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Showing posts from February, 2010

No more nummies, Birthday Girls!

Here they are!  My birthday sister and my birthday daughter.  Amazing.  Naomi’s birthday is usually more in between Sara’s and Abigail’s, but this year, they’re only 2 days apart.  Next year, it will be more like a few weeks, because it’s a leap year on the Jewish calendar. In this picture, Naomi is holding a much-coveted Barbie doll… now one of three (eek) in her brand-new collection.  She actually gasped and hugged the first one in amazement.  Numbers two and three, not so much.  Honestly, I think maybe she only needed one.  But now she owns three and a little closet to keep the clothes in.  Eek, and eek again. So our nummies is officially Over. No, not Abigail.  Ewww… Naomi had her last nummies on Thursday night at bedtime.  Friday morning when she woke up was not a big deal, because she hadn’t had it in the mornings for a while. Friday was a busy day and she didn’t need a nap.  Phew!  Friday night at bedtime was fine because it was late and she was exhausted. S

Six Word Saturday: 14 Adar, 5770 (Purim!)

    Happy Purim!  Love, your mother (Earth). (click the picture for an embarrassing close-up…)

Shabbos Food

Supper:  Out tonight at Mommy’s.  Bringing: Dessert – chocolate-filled rogelach (prepared puff-pastry squares with chocolate hamentash filling ) Corn One challah Lunch … I really must get going on this: Challah Broccoli Quiche Ted’s Special Pareve Cholent (Ted made it last night) Salsa-baked gefilte fish (Ted made it last night) Blintzes (store-bought, but Ted fried them up last night) Apple Compote Roasted zucchini & red peppers Pumpkin-Cranberry Streusel Spice Cake (spice cake from a mix)

Hamentastic Hamentashen – traditional and not-so-much

Traditional hamentashen (recipe here – yes, I did give this recipe only 3 stars for its extreme oiliness, but it turns out very sturdy hamentashen, which is my main criterion for packing..) But, in this year’s big Purim reveal :  in a fit of inspiration, I decided the gingerbread hamentashen should be filled not with pumpkin, as I’d originally planned (I even had the tin of filling right here, waiting, but with CHOCOLATE .  I found this great filling recipe that is almost a brownie, but still gooey enough to have the proper “filling-like” consistency. Elisheva, who does not like gingerbread very much (according to my review of the gingerbread recipe, last year she called it “medicine-y”), has officially proclaimed these delicious.  Chocolate and gingerbread… I didn’t think it could work, but my sister Sara suggested a few weeks ago that this was not such an unheard-of thing.  And then last night it came to me, and here they are. So thank you, Sara.  They truly are delicious,

Someone you know is being abused

I always thought teenagers were a joke; a cliché… I dunno.  Based on memories of my own teenagerhood, I figured they were more surly than little kids, more independent, less interested in their parents’ ideas.  “Whatever, mom.”  Right??? In this household, saying a teenager is sometimes surly is like saying alcoholics sometimes slur their words.  It is definitely true.  But it is also definitely the tip of the iceberg, because in addition to the almost cute slurring thing, alcoholics lose control to the extent that they damage property, abuse family members and often destroy any semblance of peace in their lives. There are more similarities than differences here. Surly, it seems, is a good day.  Like just a bit tipsy might be for an alcoholic. A bad day is more like today.  YM  comes home late but docile, subdued from lack of eating (it’s Taanis Esther today, the fast before Purim), goes straight downstairs to lie down or fiddle with his Rubik’s Cube, or whatever. Whereas

First hamentashen

Here are the first hamentashen of the year, going into the oven (yes, at 1 a.m.). Dough – an incredibly sticky oily dough that is murder to work with until it gets a bit floured up.   Didn’t help that I forgot the sugar.  Doh!  Poured it on top of the finished dough and did my best to mix it in with the hand mixer; dough was flying everywhere.  The final result was a bit crunchy but hopefully the sugar was evenly distributed and it will all come out good in the baking. Cookies – the classic prune lekvar filling from scratch with home-stewed prunes (ew!) and orange zest.   It is truly magical how they turn from cut-out circles into triangles.  I have been doing it so long, I forget how wonderful it is… and then I see the kids watching me and I catch myself out of the corner of my eye, folding them up quick quick quick and remember.  Circle… triangle!  Circle… triangle!  Amazing. Only one opening up a bit, as you can see here (2nd from the left on the bottom row of 4, startin

Purim Cards… Part 1

Because of the every-year craziness of Ted having to deliver 30-something shalach manos (mishloach manot) packages, plus the craziness of our list having expanded to almost fifty this year, I gave up. My white flag of submission is this postcard, which I mailed this morning to twelve of our not-so-nearest-and-dearest, mostly rabbis and people with whom we don’t have close social connections. In conjunction with creating these postcards and printing them out on dollar-store glossy inkjet paper, I also made a decent-sized (for us) donation to Tomchei Shabbos, a food bank organization here which distributes boxes of kosher food (boxes we received more than once, long ago). That donation is on top of our regular matanos l’evyonim – of course. It is a mitzvah to give tzedakah on Purim, but this is way more than we would have given ordinarily. The text reads: It’s not that we don’t love to come straight to your door It’s just that each year we have more friends and

The Indoor Growing Report!

See?  I’ve been good!  I haven’t updated since last Tuesday , even though I have tons of progress to report. So with no apologies, I offer this brief roundup of… how’s it growing ??? First, the teeny baby coleus (Wizard Sunset), after almost two weeks above the soil, now look like this: Not much bigger.  But there are more of them.  Bottom heat would have helped immensely, as I now know from the Black Dragon coleus I sowed at the same time as the herb seeds , a week ago last Sunday, which have all popped their heads up nicely.  They’re the back four Jiffy pucks in this tray: After the coleus, the other four rows are (back to front) flat parsley (kind of rooting), curly parsley (starting to sprout), Red Rubin basil (growing nicely), and Genovese basil (growing prodigiously in the front row). Finally, but not leastily, the annual flowers… the petunias and lobelia that were SO tiny when I posted just last Tuesday have filled in tremendously, as you can see. For the petun

Amazing leaf: Allen Gardens

This is a small section of a HUGE leaf.  You can see the tip of my thumb holding it down so I could take the picture.  I just find it so astonishing that not only is it elaborately quilted, it has a perfect “rolled” hem around its outside edge. Nice time had by almost all at Allen Gardens today.  Naomi got “stung” petting a cactus that looked like it had smallish fuzzy white spots on its pads.  In reality, each patch of “fuzz” was about a million tiny needles.  Who knew???  So she wailed the rest of the time there and part of the way home,with Gavriel Zev feeding her pretzels because her hands didn’t work.  Sara saw spines still in Naomi’s skin even after rinsing a couple of times from a water bottle, but we soaked and washed them well once we got home and I didn’t see anything.  They were still painful, apparently, but she managed to fall asleep in record time.  Gavriel Zev is still – almost an hour and a half later – lying in bed singing and cooing to his friends.  If he doesn’

Kosher Menu Plan Monday (kinda): 8 Adar, 5770

Better late than never, right? Monday (Ted’s late day):  Superstore chicken, farfel, corn, chicken soup… Tuesday:  Cheesy pasta bake of some kind, if we have cheese; otherwise a less-cheesy pasta thing.  Pasta was supposed to be Wednesday, to give me time to buy ricotta and cheese, but Ted wanted to switch so we didn’t have two meat nights in a row. Wednesday:  Chili (meat) with Cornbread on top (Ted’s special request) Thursday (Vegan Vursday!):    Hearty Vegetarian Stew with bread Shabbos:  At Mommy’s house… again!  My cousin’s in from out of town, so my mother’s making supper for everybody. So there you have it… a spectacular week’s worth of food!!!

It is weather outside today

Yesterday was spring; today, deep, deep winter.  My ASL class is cancelled.  Blah.

Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet (or not)

I have a line I use on my children when they’re complaining that the house is too noisy to do their homework, work on a dvar Torah, sit and read… or whatever.  It is a terrible line.  It’s the kind of line you should really only say once and then never, ever again. I tell them, “if they could ___ (whatever it is they’re complaining about) during the Shoah, then certainly you should be able to in our living room… even a noisy living room.” See?  Isn’t it terrible?  I really don’t use it all that often, I promise. Still, I wanted to use it today to say “take that, silly paintbrush-shaking man, coming out to tell me that my screaming baby – a boy, by the way, not a girl as you assume from his long, glamourous blonde tresses – is disturbing your art class.” I stick by what I told him:  clearly he has never been or had a child, because children make noise and there’s sometimes nothing you can do.  And I wanted to say, so THERE.  Because of the Shoah.  Isn’t that awful?  But

Seedy Sunday – the haul!

The first few shots are from the seed swap area alone… amazing!  What an incredible selection… and all free!  I was volunteering in the swap room for 2 hours, so I feel like I did my time and got amply paid. All the swap seed together:   Tomatoes only: Other vegetable seed:   No pictures of the packets of pea and bean seed, but there were quite a few. And then these are my “paid” purchases:  a couple of garlics, some zucchini seed… plus some neat knit-and-leather gardening gloves in return for a donation to the Perth-Dupont Community Garden .  That’s where the broken garlics (Music) below came from.  The whole garlic is from Cubits Organics. … and here’s Naomi Rivka, helping me plant it all!  Well, (l-r) Clematis virginiana, white boneset, nodding wild onion, blue false indigo and bluestem goldenrod.  All native species, though I’m not sure I will actually end up planting them all out.  The boneset does not look lovely, I must say.   The blue false indigo, actua

51st (Perennial) Kosher Cooking Carnival!

All things food and Jewish… and just in time for Purim! Since this issue’s theme is “venahafoch hu” (“and it was overturned”, ie Haman’s evil decree), let’s stop before we start to look back at PAST Kosher Cooking Carnivals (Editions 1 through 50): Here's a list: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , KCC Meta Carnival , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47, 48 , 49 , 50 … and I’m number 51 ! Click here before March 16 to send in a post for the next issue, to be hosted by Ima on (and off) the Bima . And now, let’s begin! To start us off all topsy-turvy, Phyllis Somer ( Ima on (& off) the Bima ) has been blogging her non-traditional experiments in hamentashen .  Gingerbread?  I say GO FOR IT! Speaking of gingerbread, if you crave the taste but don’t want it in hamentash form, Chana Rubin ( Healthy Kosher Eating

Six Word Saturday: 7 Adar, 5770

  Great movie; do I believe it…?

Shabbos cook, shabbos bake, have a little Shabbos cake!

Once again, Ted’s totally wrangled Shabbos this week, leaving me with mostly the baked goods. Here’s his food list (* next to Ted-made items): ~ Challah (me; new recipe, and don’t they look AMAZING this week???) ~ * Chicken soup (with kneidlach by ECH) ~ * Ted’s magic chipotle chicken ~ Green beans (guess I should figure out how I’m going to do them – maybe miso again) ~ Corn (always!) ~ Israeli toasted couscous; plain with onion ~ Chocolate-chip cookies ~ Banana cake by YM (yes, I know they both have chocolate chips… ) ~ * Apple Compote And then we’re out for lunch.  An old, old friend (more about her here ) who lives about 45 minutes’ walk from here called last night and asked if we’d come for lunch… how could I say no? All in all, so far a calm Friday afternoon!

Fw: Recent Developments at Dufferin Grove Park

Letter to:  Toronto ombudsperson; cc to Councillors Mihevc and Giambrone (isn't he in France right now???)   Read more background info here . Dear Ms Crean:   It's come to my attention that one of our family's most beloved Toronto spaces, Dufferin Grove Park, is in danger of losing its autonomy, placing its lively and creative relationship with surrounding communities in jeopardy.   Dufferin Grove Park could perhaps be seen as almost a model of what an urban park ought to be:  in an ideal central location serving many regions of the city, it seeks to involve a highly participatory community while fostering great working relationships with local artistic production companies, organic food vendors.  This park pulls off so many diverse endeavours it sometimes boggles the mind.  As anyone who's been there can attest, visiting Dufferin Grove Park is a totally different experience every single time.   Yet while this

Wet and… NOT dead!

I bought this fuchsia at the Toronto Plant Society sale last year.  It’s a miniature, Encliandra Fuchsia… its name will come back to me or you can search past posts for fuchsia if you’re crazy about them, too.  (last year was my Summer of Fuchsia Madness, but I still love them quite a bit!) (okay, I searched myself; it’s called encliandra “ Lottie Hobby ”) Anyway, they have an expression in emergency medicine, or at least, on the show ER, on which my sum total of ER knowledge is based (okay, also a bit on Grey’s Anatomy and House; these are the only 3 shows I watch these days)… the expression is:  “you’re not dead until you’re WARM and dead.”  Because apparently people are often brought in frozen and soggy and the first priority is warming them to normal body temperature, at which point often miracles happen and presumed corpses sit up and start speaking. Or whatever. Part of why I fell in love with fuchsias, besides the fact that they all (single, double, upright, mul

The Nanny, one year later

My mother wanted to do something for Nanny’s yahrzeit , which was last week.  So she decided to host a coffee hour in the church Nanny loved so much . Well, it turns out – doh! – this is not really a thing Christians do, observe –slash- celebrate the anniversary of a death. Apparently, the church actually did something, unprompted, on her birthday, back in November.  That, I guess, is the day they choose to observe, perhaps because it’s more upbeat than a death-anniversary.  I believe the minister, ever tactful, mentioned that they don’t do death-anniversaries “as well as you [Jews] do.” Anyway, they were a little bit mystified, but went along with the plan and even apparently sang “This Little Light of Mine” in her honour.  And my set up and served hosted coffee time, which I guess is the Presbyterian equivalent of making kiddush. I know this second-hand because I wasn’t there.  Just like I wasn’t there while she was alive.  And don’t I feel like a big fat hypocrite bec

When Christians celebrate “Biblical Feasts”: My Jewish Perspective

Other posts you may or may not want to read: When Christians celebrate “Biblical Feasts”: Take 2 When Christians celebrate “Biblical Feasts,” Part 3: When is Pesach? When Christians celebrate “Biblical Feasts” – ie, appropriate Jewish holidays and give them all kinds of marvellous messianic meanings. Ugh. As a homeschooler, it was inevitable that I’d come across homeschool materials offering information about “Biblical feasts” – which is what Christians call our holidays. (despite the fact that at least one – Chanukah – isn’t mentioned in the Bible) (okay, except the Catholic Bible, which did canonize the book of Maccabees) There are also all kinds of homeschool materials purporting to teach Hebrew and other information about Shabbat and holidays, always with the helpful Christian perspective. I read a post recently on a homeschool list mentioning a book which would be useful for sharing these “Biblical feasts” with Christian homeschooled kids. Even t

Oh, gosh…

A new low.  I originally opened up this window just to post that it’s 9:30 and I still have to put these kiddies to bed. And then, suddenly, it was 9:33 and Ted was unexpectedly home (he was planning to go straight to grocery shopping from his pottery class) amid the chaos and, well, it sure didn’t reflect well on me, the alleged grown-up in charge. But there you have it.  Does this make me negligent?  My kids sleep late in the morning, have a late-afternoon nap and stay up late?  Are we any lazier than people who wake up early, have an early nap and get to bed early?  Many homeschoolers would say that this is the schedule that works for us… so why does it feel so WRONG to be putting a 2-year-old to bed at 10 p.m.???

Woman without social skills seeks Shabbos guests

Last Shabbos, walking home from with a couple of women from the neighbourhood… “we really don’t have much of anything, the house is kind of a mess, the kids are sick and I’m exhausted… hey, do you want to come for lunch???  We’d really love to have you!” Somehow, I have become the queen of the backhanded invitation.  If you can get past the reluctance to invite, and the awful way the invitation is usually worded, what I think people usually end up with is a really nice meal, with plenty of food and happy times all around the table. And the truth is, I love having guests.  That’s why I try to make Ted do all the inviting.  I don’t know how he does it:  probably just walks up to the person and says, “hey, do you want to come over for lunch?” Because it always works out; I just shouldn’t think through all the negatives out loud in front of the prospective guest.  I should think to MYSELF the parts about not enough food (because there is always enough) or the one dish that didn’

Bear with me, please!

It is just SO exciting when things begin to grow.  I get over it in a month or two, and by the time the world outside is fully green, I  have settled back down to kind-of-normal. In the meantime… I am thrilled to report that thanks to bottom heat, the basil I just planted on SUNDAY (yup, that’s two days ago ) is getting ready to sprout. Stuff like basil and parsley are okay to start early; they won’t suffer or get too leggy growing indoors.  Tomatoes really must wait ‘till Aprilish.  Yup.  They must.  (let’s see how well I can do at holding out). Meanwhile, more exciting news from the petunia / lobelia patch!  These teeny tiny seeds have come through and, while not as prodigious as my two-day basil, are poking up their heads at a completely respectable 9 days.  (I just had YM google germination times last night and both can sprout at anywhere between 10-20 days, so NINE is just fine by me!). (I have provided a 2x magnified view of each of the sprouts in question, but th

Tired-Word Tuesday: ARTISAN

In the grocery store today, I found a package of “artisan lettuce.”  Apparently, this is a real thing . Only certain things can be made by artisans… others, well, they just grow that way.  I’m sorry, but ARTISAN and PREMIUM are not the same word, last I checked. Plus, what does this mean for the word ARTIST?  Must everybody artistic now be an artisan?  I don’t know if Ted wants to switch to producing artisanal paintings or pottery. What word is driving you crazy today???

Parsha for Toddlers!

I hope I didn’t post about this before… but I’m getting old, so bear with me if I have already. I’ve been searching for a long time for GOOD English-language parsha resources for young children, partly for my own kids and partly for this weekly Shabbos party I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get off the ground for a few weeks (how do you say “discouraged” in Hebrew?). Finally, a couple of weeks ago, discovered a site called Torat Imecha (which used to be the name of a ladies’ parsha sheet) that offers a series of little 8-page “books” on each parsha. The booklets are perfectly geared to the 2-5 year-old crowd, with colour photos (there’s also a black and white version) and text that puts everyday family situations any kid can relate to into the context of the actions and intentions of Hashem and B’nei Yisrael in the Torah.   For example, in Parshas Pinchas, a girl doesn’t want to go to preschool and leave her dolls behind; just as Moshe didn’t want to leave Bnei Yisrael behin

More planties! First herbs in…

First herbs, plus more coleus.  I sorted out my extensive seed collection in anticipation of next week’s Seedy Sunday, and discovered a few Black Dragon coleus seed from last April.  I still cannot believe how many coleus I’ve lost this winter, though with the heating pad now running downstairs to start these herb seeds, I ought to be able to keep things going from this point. So you can kind of make out the masking-tape row labels in this flat, but I’ll tell you anyway (The coleus row is one short because that’s all the Jiffy pucks I had left over!  Must buy more tonight!)… From left (1 column of each):  Black Dragon Coleus (4 pucks); flat parsley (for bugs to eat), curly parsley (for us to eat), Red Rubin Basil, Genovese basil. Like I said, these are sitting in their own light on the heating pad on the downstairs-kitchen counter, so they should do just fine.  I realize herb seeds probably don’t need bottom heat, but with the temperatures still very cool down there, it can’t hu

Mental illness is like a miscarriage

Everybody has one…  and nobody talks about it until you’ve had one yourself. Okay, with mental illness, it’s not always themselves who have had it, but everybody I talk to these days has someone in their family who has dealt with it (or is still).  And nobody mentions it until I do.  Why? The stories are all so similar to Eli’s… bright young people, by and large, in their early- to mid-twenties.  Usually post-university, but not always.  They usually survive, but not always.  Mental illness is more deadly than most people think. I don’t know if any of this makes me feel better.  Is it okay that I find him just plain annoying most of the time??  Does that make me a worse person?  I am almost always kind… yet also almost always impatient as anything. Today is a sleepy day.  I am simply not going to think about it anymore.

Menu Plan Monday: 1 Adar, 5770

I created a pretty comprehensive master list of everything we eat and then I handed it to Elisheva, and told her to pick anything. Pretty predictable:  she chose an all-out  steak supper, pea soup, herb bread, oven-roasted potatoes; the works.  So now I have to figure out when to fit that in; tough in a money-tight week, but we’ll find a way.  Probably Wednesday, which works well because it’s also her early day home from school. Monday:  Buttery/beery onion soup with breadsticks, scalloped potatoes w/fake crab & mushroom soup.  SOUP DISASTER!  Something (the strong-flavoured beer?) made the soup really bitter and after over an hour of preparing it, I had to throw the whole thing away and prepare…  Emergency miso soup:  four cups of water with chicken soup mix, boiled, turn off heat, toss in four cut-up green onions, 4 tbsp dark red miso (whisking the miso into half a cup of plain water first so it doesn’t clump).  Whisk, serve with a dot of toasted-sesame oil… delicio

Six Word Saturday: 30 Shevat, 5770

Rosh Chodesh:  Be happy, it’s Adar!!!

Shabbos food by Ted!

Yes, a husband who makes Shabbos… amazing!  All I had to make was dessert and some kind of rice salad (frantically googling as I write this to find one!). We’re at my mother’s for Shabbos dinner this week, and here’s what Ted has in store for lunch. ~ Cholent ~ Chicken Balls Broccoli Salad Green Salad (lettuce) Turkey pastries (by ECH) Challah (by me!) Sliced meats Rice dish salad (by me, when I find one) Cherry / blueberry tarts Chocolate mousse dessert. Good Shabbos, everybody!!!

Fed the worms… happy worms…

Hum along to that Beatles song; how does it go?  “I fed the worms today; oh, boy…” So!  With much apprehension (quite warranted, given that I have not even looked at the worms in the worm bin downstairs since maybe November), I armed myself today to face the worm bin. Worm Feeding Supplies:  orange peel, cut-up pear, gloves, shredded newspaper. As with most things, the reality was not as scary as I had feared.  Yes, the box is full of material that is mostly  broken down and requires sorting.  But it can probably wait ‘till spring. The box is definitely not running optimally anymore, but then, these conditions have been far from optimal.  There are not as many worms as there should be, and the range of sizes is not as great as it should be (in a happy worm bin, you should see worms of all different sizes, ie ages). But there are still worms.  Hundreds and hundreds of them, I’m sure.  All you need is a few to ramp  back up to full operation in a relatively short period of t