Sunday, June 29, 2008



I just had to share this with you. One day when I was in a real bind - guests were coming and there was not a piece of cake or a cookie in the house - I called Marallyn in a panic. Really - who else do I call when I'm in a panic? What to do - what to do? And she gave me the following recipe. As a matter of fact - I used it the other day when I had - literally - 30 minutes from the time I walked into the house at 7:00 PM until my very unexpected guests were showing up at 7:30 PM. Talk about short notice.


Melt 150 gr. butter or margarine with 100 gr. bittersweet chocolate. Mix well to combine. (NOTE: 456 grams = 1 pound. 150 gr = just over 5 ozs. 100 gr = 3 1/2 ozs.)

Add in following order - mixing after each addition:
1 Cup sugar
2 large eggs - lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Cup flour (sift flour & cocoa together over mixture)
1/2 Cup cocoa - unsweetened

Optional additions - total of 1 Cup
chopped nuts
dried cherries
chocolate chips
white chocolate chips

Grease an 8" x 8" glass baking dish and put in mixture

Put in microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes - check for "doneness". If not done, bake in 30-second increments until done. Depending on your microwave oven, you should not need more than 5 minutes total. The mixture should not be completely dry.

Remove from oven - let stand 2 1/2 minutes - then cover with plastic wrap.

Cut into squares when cool.

NOTES: (1) If you have a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in that. Then just add the other ingredients and mix with a whisk or a large wooden spoon or a large spatula. No need for an electric mixer. (2) Line your glass baking dish with baking paper - bottom and sides. When it's time to cut the brownies, lift the paper out of the baking dish and place on a cutting board - it's much easier to cut into squares on a flat surface.

Incidentally, Marallyn gave me the recipe without the chocolate (only with the cocoa) and the vanilla. It's much tastier with. I mention margarine in place of butter only if you keep kosher and want to serve this after a meat meal. "Butta is betta." (Thanks, Mike Meyers.)

These also freeze well and then go into the microwave for a few seconds when you want to serve at a later date. However - did you ever eat frozen brownies straight from the freezer? One of life's guilty pleasures - believe me.

Yalla, Bye.

Saturday, June 21, 2008



The other day I went to the butcher to buy a chicken. Now why is this so important? Because I discovered something about being an American - albeit an American / Israeli.

There are many butchers in Jerusalem but I only shop at a few of them - the creme-de-la-creme - you should excuse a dairy expression in a blog about meat. I sometimes shop at Yankele - who is married to an American and understands how Americans like their meat cut. So that when I ask for a first-cut brisket he knows exactly what I want. Then there is "Vered HaTzela" - which is a beautiful clean shop with beautiful clean meat - but the butchers aren't particularly friendly - although Ros does buy the most delicious entrecote roasts there - at a price that doesn't leave you with sticker shock.

Then there is Shuk Machane Yehuda (the outdoor market) where I usually buy my chickens and chicken parts - including feeselach (chicken feet) which you can't find anywhere else.

And finally - but most important - there are the Shoshani Brothers located in the Moshava (the German Colony) - across the road from my favorite cafe - "Caffit". Chaim and Rami - the Shoshanis - are the antithesis of any butchers you have ever seen. Both are tall and good-looking and are always immaculately dressed and coiffed and manicured. They don't wear aprons - they don't even wear white butcher's coats. And there is never a spot of blood or meat or fat on them - they might as well be hairdressers - so beautifully turned out are they. And that is where I do most of my meat shopping as well as ordering my turkeys for Thanksgiving.

So the other day I happened to be at the Post Office around the corner and decided to buy a whole chicken and was too lazy to drive all the way to the shuk - so I went into "Shoshani" for the bird.

Now - I have to digress for a minute and tell you about chickens in Israel. You can buy whole chickens - chicken parts - chicken innards - skinless, boneless chicken breasts and thighs, chicken schnitzels - but, interestingly, not bone-in-skin-on chicken breasts unless it's a special order - but you can buy thighs and drumsticks with the skin and bones. However - chicken wings and whole chickens with wings atttached are another are tussikim (tushies) - which are commonly referred to as the Parson's Nose - or as my Mother used to say when she was being particularly refined - "the part that goes over the fence last". The butchers throw that part away.

As for the shpitzim (that's the little third joint at the tip of the wing) - they throw those away, too. Why you might very well ask? Because Israelis don't like those parts! In fact - they even cut the chicken wings in half. Heresy! You need the little shpitzim when you want to fold in the wings when you are roasting so the wings don't flop around - and besides - they taste so good - as do the tussikim.

So - when Chaim brought out my chicken I checked for the shpitzim - which only occasionally remain attached by mistake. "What are you looking for?" asked Rami, as I rooted around in the bag. "The shpitzim and the tussik", I replied. At which point the brothers burst out laughing. They told me that only the Americans ask for those parts - and as they have a large American clientele they always leave those parts attached.

Little did I know. I have bought my last chicken in the shuk. From now on all my chickens will come from the Shoshanis - with the shpitzim and the tussikim attached.

No matter that I came here thirty-three years ago - and despite the fact that in many ways I am very Israeli - and despite the fact that Rami and Chaim and I always speak in Hebrew - deep down where it really counts - I will always be an American. There's no getting away from that.

Monday, June 16, 2008



Here's a little test for you to see if you really read my blogs. Two blogs ago I wrote about a restaurant that Riva and I were going to go to - and that I'd let you know what we thought of it. Remember?

We went - and I thought it was so wonderful that I sent a rave review into "e-luna". If you don't know what "e-luna" is - it's a site here in Israel listing most of the good kosher restaurants in all the cities in Israel - containing reviews and a place to click onto to get discount coupons for the restaurants. Now - don't think for a moment that because you can get a discount coupon the restaurants are iksa (yechy) - some of them are really, really fine - as was "Etzel Pini Bachetzer".

I won't give you the entire review - you can read that on "e-luna" - what I will tell you is that the food and service and ambience were more than even I expected. And I had eaten at the restaurant in their first incarnation in town when it wasn't kosher. "e-luna" was even nice enough to include my blog address in with the review. So now you know - read the review and go to the restaurant.

In that same blog I mentioned that I was going to visit my cousin, Dizza, for Shavuout. The whole day was a joy - from beginning to end. First of all - it was the first time I had taken my car out for a really long drive - Herzliya Pituach doesn't count as it's only forty-five minutes away - this ride was about one and one half hours. The car drives like a dream - OK - I won't bore you with all my raves about my new car. Second - radio station "88" had an all-day jazz-blues program - all the greats - the Dorseys, Grady Tate, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Tatum - programs from the "Blue Note" in New York where I (mis)spent a lot of my youth - all the music brought back such memories. And the program was still on when I drove home in the evening.

And third - but not last - I got to spend time with my cousins Dizza and Ufaz and their youngest daughter, Daphy - whose middle name is Rena - after me. So I loved her even before she was born because I knew she would carry my name. Believe me when I tell you that Dizza and I didn't stop talking for one minute in seven hours. In between we ate - Ufaz (nicknamed Pazzi) joined us for a while - and then Daphy joined us - so the three women had a real girl-talk fest.

Daphy's older sister is getting married on July 1st, so of course I had to see what they were wearing. Then we discussed our mutual friends, family, and bras. Yes - bras. Imagine, if you will, three women sitting around the table pulling our shirts up - or down - to compare our bras. It seemed a perfectly normal thing to do - wasn't it? (By that time Pazzi had left the table - it wasn't a conversation for him.)

Now it's back to real life - no more chaggim (holidays) for a while. But a very busy time nevertheless - trying to get ready for our Annual Meeting - dance concerts - music concerts - dinners - breakfasts - and so it goes.

Yalla, Bye.

Sunday, June 08, 2008



As all of my regular readers know by now - I have the best CM (computer mumche {expert}) in the entire world. He's about seven feet tall, has the face of an angel, a personality to match - and is absolutely brilliant. He's a student at the Hebrew University and is doing his PhD now. Not fair of me, I know - but I hope he takes years and years to finish because when he does finally finish studying and gets a "real" job he won't have time to be my CM any more.

Last week my printer died. Well. it didn't really die - it just ran out of ink - but it was dead as far as I was concerned. What to do? New ink costs 250 shekels. A whole new printer-fax-copier-scanner costs only 1000 shekels. A new machine it was.

So on Thursday he met me at "Office Depot" and we chose a new machine - actually, he chose the machine and I just went along for the ride. And to pay the bill.

Yesterday he came to hook it up. He took everything out of the enormous box - knew exactly what every little piece and wire was for - and went to work. The machine is an HP - and came with completely detailed instructions in two large booklets - two because they were printed in so many languages - not one of which was English. Sixteen languages - German, Italian, Finnish, Greek, Turkish, Flemish, Swedish, Portugese, Hebrew - you get the picture - but not in English.

Not that it would have made any difference to me - there is no way that I could have installed it by myself. You have to "introduce" the printer to the computer - each operation has another introduction process. A question - why can't you just plug the thing in and let it get to work? It also comes with a CD - not much help to me either as the language on the CD keeps changing from English to Hebrew.

Now - I speak both English and Hebrew - but anything technical is Greek to me. Believe me when I tell you that I can barely put in a lightbulb by myself - it's that bad.

But I'm back in business now and I just sent out an important fax. My old printer went "zzzhhhh" - and the fax was sent. This printer goes "glp glp gurgle blp blp" - and the fax goes out in a fraction of the time it took with the old machine. Oh yes - it also prints in color - I'll have to try that one of these days when I get up the courage.

N.B. My friend, Brenda, told me that I made a mistake in my last posting - our Annual General Meeting is in July - not June as I wrote the other day - so I have another month before all the screaming begins.

Yalla, Bye.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


VA'AD BAYIT - or instant insanity - part 3

The other day my friend, Judi, said to me that I wasn't writing as often as I used to. She's right. But not because I don't want to. It's because I simply haven't had time. And why not you might well ask? Because I'm trying to run this damned building - that's why.

My full-time jobs never took up so much of my time - not to mention all my free time. I have become the "Mommy" of this building. A leak? Call Rena. Someone found car keys in the parking lot - next to a car - who does the car belong to? Call Rena. Actualy - ring Rena's doorbell at 11 o'clock at night. (By the way - Rena actually knew whom the car belonged to.) A smell of gas? Call Rena.

It's now time for our Assifa Clalit (our Annual General Meeting). And guess who has to bring it all together? Rena!!! To make matters even more complicated my printer has stopped printing. I think it's run out of ink but, since I wanted to buy one of those all-in-one machines anyway - the kind that's a printer-copier-fax-scanner - I called my trusty CM, (computer mumche) Elad, and we're going to look for a new one tomorrow.

All well and good except I had to get something printed today. So - I typed it up on my computer - sent it on to my friend, Riva, as an "attachment"- she will print it out on her printer - bring it to me this evening when we meet for dinner - and I'll take it to the stationery store tomorrow and have all the copies made. Something's wrong with this picture. Aren't all these machines meant to make one's life easier?

Anyway - on to the Annual General Meeting. I'm holding the meeting at my house - aren't I the "Mommy" of the building? It's a good thing I'm going to do some shiputzim (renovations) here because I expect there to be a lot of bloodshed. The meetings are never calm one way or the other - people really hate each other in this building. No one ever wants to let anyone else speak. To make matters worse the cost of heating-oil is absolutely exhorbitant and I don't know how we're ever going to pay to keep the central heating going this coming winter.

So - I will suggest shutting down the central heating and having each flat heat independently. Do you hear the screaming already? But I'm a good kid - you knew that before I said it. I did all the research - had meetings with many people - made countless phone calls - and I will offer the owners four alternative methods of heating their flats.

The meeting will be on June 8th. If you don't hear from me after that you'll know that the meeting really caused some bloodshed.

Now you know why I haven't had time to write. In the meantime I'll just chug along - dinner tonight with Riva - at a restaurant I used to eat at when it was in the center of town - not kosher. Then Pini closed the restaurant and moved to Tel Aviv. He's back in Jerusalem - not far from my house now - with a new restaurant - kosher this time (Riva's one of my friends for whom I keep my house kosher) - we'll see how it is - have heard good reports about it. Will let you know.

Speaking about letting you know - I told you three weeks ago that I was on a diet - yet again - and would keep you up-to-date on my progress. So far I have lost 4 kilos - about 8 pounds. Eleven more kilos to go - hope I stick to it this time. I'm really really trying. But - dinner out tonight - breakfast with Marallyn on Friday - a Brit Mila on Sunday - to my cousin Dizza's on Monday for Shavuout. Not to mention a reception last night at which I ate only some crudites (raw vegetables) without the dips and drank diet cola (ugh); lunch out with Shosh, at which I ate a small Salade Nicoise; dinner out with Ros - 3 spare ribs with no sweet BBQ sauce, salad and 1/2 baked potato - and so it goes.

Did I mention that Shavuout is the holiday where you eat only dairy foods - and all things good and fattening made with cheese?

Yalla, Bye.

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