Friday, May 22, 2015

Food Friday and preparing for Sinai

I do know that it has actually been beautiful out.


But I have been spending my time indoors getting the apartment ready for the influx of STUFF coming from my mother’s apartment.  We have been working on getting rid of things that we don’t love, don’t need in our lives. This has not been a stress-free process.

Today is Friday, dinner needed to be made for tonight and I put the chicken in the oven before I left for services this morning. I also need to get some of the cooking done for Shavuot. I was also asked to give a D’var Torah tomorrow, so a whole lot on my plate and not quite enough time to get it all done.

As I was getting to work today, the doorbell rang and it was a cheesecake delivered from a cousin. It was an edible condolence card. I am touched beyond words and will eat it on Shavuot tasting every bit of love and comfort in every bite.

When we picked up our youngest from college one of the things he brought home was


It isn’t something that normally comes home from the supermarket with us.


I knew I was planning to make a cholesterol death kugel. I had decided to make the noodles from scratch. I thought that I would make a double recipe of noodles. as I was rolling out the noodles


I wondered if I could make a version of the bad caterer parev kugel with canned fruit but have it actually taste good.

I thought about how to proceed as I rolled the noodle dough thinner and thinner.


I knew from reading old cookbooks that the standard old housewife way to cut noodles was to roll them up and then slice the noodles.


I made a custard with 6 eggs, the canned fruit and it’s juiceSAM_4396

a whole lot of spices including cardamom and coriander, orange juice and lemon rind


I combined everything in a pan and then topped with more spices


and then baked until done.


We will see if my experiment was successful.

I also decided to make challot shaped appropriately for Shavuot.


A sheaf of wheat, a few Torah scrolls , a ten commandments and a basket of first fruits.


I like the sheaf of wheat best. Some of the challot came out less than wonderful looking so I won’t show them to you.


I just pulled the milchig kugel out of the oven. I still have to make dessert, clear off the dining room table and write my d’var torah.  I think I may not get to mopping the floor.


Shabbat Shalom and Chad Sameach!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Packing up and give away

This week has been something of an adventure.
Monday morning my sister drove us to Boston. My husband and I started packing up the stuff we wanted to take back to New York almost as soon as we walked in the door.

We took a break to have dinner with one of our parents’ dear friend who is himself in declining health. He gave us a poem he had written about our mother.
I think perhaps because my mothers decline was so long and so difficult I have been fairly un-weepy during this period of mourning. But this poem had me sobbing.
We knew the movers were coming on Tuesday morning and there was a ton to do. So we packed and packed until 3:30 am when I fell asleep so I could wake up at 6:15 to go to morning services.

After services I napped because my husband gave me no choice in the matter. I am grateful that he stepped in and was bossy and insisted that I sleep. After I woke up it was back to work.
I had ordered to giant rolls of bubble wrap to be delivered to my mother’s apartment . I am so glad I did. I love the stuff. It’s just amazing.

The movers arrived and worked away.

My mother’s apartment isn’t empty yet, but it is far emptier. This is all that is left on my mother’s window sill.

This Hebron glass vase has been broken and repaired. it is standing on solitary watch over the view.

My husband found a letter from 1990 written in my mother’s handwriting. It was from both of my parents and it contained my parents wishes for who of the three of us should get which of their many, many things. There was a long, long list of objects each one marked with one of our initials. My mother had never shared this list with us. She never brought this list to the lawyer to be included in her will.
When my sisters divided up our parents things a few weeks ago we each had stickers that we put on the objects we wanted. Most things had just one sticker. Several objects had two or three stickers.
Amazingly, the process was contention free. I think each of us ended up with things that we were surprised to have received. ( I d thought that my sisters would have wanted some things that I wanted more than I did)

As I read the letter from my mother it blew me away how often our choices had lined up with our parents wishes. I was happy that the process of choosing with my sisters was strife –free. I am even more delighted that our choices were what our parents had wanted.
After the movers finished their work, my husband and I tidied up in the apartment.

We took the MBTA to the bus and got home just before midnight. I probably don’t need to tell you that all of my internal clocks are completely out of whack now.

The vanload of stuff arriving from my mother’s house means that we need to get rid of stuff from our apartment. yesterday my sons and I unpacked the bookshelf in the dining room The books were double and triple shelved on that book case. many of those books are touchstones from various points in my husband’s life.
At the moment our apartment is filled with stacks and stacks of books. We are deciding what can go and what will stay. My sons just went through the video and videogame collection. My son is, as I type this bringing s fully loaded shopping cart to Book-off to sell off a giant stack of rejects. I made three trips to our buildings discarded books bookshelf to add to that collection.

As part of this effort I am announcing a sewing magazine give away grab bag bonanza. The magazines include about two decades worth of Burda, about ten years worth of Threads magazine including several from the heady early years, a few European sewing/pattern magazines and a few Japanese magazines.The magazine have been well read, nothing is in pristine condition.There are some rules though.
  • This is for pick up only – no shipping
  • As my mother used to say “ You get what you get”, no picking and choosing. I will pile magazines into a bag until they are full.
  • Tell me a volume amount that you can take in grocery bag quantities and I will pack it up for you.
  • Send me an email if you want to participate in the bonanza
One bag is already gone.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Food Friday and other stuff

I will begin with the other stuff.
Other stuff #1
Yesterday we rented a car and drove to pick up kid # 3 from college.
His school is about an hour and a half away. We started out journey in great spirits.
most of our trip was like this.

Door to door it was eight hours including packing up the car and a stop for dinner. Having child # 3 home is a pleasure. He is even doing his own laundry.
Other Stuff #2
I had purchased a soft as a cloud cashmere v-necked sweater at a thrift. The color on it’s own is just plain evil on me and on my daughter.
I turned it into a cardigan.
This is how I did it in case you forgot.
1.Fold the sweater in 1/2
Be sure to align the side seams. If you peek inside the sweater you can line those seams up perfectly.
If you like to do things in a complicated way you can do lots of measuring from the side seams and use a billion pins. If you have a flat surface and live in a place with gravity just put the sweater down and align the side seams and that will help you find the center front.
2. Since I live in a place with gravity, I found the center front of my sweater folded the sweater along the center line and cut.
3. Now you have a sweater with raw edges that need to be covered. I have often crocheted over the raw edge. This time I decided to use a lace overlay.
This is the lace that I used.
It’s left over from a dress I made before Passover. The rich color will make the oatmeal color of the sweater look less sickly on me.
I added a maroon velvet ribbon to tie the sweater.
Yes, there are other ways you could do this. you are probably smart enough to do this on your own. It’s ok to mess up along the way.

And now for the food.
Child # 3 has been missing meat. I promised I would make some for tonight. I made two London broils. I actually know very little about cuts of meat. I tend to think of meat in big categories...I think of most meat as “Hunk O Beef”. The two London broils are twosmall  hunks o beef.
Beef needs a spice rub.
This is what I used. The I mixed it with a fork.
The red is paprika and sumac.
I baked those hunks o beef until they were done.
It was time to make a sauce for the beef. I poured most of this bottle into the cooking pan.
Why did I choose this wine? Because this is the least expensive bottle on the shelf. ( I have been know to cook with really fancy booze.--a shot of single malt can do wonderful things to a stew, but it makes my husband unhappy. Today I actually checked prices on the internet before I cracked open the bottle.)
I let the wine sit on the cooked on good stuff in the pan to loosen all of the cooked on bits, the same way you put water in a pan to soak off the cooked on bits before you wash the pan.

I added mustard, it adds flavor and is a great thickener.
I turned the heat u under the pan and let it simmer away.
I thought that the mixture needed a few more flavor components so I added
and a lump of brown sugar.  I cooked the mixture down until  it had reduced by about half.
By this time the meat had cooled enough to slice.
I sliced up both hunks of beef and put them back into the gravy filled cooking pan.

My older son had baked the challah last week and made some rice. I will make a salad. There have been too many restaurant meals this week so we are skipping dessert. None of us is in the mood.

Shabbat Shalom! and happy eating.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A really nice day

My mother had kept this letter. It was written by her Uncle Nathan, Huncle Nathan if you can read his signature in Yiddish.

Nathan and  his wife Dina sent this letter to my mother on the occasion of my birth. I love Huncle Nathan’s handwriting.
uncle nathan letter 001
Yesterday was my birthday.
I had planned to take out the folks who come to morning minyan for breakfast. Because what better way is there to start the day than to spend a little bit of time eating with the people who have been supporting me though this year of mourning, each and every morning.

After the cake was presented
we were told that someone who had just walked out the door had paid for all of our breakfasts, including the slice of cheese cake.
It was a delightful beginning to a really wonderful day.
There were flowers,
birthday flowers
and even more flowers,
and gifts, and phone calls and many, many Facebook greetings.

There was dinner with the immediate family that is here in New York. It was the nicest birthday.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Just a little weird.

Mothers’ Day is this Sunday. I’m actually not feeling all that broken up about the fact that it’s Mothers’ Day and my mother is no longer alive.


Like everyone else,  I get lots of email from companies wanting me to buy stuff for Mothers’ Day. Clothing companies, and beauty supply companies and fancy food companies keep sending me reminders to buy stuff for the day.SAM_4202

One email though really spooked me out. This is the headline.

EXTRA 20% off Mom's Flowers for Zipporah. Order tonight before it's too late!

Ummm…It actually is too late.



Despite the melancholy looking photos of tree shadows from my neighborhood, I actually find the reminders slightly amusing.

It’s too late for me to buy flowers for my mother for Mothers’ Day, even at 20% off.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Small Bevy of Pillows and Why I Love Living on the Upper West Side

First the pillows.


They are not exactly necessary but the project was part of doing some house organizing and I am waiting for some silk to show up so I can continue on one tallit in progress and waiting for my client to get back t me on the other tallit in progress.


I also cleared the drain in the bathroom sink. The pillows are more photogenic than the now clear drain.


Every time I cover a pillow or re-cover one of the couch cushions I am really pleased by my wise decision about ten years ago to cover my couches in a mix of patterns. as parts wear out or look tired it is really easy to just change one element at a time.


The reason I love living here on the West Side is this.  I am working on a committee trying to transform a preschool space into a beautiful prayer space.


I had made this model SAM_4155

but had to discuss my idea with  John, the synagogue super, to see if it was feasible for him to make it and to see if he had any ideas about how to make it work more easily given the realities of staff and storage.

Calling John was on my to do list as I was on my way to take care of some household errands. But half a block from my house I ran into John. We had an impromptu meeting on the street. We both drew diagrams  and discussed building materials and  ways to make this work better. We had a really productive meeting on Broadway, and then we both went on our way.


I then crossed 97th street and ran into one of our other committee members. He had missed our last meeting so I filled him in. We sketched some more on newspaper we pulled out of the recycling bin . We tossed around various solutions…wrapped up our quick meeting and we each went in separate directions.


On my way home from my errands I ran into another friend. We had had a discussion a week ago, on Broadway about the dynamics of our complicated families. We continues our conversation for several minutes and two blocks.

Sometimes I think that I need to have an office on the sidewalk in front of my building.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Missing Weeks

I have sort of missed spring this year.


The winter  just didn’t want to let go this year.

My mother died on March 1.  Boston was buried in snow, so buried that my mother’s funeral was delayed for a few days so the path to my mother’s  grave could be dug out.SAM_4137

Then I sat Shiva.

As soon as Shiva was over it was time to get ready for Passover.


I feel as if a few weeks just sort of fell out of my calendar. But for the rest of the world, time went on.SAM_4049


So now, it’s actually spring.


Those weeks might have fallen out of my life…but it’s time to re-adjust  my personal calendar to that of the rest of the world.