◊ Really?

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Dear mom,

I’m trying to decide which was worse, the close-up of your urine colored chicken soup fat or that shiny pre-gefilte staring right at me. I was so excited to see that you posted, and opening your letter to a glassy fish eye was just a little… startling. The memory of coming home last year to fish-perfumed everything crept through my hippocampus into my nose. And by nose I mean my heart. My passover memories are now coated with fish gut.

Thank god for whiffs of eggy almond and burnt sugar creeping into my bedroom on late nights leading up to Seder… quiet wake up calls of matzoh fried-ness from morning-after breakfasts… chocolatey espresso fish-cover-up…

It’s funny that I’m still grossed out by your gefilte process. I’m in India.

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beauties at the beauty saloon

A few days ago, Hannah and I stopped for a street snack during our walk back to her apartment from a  visit to the “beauty saloon.” I bought a sliced cucumber. The man who handed it to me took a pre-peeled cucumber from a pyramid stack of many on his large wooden cart, rinsed it in a bucket (presumably of water), sprinkled it with salt and masala and handed it to me in newspaper wrapping. He looked at the 10 rupee note I waved at him, submersed his arm right back into the rinsing bucket, and handed me 4 coins he had fished from its bottom.

I had a soggy-newspaper-cucumber in one hand and wet change in the other. I looked at Hannah, “Did that just happen?”

Hannah and I had a good laugh as I crunched on my snack without hesitation. Why this cuke-wala felt inclined to store his money at the bottom of a bucket of water, I’ll never know.

Money is so dirty. I’m laughing at him. Why.

Everyday I see people do things that don’t make any sense to me. Sometimes I ask questions: Sir, why are you throwing a whole package of crushed biscuits out of your window every morning?
“It’s part of my Puja (religious ritual) to feed animals. Small dogs enjoy Parle-G brand.”

Oh.

Pre-Pesach binge on Romali Roti... the Jumbo Slice of Hyderabad!

Pre-Pesach binge on Romali Roti… the Jumbo Slice of Hyderabad!

Other times I just laugh, laugh, laugh.

I’m so grateful to have a friend here that I was able to celebrate Passover with… A friend I can laugh with and eat with sans judgment. Hannah and I made a beautiful Seder together in Hyderabad.

We made memories that smell like cardamom and fresh coconut and cucumber water.

Jump To Recipe

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I’m also grateful that you didn’t post pics of gefilte gravy. Gelatinous fish slime… Bubbe smothering her kugel in it… photos would have crossed the line.

I’m gagging.

Xo I promise I’m taking care of myself,

Shaina

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Now I’ll tell you about our beautiful Seders. The first night,  a current AJWS fellow hosted an intimate Seder. She made an inspirational tzimmes with sweet potatoes, carrots and prunes and charozet that tasted so much like home it hurt. We laughed at Judaism as we tried to explain our rituals to her friends, recalled childhood memories, and bonded over cultural weirdnesses distinct to all families.

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Hannah and I hosted the second Seder (17 people – 5 Jews). We cooked all day and made several trips to Hannah’s veg wala and her special hypermart! We made Hillel sandwiches for everyone with khakra (a crispy Gujarati cracker), pomegranate charozet and cilantro.

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We read from a laptop Hagaddah  and talked about “freedom” and ethics and living in India. Most importantly, our menu was inspired by Pesach classics and fixed with India inspiration:

Sweet Pomegranate Chutney aka Charozet
Vegetable Tzimmes with Pan Fried Paneer
Curry Egg Salad
Paradise Creamed Spinach
The Golden Purp (sans tofu and with cumin instead of caraway)
Pink Raita (yogurt dip with beets, carrot, onion, fresh fenugreek)
Curdy Babaganoush (charred eggplant stew with onions, garlic, tomatoes and curd)
Sweet Potato Halwa
Cinnamon bananas boiled in coconut milk and sugar
Fruits and salads and rotis contributed by our generous guests

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It was all tasty, but the Veg Tzimmes was the star. I’ve shared some recipes below:

Vegetable Tzimmes with Pan Fried Paneer:

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  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seed
  • 
1 tsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cardamom pods, peels and pulverized or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 4 onions, chopped into 1/2 in chunks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
 powder
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger
  • 
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb finger zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks (these small snappy zucchini are only available at Indian specialty stores. Feel free to substitute regular zucchini or other veg of your choice.)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 lb potatoes, chopped into 1/2 in chunks
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped into medallions
  • 3/4 cup raw peanuts
  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/3 c pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 6 medium dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 
500 g Paneer  (Substitute tofu for vegan option)
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 
1/3 c fresh coconut, grated (or dried, unsweetened)
  • 1 c pomegranate seeds

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Heat vegetable oil in large pan. Temper mustard seeds, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, ginger and cinnamon. When mustard seeds begin to pop, stir in onions, garlic and salt. Stir in zucchini and cook until brown on the edges.

Put chopped and washed potatoes, carrots, peanuts and cauliflower into a deep, heavy soup pot (I used a pressure cooker). Add cloves, one cup of water, and onion/garlic/zucchini/ spice mixture. Stir, cover pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, cut paneer (or tofu) into 1/2 inch slices. Heat oil in a skillet and pan fry until golden brown. I don’t usually eat much paneer, but Hannah showed me her pan fried version – it tasted like a Bubbe blintz. Sweet, crunchy, milky salty friedness.

When vegetables are cooked through, stir in chopped dates, half of the pomegranate seeds and half of the shredded coconut. Garnish dish with paneer, remaining coconut and pomegranate. Eat alone or over rice/quinoa… or top with plain yogurt.

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Sweet Pomegranate Chutney aka Charozet:

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  • 4 apples, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/3 cup golden raisin
  • 1/3 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 4 cardamom pods, peeled and pulverized (or 1/2 tsp fresh ground cardamom)
  • 3 tbs fresh tamarind paste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • cinnamon to taste
  • handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 c almonds, toasted and crushed
  • 1/2 c cashews, toasted and crushed
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar for tang

Reserve half of your mint, combine all ingredients and mix well. Garnish with remaining mint and serve chilled.

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*Make sure to toast your nuts before crushing – best way to toast nuts is to place flat on oven sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (throw onto hot skillet until fragrant if oven is unavailable).

*To make tamarind paste, soak dried tamarind pieces in water overnight, and strain in the morning over a fine grate to remove fibers.

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Paradise Creamed Spinach:

  • coconut milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • lots of black pepper (Freshly ground please)
  • 10 oz of fresh spinach
  • Fresh juice of 1 lemon

Bring coconut milk to simmer and add onions, garlic, salt and black pepper. Stir until onions are translucent. Add spinach and stir until barely wilted (do not overcook!), about half a minute. Remove from heat and squeeze juice from whole lemon into spinach. Stir lightly and serve immediately. Perfect for vegans or a Parve side dish!

Curried Egg Salad:

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  • 12 eggs, boiled and chopped
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 3 tbs yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chives, chopped
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Garnish with cilantro and toasted nuts of choice

Combine all ingredients and toss lightly. Serve chilled over crackers or in a sandwich. Yogurt adds an extra tang – so much healthier than mayo!

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♦ Attending To The Moments

Dear Shaina,

I just finished scrubbing down every inch of the kitchen after another disgusting foray into the world of homemade gefilte fish.  Every year I vow I will never do it again…those glaring fish eyes and impossibly elusive little bones…those little fish bits and pieces of skin that end up stuck on every surface in the kitchen…the endless dirty pots and bowls reeking from the debris of overcooked onions and fish carcasses… and the smell!.  What was I thinking?!  I don’t even think my gefilte fish tastes that good!IMG_0094

Maybe it’s like childbirth…you forget all the pain and suffering when everyone around you starts oohing and aahing over the end result.  And then people come to expect it…Passover wouldn’t be the same.  And my fish man, Jerry, from Nebraska… I talk to him once a year and he remembers my address! I tried not to call him this year, but I broke down in the end and placed my order at the last possible moment. How could I not call him before Passover?

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Even the most torturous processes can be comforting. An hour of scrubbing the boiled-over burnt-on fish juice off the stove kept my mind painstakingly focused on my cleanser scarred fingertips. No other thoughts existed in my mind. I rubbed and scrubbed that stove until my cuticles started shedding and every speck of that black crusty glop was gone.  The sense of accomplishment in taking that stove down to its bare eyes and polishing it until it gleamed was beyond…well let’s just say, I am beginning to understand the methods of Bubbe’s cleaning madness.

Maybe we are just too much in our heads. Our minds are working overtime, so we engage in these consuming tasks.  they provide respite from being worried about your sore knee or the recent rapes in India…or being scared about not having an answer or trying to make sense of it all…so we go back for more.

Shaina, I love knowing that you have recognized the you you like.  I am proud that you have allowed yourself to go to a place where you are forced to pay attention to the process and to how you feel. And I am thrilled that you are playing…a lot.  You are correct.  Once you learn how to do these things, you can do them anywhere.  They are the answers to all the questions that really have no answers.  As your mother, and your biggest fan, it is my absolute pleasure to witness your remarkable journey…and to know, even if you don’t, that you are traveling in the right direction.

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Learning how to rest

I am also practicing the fine art of playing and attending to the moments.  It is a lifelong learning.  I am grateful for my own evolving knowing of the me I like. I learned how to breathe a little more fully in yoga today and that downward dog really does provide a rest.

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I feel good when I scrub down my kitchen and get a good foot massage when I get a pedicure.

Working out the kinks

Working out the kinks

I am learning a new way to hold up my head and strengthen my core so that my body doesn’t hurt me…and so I don’t hurt it.

I may even be able to balance my body…and my life…someday.

I have the rest of my life to learn…the same as you…the same as everyone.

This year just won't be the same.

This year just won’t be the same.

We’ll be having my gefilte fish at Seder in a few days. I am making some carrot Halwa and Indian Spiced Chicken. The agony of preparation will be over.  The Slivovitz will have kicked in and your presence will be both very much missed and very much felt in the moments of the evening.

Enjoy your Indian Passover at Hannah’s and don’t forget to Skype!

I love you and miss you.

Love,

Mom

Xoxooxoxoxo

P.S. I know you won’t be making Gefilte Fish anytime soon, but I needed to get it off my chest, so I am sending the recipe…and maybe someday.  I am also sending a favorite dessert.  It is as easy as the fish is hard and it will make the pain (it helps with the smell, too) go away.

Homemade Gefilte Fish

Gefilte Fish

Makes 50 – 75 pieces depending on the size of each piece.

  • 6 – 7 pounds of fish, filleted and deboned, save the heads, tails, bones and skin for fish broth
    Traditionally a combination of whitefish, yellow pike and carp is used for Gefilte Fish.
    I used carp (1lb.), buffalo fish (4 lbs.), walleye (1 lb.) and amberjack (1lb.) because that was what I could get.
  • 3 onions
  • 6 – 7 carrots
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 4 -5 eggs
  • 4 – 6 quarts of cold water
  • ½ cup matzoh meal

Place the bones, skin and fish heads in a very large pot with the water and add 2 teaspoons of salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Remove the foam that accumulates.

Slice  2 onions in rounds and add to the fish broth.  Add the sugar and simmer for about 30 minutes while the fish mixture is being prepared.

All ground up and ready to go!

All ground up and ready to go!

Grind the fish filets in a food processor with an onion and one or two carrots until it has a soft pasty texture.  Feel the fish with your hands to find any unground veiny pieces or small bones.  This is the really messy part and takes a while.

Add the eggs, one at a time, 2 teaspoons of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. Mix in about a ½ cup of matzoh meal to make a light, soft mixture that will hold its shape.

Remove the fish heads, skins and bones from the fish broth. Add carrots cut in large chunks to the broth and return the broth to a simmer.

Wet hands with cold water and scoop up about a ¼ cup (may use more or less depending on how big you like your gefilte fish pieces) of the fish mixture and form into oval shapes. Gently place the fish patties into the simmering fish broth.  Cover loosely and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Taste the liquid while the fish is cooking and add seasoning to taste. If you like a sweeter fish, add a little more sugar to the broth.  Simmer for another 20 minutes until flavors are cooked through and fish is done.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the Gefilte Fish and arrange on a platter.  Reserve some of the fish broth to be served with the fish.

Cut cooked carrots into rounds on the diagonal and place on top of fish. Chill and garnish with parsley.  Have plenty of horseradish to serve with the Gefilte Fish.

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The Chocolate BombIMG_0877

Preheat oven to 350°

Prep time – 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour +

  • 8 ounces German Sweet Chocolate or any good dark chocolate bars
  • 2 teaspoons undiluted instant coffee or instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature (2 sticks cut up into 6 pieces)
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon flavoring of your choice – vanilla or almond extract or Cognac or Amaretto or any liqueur of your choice

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Line a 5-cup soufflé dish, charlotte mold or oven proof ceramic bowl with a double thickness of foil.

This dessert is prepared entirely in a food processor using the basic steel chopping blade.

Break chocolate into pieces and drop into the food processor work bowl with instant coffee and sugar.  Pulse about 4 times until mixture gets started and then let processor run until the chocolate is finely chopped.

With processor running, pour boiling water through the feed tube. Let processor run until chocolate is melted and thoroughly mixed.

Add the butter and pulse 3 times.  Then let the processor run until the butter is blended completely into the chocolate mixture.

Add eggs and flavoring and process for 20 to 30 seconds.

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Empty the mixture into the bowl lined with foil.  Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour.  Check after 45 minutes. It is done when it rises and a thick darkly browned (almost burnt) crust is formed.  Remove from oven and cool. The baked ball of chocolate will recede as it cools.

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When cool, wrap foil around ball and seal in an airtight bag.  It may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or frozen for 2 months or more.

To serve, peel off foil and invert on a serving platter.  The outside of the ball will look sticky and irregular.

It can be garnished with strawberries or decorated with whipped cream or powdered sugar. Chill until serving time.  Cut in small pieces and serve.

◊ What Doing?

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Dear mom,

You’re probably the busiest jobless person I know.  Mah Jong, volunteering, attending dinners, blogging (!), entertaining…

Thank you too for the glimpse into your life. It’s comforting to know that the intensity with which you approached your career is consistent in your daily tasks, and I loved the pics! Cups of coffee in the living room with you and dad… so tempting!

But… like…  what are you doing?

It’s not a nice question, sorry. It’s just that right now I too am running, running and at the end of a breathless day, I wonder what it was about.

Last time I was in Bhuj, living in a local fishbowl, I’d wake up to early morning pounding and find Heeran, my 12 year old neighbor, standing at my window. He’d sing, “Hi Simmy… What doing?”

“Heeran, get lost,” I’d sing back.

Now that I’m back in the Bhuj, the song is on repeat, heightening my anxiety with each play:  Simmy… what doing?

And then I read your letter. Oy vey. While you’re taking pride in my “accomplishments” (ha!), I’m trying to make sense of it all. Don’t be fooled: I’m just as scared as you are.

Simmy… What doing?  

I’m scared, scared, scared that I don’t have an answer.

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I tell myself:

I’m curious about craft production as a catalyst of social and economic empowerment of women worldwide. India is the world’s hub for handcraft, and I’m here to explore the craft sector.

Sometimes I admit that I’m here just because I missed it when I was in DC. But when people ask me what I missed, I panic. I rattle lame answers: the people… you’re so kind; the food… pani puri!; the colors are brighter in your country…?

Those aren’t answers either.

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The past few days, I’ve been visiting Ismail Khatri – India’s Ajrak guru and Kutch’s natural dye expert – and playing with his family’s carved wooden blocks in Ajrakpur, a blockprinting village about 40 km away.

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Sometimes it takes me 45 minutes to get there – sometimes it takes over 2 sweaty, bumpy, angry hours.

Yesterday, I went to Ajrakpur and cooked Gajar (Carrot) Halwa with Ismail’s daughter in law, Hameeda. We shaved carrots until my triceps shook, and I thought about my food processor at home. Ismail brought wheat stalks from his family’s farm to his wife who shucked their grains to be pulverized in a stone grinder. One of the sisters skimmed cream from fresh curd to make ghee.

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IMG_4771When we were finished, Sufiyan, Ismail’s son, asked if I wanted chai.

Yes.

Goat milk or buffalo milk?

Goat..?

Do you want to milk the goat?

Yes.

It was a whole day.

What doing?

Um…

I’m playing.

Playing frisbee in the white desert

Playing frisbee in the white desert

Why India?

I’m here because I like me here.

At home, I try hard to connect to processes, but catch myself hoarding joy only in final outcomes. Here, processes consume my life, so I’m forced to pay attention to how they make me feel. If I were to count on final products to fulfill me, I’d rip my hair out.

Indigo obsession

Indigo obsession

In India, I can’t shove veggies into a Vitamix or get into a taxi with confidence about where I’ll end up or know that my stomach will absorb my lunch or recognize whether my words/hand motions will translate into their intended purposes.

So… paying attention to my feelings… while I’m playing…  is what I’m doing?

I scream at rickshaw walas. I bounce strangers’ babies on my lap. I get too excited about vegetable colors in markets and in vats  ready to swallow printed fabric. I get really, really bored.  I sweat. I smell, I touch, I taste. I feel.

The good news for you is that I can do these things anywhere. I just have to learn. And I’m here to learn.

Love you and I miss you too.
xo,
Shaina

Gajar (Carrot) Halwa

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It’s so so easy… I’m imagining only 5 minutes with a food processor.

In India, it’s tradition to serve Halwa to guests. Each region has its own ingredients and variations, but Gajar (Carrot) Halwa is my fav. It’s auspicious to serve this indulgent, nutritious and special gift to guests upon their arrival. It could also be perfect on your Passover dessert table or as a dressing for Matzoh Brei with cottage cheese. I have a feeling dad will love it over ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • halwa6 cups peeled and finely grated carrot
  • 3 cups full fat milk
  • 1/4 cup cream or half and half
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews or pistachios
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tbs grated unsweetened coconut
  • 5 fresh cardamom pods, peeled and crushed

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Serves 12 – 20 guests, depending on how many other sweets are on the table.

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Wash and finely grate the carrots.

Heat ghee or butter in a heavy pan over a low flame. Add the carrots to the ghee and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Add milk and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots and milk thicken – stir occasionally for about 15 minutes. After mixture has thickened, add sugar, nuts and raisins, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add cardamom and stir. Serve warm over ice cream or on its own. It’s also tasty cold!

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For the sake of our readers, I’ve adjusted this recipe to be a bit more healthy than what is typically served here. In India, many people use Mawa in place of milk (Mawa is milk and sugar cooked down to a crumbly solid) and add much more ghee than I’ve suggested. Many Indians living in the US substitute ricotta cheese for Mawa for a Halwa that’s more familiar. You can also substitute a 1/3 c condensed milk for 1/3 regular milk for a sweeter, creamier version. Semolina, sweet potato, chick pea flour or mung bean flour can easily replace carrots for a heartier version of this recipe. The semolina version is a great breakfast, but you’ll have to wait til after Passover!

gallons of gajar and roasted semolina Halwa being cooked on the street

gallons of gajar and roasted semolina Halwa cooked, served and eaten on the street

Last week, I stayed at a friend’s family’s house in Udaipur. They served me Halwa upon arrival and stuffed me with Rajasthani dishes. Here in Bhuj, I’ve eaten Halwa made from mung beans, chick pea flour, “white carrot” (white sweet potato) and semolina. My stomach is expanding with each home visit, but to deny gooey, sweet Halwa would be like rejecting potato knishes from Bubbe – an offense that I can’t even imagine!

PS. See more of what I’ve been doing:

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Frisbee in the Rann. It’s salt, not snow.

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The Khatris have generously allowed me to print some of my own items… dangerous. I did socks, a tank and a long sleeve shirt. You know how I struggle when you take me to get my nails done, selecting at least 10 colors, narrowing it down to five and ending with each nail a different color? By the time I sit down for my manicure, everyone else is already under the dryer. It’s how block printing went too. I selected over 25 blocks, laid them out, changed my mind again and again at the last minute ended up combining a bunch of miss-matched “border” pieces. The process of elimination doesn’t work when I select a new block each time I put one back.  And then came the agony of deciding which dyes I wanted to use. All of them!

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Milking a goat for afternoon chai.

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Making Chai.

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I know.

photo jaipur

Got my portrait taken on the street with a camera from the 1860s. The whole thing was done right there on the street – magic. I found the photographer, Tikam, in Jaipur after reading Heidi’s Pumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe. When can I get my own mini dark room?

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Never knew sugar could come in so many shapes!

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Rajasthani sweet shop – LADOOOOO!

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Pickle wala. Omg. Need to find a good recipe for Gujarati mango pickle. My dinner for the past week has been mango pickle + curd + veggies + sprouted dals. Perfect.

♦ For Emotional Purposes Only

Dear Shaina,

I keep reading your letter over and over again, just to look at the pictures…You in your ratty shorts and tee shirt standing by the stove, your hair haphazardly piled on top of your head and your smiling twisted body balancing your friend on your back at the Taj.  I can practically feel the dryness of your skin when I look at the picture of you touching the artistry on that wall. I love feeling you in your pictures. I guess I miss you, just a little!

People always ask me “How did you let her go?” or “Aren’t you scared?” 

The truth is… I am scared. I have been scared since the day you were yanked out of my body. It doesn’t really matter where you are. I will always be scared, but so what?  That doesn’t mean either of us have to stop living.  Being scared doesn’t change the outcome, whatever it may be.  So I ignore my scared in favor of marveling at your adventurous nature and taking pride in your accomplishments.

IMG_0887As far as not letting you go, was that ever even an option? I have been working on letting you go, also, since the day you were born. Isn’t that my job as a parent? Well, maybe I did too good a job.

I still do miss you. And your pictures bring you a little closer. I know that you are probably not missing us in exactly the same way, but I couldn’t help but think that you might find a small bit of pleasure from seeing some pictures of our life.  So I started taking pics everywhere I went…lest you think I just sit around all day and miss you.  I will warn you…these are iPhone pics taken in bad light by non-professionals in random situations at spontaneous moments. No photo commentary allowed.  These pics are for emotional purposes only.

photoAs I looked through the lens of my camera, I realized that you are a virtual part of every scene in my life.

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I volunteered at the White Elephant Sale at the Day School and there I was working in the gym in which you ran laps and said Shabbat blessings every Friday for eight years of your life. Your former principal was organizing the sale and we talked about where you were and what you were doing. You were with me in that gym for those hours that I folded and organized and stacked stuff.

I went over to the JCC to check out some replacement tiles for my mah jong set and they were teaching mah jong and needed a fourth, so I sat down at the table and there was your fifth grade teacher.  I remembered her name. She asked about you…and there you were again…with me at the table.

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The NCCJ Awards dinner was last night and I was at a table with one of your Anytown co-workers.

I talked to a whole bunch of people who knew you and asked about you. My name was Shaina Shealy’s mom and I was so proud to have you with me all evening long.

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There isn’t a day that goes by without a Shaina connection.

I know I haven’t mentioned much about food, although you are totally entwined in my life when it comes to food. My most recent experiment was replicating Bubbe’s Chicken Burgers.  Maybe I’m just in a missing mood, but I really wanted one of those garlicky Bubbe burgers, smothered with fried onions. I served them one Shabbat and everyone loved them. They were such a hit that I am considering making them as a Passover dish and using matzoh meal instead of flour.

I cant believe Passover is in three weeks!  Another opportunity to clean out the cupboards…and to miss you.  I’ll be pulling out the Indian fabric to drape over the tables and maybe even making a little Indian inspired spicy charoseth…to have a little of you there, at the table.

Have a wonderful Passover…wherever you happen to be…and keep sending those pictures!

Love,

Mom

Xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Bubbe’s Chicken Burgers

Easy and Delicious!

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This recipe can be doubled for a crowd and the seasonings are really up to you. For gluten free burgers, just leave off the bread crumbs. They can be made cocktail sized and served on baguette rounds for a hearty appetizer.

  • 4 -6 fresh cloves of garlic (use less if you’re not a garlic fan)IMG_0828
  • ½ of a medium onion
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts cleaned and trimmed (more or less)
  • ⅓ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 large sweet onions thinly sliced
  • Olive oil

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Put the onions and garlic in the food processor bowl with the steel chopping bladeand chop until minced. Add the chicken breasts, bread crumbs, eggs and salt and pepper to the bowl and process until the chicken is finely chopped.
In a large frying pan, sauté onions slices (I like a lot of onions) in a small amount of olive oil until translucent or lightly caramelized.  Use your hands (mixture is sticky so wet your hands with water as needed while making patties) to form chicken mixture into small flattened patties and sauté with the onions, adding oil as needed.  The onions will become more browned as the chicken burgers cook.  Cook thoroughly until done.  Make a small test burger and add seasonings as needed.

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Can be served with pasta and salad or as a sandwich.  These are good hot, warm or cold.

2 pounds of chicken makes a whole lot of little burgers…enough for a crowd and leftovers. The recipe can easily be cut in half or doubled.

Burgers can be frozen and reheated. Just sauté some fresh onions and they are as good as the day they were made. They are almost as good as I remember Bubbe’s!