cherry on the sundae of this wonderful evening of networking and shmoozing? I finally at long last got to meet Hadassah in real life. Let me tell you that she's just as "real" in person as she is on her blog.

Stay tuned for more news about these and other brands!

Man vs. Computer Day 2 - THIS IS GETTING SCARY

via Joey, once again.......

0:00 – Day 2! Now with brand-new YouTube Time Stamps! For only 3 easy payments of 19.95! Snuggie not included.

1:40 – It’s funny how Deep Blue is now considered obsolete. It’s actually in museums. According to Wikipedia: “One of the two racks that made up Deep Blue is on display at the National Museum of American History in their exhibit about the Information Age; the other rack appears at the Computer History Museum in their "Mastering The Game: A History of Computer Chess" exhibit.” That’s right. The supercomputer is already obsolete. And you people who remember Betamax though you were the only ones who feel old…

3:20 – Natural language is a human artifact. That’s not something you think about as that special but it’s true. Simply being able to “get” what another person is saying is one of those amazing things that we just don’t think about much because it’s so routine.

5:13 – It’ll be interesting to see how Watson does with a category with quotations. Has he been programmed to “know” that every answer must include the word “church” or “state.”

5:54 – Watson still has trouble with pronunciations, making mistakes on “Dengue” and “Brute”

6:47 – Great comedic timing by Trebek. If Watson goes on to win the Challenge by a dollar now I will officially be terrified.

8:02 – Watson’s been programmed with betting strategies so he knows that he’s dominating and doesn’t need to risk much. Side note: I like how they programmed him to comment on when he’s not sure. Nice touch.


0:01 – So Watson is just dominating. It’s not that Ken and Brad don’t know the answers, a machine just has better timing. The potential uses for Watson are pretty amazing. This editorial from the Boston Globe elaborates a bit.

1:08 – The diagnosis potential sounds pretty cool. Watson as a life saver. Sounds pretty plausible and exciting.

4:25 – Ken and Brad are clearly getting frustrated. Nobody likes losing badly, not even in an exhibition.

5:29 – It’s probably not funny if you have it, but narcolepsy has got to be a funny thing see in person. Especially if it involves cataplexy – falling asleep caused by strong emotion. That guy’s never going to win a heated argument. But on the plus side, he will have an easier time “chilling out” and relaxing afterwards.

6:43 – This isn’t even a classic Final Jeopardy, but it is difficult because if you don’t have the knowledge, it’s a tough bunch of databases to mix. Ken and Brad both got it quickly I’m sure because airport names are a fun trivia topic and there are only so many cities that have two large airports and even less that have their biggest named for a WW II Hero. I didn’t know that Midway Airport was named for the Battle of Midway, but I did know that Chicago O’Hare had its name changed from Orchard Field (which is why the airport code is still ORD) to honor Butch O’Hare, the WW II flying ace. But Watson can’t really take the “hint.” In the question and that’s why he’ll have a tougher time.

7:59 – Why Toronto? A good explanation here.

Watson, however, is smart enough not to bet a lot, which leaves it to Ken and Brad to find some fortuitous Daily Doubles if they’re going to even have a chance at keeping this close. But the computer, it appears, is just too quick.

OK, G6 here again - back with one bit of my own personal commentary. I find it amusing that even with WATSON involved, they feel the need for the "privacy screens". We wouldn't want the computer peeking, now would we?

Wednesday's Wacky Signs - OUCH!!!

Hat Tip: Yekke Wannabe

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Congratulations To The Lucky Winner

The winner of the giveaway, chosen by random number generator and overseen by Joey for honesty's sake (no offense, but I so wanted BLD to win - not just b/c his comment was hilarious - but b/c then I'd find out who he is.....), is......

drumroll please..........





Doobie, please email me your mailing address and your prize choice, and I'll forward it to
Those of you who didn't win, feel free to shop using this blog's unique discount code.
P.S. to Doobie - If you want to review your prize on this blog, send it on in!!! (the review, not the prize, that is.....)

Man vs. Machine

I've posted before on my fascination with technology and how it is changing our world at an exponential rate. This week, technology and computing are pushing the envelope yet again.

As you know, Joey is a big fan of the game show Jeopardy!. He hopes one day to be a (winning) contestant.

Last night, the first of three consecutive nights, Jeopardy! featured two previous champions competing against IBM's cutting edge software WATSON. Watson is an artificial intelligence program developed by IBM designed to answer questions posed in natural language. For those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of this software, more information is available here (and of course, there's always Wikipedia). The implications for practical uses are mind-boggling.

For those interested, Joey has agreed to share his running commentary with us over the next three days. I have included the videos so you can "Watch along with Joey".

7:00 – Here we go. Man vs. Machine. Humanity vs. Computer. And to top it all off there’s an element of "Us vs. Them" to this matchup. There’s got to be something that computers just can’t do, right? Right???

7:02 – Brad Rutter isn’t as well known as Ken Jennings but he is quite the champion as well. Brad played originally in the days where you didn’t keep going until you lost. You got a car after 5 wins and a spot in the Tournament of Champions. The reason Ken got to go 75 days is because his season was the first to abolish the limit.

7:08 – Look, Watson changes colors depending on how he feels! Watson is a mood ring. With a thumb. Who sweats. So basically he’s a really smart but nervous teenager from the 70s.

7:09 – Yes! I got the first question and Watson didn’t! Joey 1 – Computer 0!

7:12 – Watson 10 – Joey 1.

7:14 – Ah, the oddness of Watson. He knows all about black holes but he can’t get the Harry Potter question that most 12-year-olds would answer with ease…

7:18 – I like that fake practice host! Maybe he’s Alex Trebek’s understudy. If he works hard on his holier-than-thou voice and his fancy accents he could be ready to go in a few years.

7:19 – Haha! 97% sure of nothing Watson! How’re you going to take over the world with that kind of mistake. There definitely seems to be something on the line here for the “pre-computer generation.” My father continues to express his disapproval when the computer does well and when I called my grandmother to ask if she was watching, her first words were: “I don’t like it.”
We’ll see if more people express the sentiment that Watson is “unnatural” or “wrong” depending on how well he does. (Or you could post your feelings in the comment section. I’m not real sure how that works but feel free.)

7:20 – Who is Klaus Barbie and did he get mocked for his name during his trial? Did he murder someone who made fun of his ridiculous name? Note to self: Wikipedia that.

7:21 – And Watson, like every other teenager, fails to listen. At least we have one thing in common. Also, I love how Trebek criticizes Watson. It’s a computer Alex! It can’t hear you! It’s not a person! Then again, I’m the one calling Watson “him” every other sentence…

7:22 – Hey! Watson and I got the same wrong answer. I don’t know if I should feel validated in my wrongness or not… Watson seems to be having a lot of trouble with this decades category. I wonder why…

7:23 – This is some good trivia. Because the host country goes last in the Parade of Nations while Greece goes first because they were the originators of the Olympics. In 2004, Greece hosted the Games so they split the difference. Their flag went in first but the team walked in last. Also there is a grave of one “Eleanor Rigby” in the graveyard where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. IIRC, McCartney claimed not to remember the gravestone but it’s still a funky coincidence at the very least.

7:27 – So the humans are keeping it close. If this running diary seems a little awkward, that’s probably because I’ve never really done it before. I’ll try to get better for the next two days. I’d like to note a couple things after Day 1 though:
  1. Watson hasn’t faced a lot of wordplay and hints yet. That’s where a computer might struggle and a champion like Ken or Brad might thrive.
  2. I think Final Jeopardy will be crucial in these two games. FJ often contains one big “hint.” If you figure it out, the answer can come rather easily. But if you miss it, you’re in trouble. If Watson really can grasp nuances of natural language, his database should be able to pick out the right answer after figuring out the hint. If not, he’ll lose a golden opportunity. Personally, I think that if he gets both Final Jeopardys, Watson will win.
  3. My prediction: Watson over Ken then Brad. But not by much…The computers have work to do yet before they can take over the world…
OK, folks. What do YOU think? Where do you predict this will lead? Is it a good thing overall, or not?

Last Call - MyHeadcoverings Giveaway

Reminder to all my readers:
Today is the last day to enter the contest.
The winner will be announced some time tomorrow.
Good luck to all!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Food Photo Friday - Parshas Tetzaveh

No I didn't make this.
Pragmatic Attic gets all the credit, but I loved it so much that I just had to get permission to share it with you.
What a clever idea for a parsha dessert - a Choshen!
Check out her blog and see how she researched and made it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Update On MyHeadcoverings.Com Giveaway - Choose Your Prize

Exciting news regarding my giveaway post!
The lovely people at have agreed that the winner of the WiGrip can actually CHOOSE her prize. The winner may choose ANY IN STOCK ITEM of equal or lesser value.
That gives you a LOT of leeway.
So what are you waiting for?
Go to the website - choose your favorite item - AND YOU MAY JUST WIN IT!!!!

Due to the change in terms, I am also extending the time to enter until Tuesday night at 10 pm (NYC Eastern Time).
Good luck to all!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review and Giveaway - For the Ladies

When I was contacted by the lovely folks over at to do a review of some of their products, I'm not sure if they knew what they were getting into.

You see, I wear sheitels almost EXCLUSIVELY. It was always something that I took for granted that I would do and I never really liked how I looked in anything else (well - except those "Ascot style" hats that I sometimes wear to shul on top of a sheitel which make Avram very happy ... did I ever tell you the story how when we were in England, Jennifer's carry-on bag was relegated to checked baggage so that I could bring home the biggest hatbox EVER from Marks & Spencer? I wasn't the only one who benefited though ... since Jen's knapsack became checked baggage, we were able to fill it with liquid, in the form of several bottles of Tesco Peach Seltzer for Michael.... two more things to add to this post).
But I digress.... (don't I always?)....Even at home I've been known to cook (yes, even strawberry fluff and LATKES!) with my "hair on".

Because of this, I don't buy snoods or tichels very often and the few I do own are certainly not the height of fashion. So the downside for this review is that I'm not "up" on the latest styles. The upside is that I'm a clean slate with no preconceived notions. has an extremely extensive selection, so when they asked me to choose which tichels they should send me for a review, I described to them my style sense and told them to "surprise me". They sent me a classic snood, which is very similar to what I've been wearing up until now, a cotton blend snood and a feather light appliquéd pre-tied.

The classic snood was just what I expected - classic, comfortable, and a bit prettier than what I have at home already due to the lace overlay. The fabric was also a bit different than I was used to because it had a nice 'texture' to the weave as well. I have only positive things to say about this product, but I was eager to try something a little different.

So on I went to the cotton blend snood. They told me that this snood was designed with a seam that can be worn in 2 ways. With the seam running from forehead to neck, or from ear to ear. Each way has it's own look (ear to ear is fuller at the sides and forehead to neck is longer in back.) They further warned me that the seam will look bumpy when you first put it on as this snood really needs to be broken in. The reason they chose to send it is because many people find it incredibly light and comfortable for sleeping in as well as cooking in a hot kitchen. Well, I liked the look of the seam running ear to ear, so the stretching out was not an issue as far as looks was concerned. I found this snood to be a bit tight, which has the advantage that it really doesn't slide around too much. It pretty much stays put. But I do hope (and assume) that it "gives" a little with wear and becomes a bit looser. It would be AMAZING right out of the box for somebody with a very small head. I did like the simplicity and lightness of this one but it didn't "wow" me ( I don't think that's what this one was intended for, though.)

Now the pretied was another story. I LOVED IT. It was super-quick to put on, lightweight - it stayed in place without digging - and I thought it looked decent on me (remember .... from me that's a RAVE). I might even be willing to cook in it ;)

But don't let my stodginess hold YOU back. This website has many more interesting items from snoods to berets to hats, not to mention scarves both tied and untied, along with clips and barrettes. It's worth checking out and the people there that I dealt with were very friendly. They are located in Lakewood but ship worldwide. I like the fact that their shipping fees are very low.

Now what would a review be without a giveaway? We will be giving away a Milano WiGrip to one lucky reader. The WiGrip is a new way to keep your wig or scarf from slipping without clips or combs that might be too tight for some. It's a headband by Milano Collection that is worn under a wig or scarf and secures it in place with a no slip grip. It eliminates headaches, prevents bald spots and is an adjustable one size fits all. If you'd like a chance to win this product, simply visit and leave a comment here telling me what your favorite product is. A second way to win is to "Like" My Headcoverings on Facebook, and come back and leave me a comment letting me know that you did. The contest ends this Sunday night at 10 pm and the winner will be announced in the comments section after a random drawing.

In addition, as an extra gift to all my blog readers, My Headcoverings has set up a coupon code just for the readers of this blog. Simply enter the code "Dinner" at checkout, for 10% off your entire purchase. This code will be valid for the next 10 days.

Exciting news!
The lovely people at have agreed that the winner of the WiGrip can actually CHOOSE her prize. The winner may choose ANY IN STOCK ITEM of equal or lesser value.
That gives you a LOT of leeway.
So what are you waiting for?
Go to the website - choose your favorite item - AND YOU MAY JUST WIN IT!!!!

Due to the change in terms, I am also extending the time to enter until Tuesday night at 10 pm (NYC Eastern Time).
Good luck to all!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Food Photo Friday - Bonus Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Edition

While I've heard it said that some people customarily make 2 kugels on Shabbos Rosh Chodesh (one for each Sefer Torah that is read from?), others merely try to make special foods in honor of this occasion. (I personally am covering all my bases. I've got Carolyn's Sweet Noodle Kugel on the menu, along with my yummy Butternut Squash Kugel AND I made what follows)

DD1 told me that in her area one can purchase Chocolate Chip Challah, and when served warm from the oven on Friday night, the gooey chips are a sinful treat. So I figured, "Why not for Shabbos Rosh Chodesh?".

I scoured the internet and settled on this recipe.
Looks good enough for dessert, doesn't it ;) ?

Food Photo Friday - Susie vs. Jamie

I made this yummy concoction LAST WEEK (that little note is for those people who might be tempted "drop by" for dessert "on their way to learning", based upon my Food Photo Fridays. I mean, not that this week is anything to sneeze at - we've got Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mousse Pie on the menu).

Susie Fishbein's Teens and Twenty Somethings had a tempting recipe for Chocolate Tart In Pretzel Crust. Unfortunately for us "desserts only on Shabbos" folks, it was dairy and "Parve-izing" it would involve changing too many major ingredients for my liking.

A friend of mine said she had tried Jamie Geller's (of Quick and Kosher fame) Chocolate Pretzel Crust Tart, but found the crust too crumbly and not staying with the tart.

So I decided to have a Susie/Jamie throwdown!
Susie's crust filled with Jamie's parve chocolate filling.
The results?

Well let's just say that by the time Shalosh Seudos rolled around I had to stand guard at the fridge to ensure that there'd be something to photograph after Shabbos!!!

Stay tuned.
There may be a bonus SECOND edition of Food Photo Friday today!

UPDATE: I'm a tiny bit embarrassed to admit that all this talk of chocolate tarts in pretzel crust created a craving in me that I couldn't ignore. After I wrote this post, I decided to make this again this week in addition {sheepish grin}.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Scene Around Town - Snowy Day In The Heights

Thanks to ever vigilant (and arguably #1 fan) blog reader Yekke Wannabe.
Not only did he volunteer (Again! What a winter!) to deliver meals for my senior center to those seniors who were afraid to venture out, but he also snapped this photo for me.
Isn't it cute? Anybody want to guess where it is? You actually have a fighting chance because Yekke Wannabe can't play ;) .

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow - a harbinger for early spring....

In MY neck of the woods, it could be argued that he didn't see his shadow BECAUSE HE COULDN'T GET HIS HEAD OUT FROM UNDER ALL THAT SNOW AND ICE!!!

You know I'm not into "segulos" of any kind, but I sure hope he's right.

Wednesday's Wacky Signs

Not really such a wacky idea, truthfully.
A little parental responsibility is not such a bad thing.
But poor Mrs. Ginsburg, with her 4 little ones, can't go shopping on a Motzoei Shabbos unless Mr. Ginsburg comes along.....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Easy" Mitzvos

A friend and I once had a discussion on this point which changed the way I view things, and I thought I'd throw it out to my readership.

I believe that Hashem grants us all special talents and abilities and we should all consider how we can best use those gifts to benefit others. Different strong points make different mitzvos easier for different people.

It is my feeling that everyone should explore their own individual talents and concentrate on performing acts of chessed and mitzvos that utilitze their strong points. These "easy" mitzvos can benefit the lives of others greatly. Some people are of the belief that mitzvos don't "count" as much if they're the "easy" ones. They say that a person gets more reward for the mitzvos are difficult to perform.

What are YOUR thoughts on this?