◊ One-Year Trap

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Dear mom,

I know, I know… You and dad are always having more fun than me. I feel lame when people ask me what my parents are like and I tell them stories about your partying/party-throwing. I can’t keep up. Maybe when I have the resources to buy better alcohol I’ll be better at drinking it.

In my last letter, I told you about my self-induced pressure to do a million things. It’s happening. And the exhaustion is catching up with me.

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View from the road to Jericho

Yesterday, I met Ayla in Tel Aviv and had a nice beach day visiting friends. The day before that was Student Day, which I celebrated at a huge outdoor concert festival until sunrise. Last weekend, after another beach day in Tel Aviv, Naomi came to Jerusalem and we walked from here to Jericho… over 30 kilometers! The weekend before that, I went to Hebron to collect embroidery from craftswomen with Najla, a woman from Bethlehem who has been teaching me about Palestinian embroidery. Then, Arielle arrived and we hosted Shabbat dinner and hiked Wadi Qelt. On top of all the adventures, I signed up for two additional intensive courses. So right now I’m taking 9 classes plus 12 hours of Arabic a week. 


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My goal for this weekend is to relax and recover. Shanti. 

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goats!

Also, I made the decision that I will never again live somewhere for only one year. Two years is the minimum (unless something/someone convinces me otherwise… it happens sometimes).

I haven’t lived in the same place for more than one consecutive year since I was a sophomore in college (2007), and I’m not sure if it counts since I went home during summers. Since high school my life has been Alabama → DC → Uganda/Bolivia/Netherlands → DC → India → DC → India → Alabama → Israel. 

I’m so familiar with the one-year thing that I’ve traced a predictable pattern. The first three months are uncomfortable: I work hard to learn the ropes, navigate life and develop relationships (I’m slow). I buy things from the market that I don’t recognize (like sumac) and try to figure how to incorporate them into my salads. The 2nd three months are bliss: I’ve established a routine, have friends and am in the thick of exploration and excitement. I buy things from the market that I’ve learned to love like wine soaked olives. The third three months are weird: I realize that goodbyes are approaching, but it’s not time yet. I buy only fresh produce from the market because I know I have a drawer full of weird spices and dried beans that I need to use before departing. The last weeks are a whirlwind: celebrations, goodbyes and preparations. I only buy easy street food like falafel. 

Now, in the mid-third-three-months-stage, I prioritize my activities and question their worthiness of my time. Does this Arabic article translation deserve three hours of my Wednesday night? No.  

By now, I’ve established relationships and identified meaningful projects, but it’s too late to invest new energy in them. I know it’s wrong, but in the back of my head all I can think of is how leaving will disrupt everything. And then I turn into a crazy person trying to fit all of the little pieces in. One year is the worst.

xo,

Shaina

Cucumber Feta Walnut Salad

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  • 5-7 small persian cucumbers, sliced into matchstick pieces
  • half cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup (handful) fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (handful) fresh parsely, chopped
  • 1/3 cup currants or golden raisins
  • 1 tbs good olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbs powdered soumac
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, broken

Gently throw sliced cucumbers, herbs, currants/raisins and feta into a bowl. Mix olive oil, lemon juice and zest, soumac, salt and pepper in separate vessel. Pour oil mixture over the salad and gently toss. Top with walnuts and serve immediately. Or place in the fridge and serve chilled on a hot summer day.

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This salad was an attempt to use some of the weird spices sitting in my drawer since the first three months. It’s the perfect summer salad – cool and refreshing with lively herbs.

See more things I’ve been doing:

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Shesh Besh in the shuk

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Cardboard in the shuk

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Remembering the Nakba

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Hiking in Wadi Qelt

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Najla finishing a pencil case embroidered by artisans from Bethlehem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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♦ Fun After Thirty!

Dear Shaina,

I don’t know where you got the idea that all the fun is really over after thirty! Have your father and I done such a poor job of having fun? All the late night parties at our house, all the dancing at everyone’s parties, all the music festivals, the oh-so-fun holiday celebrations, the snow-women on the deck, the trips to Disney World (ok, that wasn’t so much fun, but we thought it would be), all the happy hours at the beach…? What about our recent adventure to New Orleans for our anniversary? We ate in award winning restaurants, heard amazing live music, spent time with old friends and mingled with a myriad of fun characters that seem to rise from the earth on every street corner.

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We have clearly failed you. Ok, so your idea of fun is not exactly the same as ours. What you thought was fun at age five isn’t the same as your idea of fun today, either. If you have the capacity to have fun, it only gets better, really!

In between the 3 martini lunch and the late nite live music.

In between the 3 martini lunch and the late nite live music.

As you bemoan the rapid onslaught of your imagined bleak fun-less future, I am going through more boxes of books and papers containing the remnants of all of our earlier years. In addition to all your ratty stuffed animals, I discovered a box of dolls complete with two anatomically correct baby dolls, still in their diapers. It’s hard to let go of stuff. They remind us of the big and small moments, intertwined with lots of fun memories that stitch together the fabric of our lives.

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I found one of my own composition books from grade school. I wrote an entry about being mad at Peppi because she was telling secrets in school to everyone but me. She was actually inviting people to a surprise birthday party for me. I barely remember our fight, but I remember that party and how surprised I really was. It was a highlight happy moment in my childhood.

We all want to hold on to happy and fun. We don’t want it to end. We believe we will never be this happy again. Nothing is permanent. You know that already. That is why you grab each moment and mourn the inevitable loss with each step forward. Your life is so rich and full; the angst sharing space with the pleasure, in spite of, because of…the fun.

So you’re on the edge, again. You don’t need to be in Jerusalem to perfect your mind-body-God enthusiasm. It’s already inside of you and it travels well. I’m a believer even without the science. Here’s to going over the edge and relinquishing it all to the God(s)!

We are off to the Acoustic Cafe Music Festival this weekend. It is our new annual Memorial Day Tradition (just started last year). We have a new tent and camping pads and we staked out a perfect spot near a Port-a-Potty and a water spigot. Fun comes in all kinds of packages even at our age!

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Love,
Mom
xoxoxooxxoxoxoxoxoxxoxox

 

What’s for Dinner?

This has not been a particularly creative or time intensive cooking week for me so no fancy recipes. When I told Dad we were having Black Bean Cheese Burgers (from the freezer) for dinner, he said, “why don’t you put them over those leftover grits?” That inspired this 15 minute satisfying, tasty and healthy meal that also incorporated some of my leftover veggies sitting in the refrigerator. Sometimes, you have to keep things simple, especially when you’re having so much fun.

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Black Bean Burgers over Chipotle Spiced Grits

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  •  1 onion sliced in wedges
  • 4 mini sweet peppers, sliced, any color
  • 3 or 4 mushrooms
  • Any other leftover veggies you want to add
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Black Bean or any veggie burger of your choice (meat burger if you prefer)
  • Cheddar or other cheese of choice to top the burger
  • 2 cups of cooked corn grits
  • Chipotle Sea salt to taste
  • 1 avocado
  • lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, to taste, optional
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 2 small persian cucumbers, sliced
  • 2 compari tomatoes, sliced
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro

Lightly sauté onions, pepper and mushrooms in a large sauté pan. Add the burgers to the pan and cover. Flip the burger when it is done on one side and top with cheese after flipping. Cover the pan and cook until cheese is melted, burger is done on both sides and veggies are cooked to desired tenderness.

Add Chipotle salt to cooked grits to taste and heat in the microwave.

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Peel and mash avocado. Add lemon juice, garlic and salt if desired and set aside.

Arrange romaine lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes on plate. Add salsa and mashed avocado.

Spoon grits onto the plate and top with the melted cheese veggie burger.

Garnish with remaining sautéed vegetables and cilantro.

Eat and enjoy!

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◊ Fitting It In

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Dear mom,

Dad’s elbow looks disgusting, the pictures of my wound are disgusting, and some of the shots of your portobellos are almost at that level (hint: if you hold the camera still/shoot in natural light, your pictures won’t be a fuzzy mess… After almost two years of food-photo sharing here, I expect more!). 

But foreal yuck dad’s elbow. Bodies are so weird. My knee is completely fine now. The wound was fun to watch from the bloody mess on day 1 to feverish oozing on day 4 to itchy crusting on day 7. I can’t get over how quick the transformation from broken to healed happened. I’m amazed at the human body. 

I have a friend in my quirky, endearing neighborhood who improved his eyesight via spiritual and physical discipline. He dedicated months to navigating without glasses, exploring his soul and appealing to HaShem’s will. He cried “clarifying tears” to help him see.  His resolve to heal his eyes naturally resulted in a vision correction from 6.0 to 5.0

Oh, Jerusalem …

There is no science behind his effort, but I believe him. I believe that the mind-body connection is mighty, and that trust in the metaphysical can help bridge the gap between the two. But don’t worry, I’ll need another year in Nachlaot to reach his level of mind-body-God enthusiasm and I only have three months left.

Only three months is only twelve Shabbats, which is alarming. I’m starting to panic about fitting everything in. There’s still so much family I need to spend time with, so many beaches I need to lay on, so many friends I need to visit…. so many hikes and rooftop parties and walks and papers and recipes and cafes and sites. Thinking about leaving in three months makes me sad and overwhelmed and the initial worry quickly spins into something really crazy: I only have 3 months until I leave Jerusalem and all the fun is over… I only have 4 years until I’m thirty and all the fun is really over.

Remember when I went for an endoscopy and colonoscopy because of severe stomach pains with no apparent cause? At the end of it all, the gastroenterologist sat me down in his office to tell me about all of the Jewish women in their 20s that come to him with stomach pain. Our guts feel the conflicting pressures of time and are knotting up under the heaviness. That’s it. The sickness is real.

Baruch HaShem I no longer suffer consistent pangs in my intestines, but reconciling my riddle with time is a constant struggle. How can I enjoy anything when I’m totally freaked out about fitting it all in? I feel like I need to hurry, but I know that that’s not the answer … and I’m on the edge of relinquishing it all to the God(s). 

xo,

Shaina

ps. You found my old journals?! That makes me nervous. 

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Speaking of time, the Meyer Lemon Risotto with Peas and Asparagus recipe below needs to made right now if you want to take advantage of Spring produce. Don’t waste one second of prime asparagus time! Spring is running away! It’s making me nervous! Go go go!

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The Herby Pretty Lentil and Yogurt Salad is good for all of summer (phewww). In fact, my to-do list inspired me to brainstorming for Shavuot weeks in advance. I have three days off of school for the holiday and am hoping to do some sort of cooking/eating with family. The Shavuot custom is to serve a dairy – I wanted to come with something other than blintzes and cheesecake (mostly because those things are so tricky to make!). This salad is a great solution – dairy and healthy and summer. But mostly I like it because it’s colorful. I brought it to Tan’s house for a family lunch last Shabbat and it was a hit. This recipe is proof that good things can come from time-induced anxiety. 

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Herby Pretty Lentil and Yogurt Salad

Serves 3-5

Prep time: 15 minutes if you have ingredients prepped in advance, 45 if you’re starting from scratch

  • 2 cup cooked beluga lentils
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw purple cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded with a cheese grater
  • 1 cup kohlrabi (optional), shredded with a cheese grater
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt (greek if you want a thicker mix)
  • 3 heaping tbs of zesty dill pesto**

Zesty Dill Pesto*

makes enough for the salad plus many, many more servings (if you’re gonna do it, do it big)

  • 1 bunch of fresh dill (approx 1 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives
  • handful of fresh parsley (approx 1/2 cup)
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp good black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • Additional fixings:
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tbs olive oil

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First, make your pesto. I’m obssesed with fresh dill. I chop it up in all of my salads and eat it in surprising pairings. My newest breakfast is a rice cake with almond butter, sea salt, and fresh dill. I know, I’m weird. This pesto is great to have on hand for when I want to add some excitment to my daily salad in a hurry. Just one tablespoon in a bowl of chopped veggies, and you have an exciting meal. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the ingredients, but don’t worry – its easy! Just take all of the ingredients (make sure you wash herbs thoroughly) and add to a food processor. Blend until you have a nice puree. I like my pestos hardy and thick, but if you wish to thin it out, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil or more. The quantities I’ve suggested will yield plenty more than you will need for this salad. Additional olive oil will help to preserve it longer if you’re not eating it every day (every meal?) like I am. 

The rest is REALLY easy. First, mix your dill pesto with yogurt for a green beauty paste. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix with the chopped and shredded veggies, garlic, walnuts, salt and pepper. Then, fold the salad into the yogurt and herb mixture. Throw in a handful of golden raisins if you want a nice tang. Serve over arugula and drizzle with olive oil. 

Meyer Lemon Risotto with Peas and Asparagus

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Serves 5-6

Prep time: 1 hour

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock 
  • zest of 4 Meyer lemons 
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped and  lightly steamed
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • fresh black pepper

Heat olive oil and add onions, garlic and salt until onions are translucent. Add arborio rice and stir until coated. Add wine and simmer for 4 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Adjust heat to a simmer. Slowly, add water or vegetable stock half a cup at a time. Stir frequently. This may take 45 minutes. 

When all liquid is fully absorbed, remove from heat and stir in lemon zest, frozen peas, and steamed asparagus. Garnish with plenty of black pepper, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. IMG_9190

ps. this is what Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut look like in Jerusalem

ps. this is what Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut look like in Jerusalem

♦ It’s All OK

Dear Shaina,

I’m good with the topic change. The parents and child are clearly OK. But your shamelessness about poop is the result of neither good nor bad parenting, simply genetics.

Dad and I are cleaning out the attic and I came upon reams of your journals and “All About Me” books from Kindergarten on. You may not have talked much, but you sure did write and tell. You wrote about friends and family, sleepovers and seders and doing stuff with Dad and me. Those pages brought back neglected memories and allowed me a peek into your eight year old world. You seemed pretty happy. Clearly OK. I am grateful to you for your writing, now and then.

Your visit home flew by. Things were easy. Maybe we are mastering our new roles in this phase of your transient life. Mother: let go of household order, pick up (clothes, tea bags, mason jars), clean up (kitchen counters, floors, tabletops) buy food, put child to bed, enjoy the moments. Visiting daughter: mark your territory (foyer, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom), cook, buy food and tea, eat, drink tea (in large mason jars left in marked territories), run, spin, do homework, say good night. It all goes very smoothly once everyone knows their place.

It wasn’t all mundane. Thirty minutes before I was having people over I got a call from you to pick you up because you had a nasty fall while out on a run and couldn’t walk home…but you were OK!  So what’s a little oozing blood running down your leg a week before you are in a wedding wearing a short dress! Just another little activity for us to focus on; wound care, dressings, antibacterial ointments, non-stick pads, adhesive tape.  Amazingly, you made it to the wedding with only a little clear oozing and zero impact on your dancing ability.

Shaina skinned knee

Then there was that little weather incident the night before you left…a tornado headed right our way.  Down to the basement bathroom outfitted with blankets, pillows, water, iPad and disaster head gear. The tornado changed its mind and lost its steam. We got another chance to cuddle up in close quarters… and everything turned out OK.

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And the excitement goes on… We were having a little drainage problem in the kitchen and your Dad decided that he could easily handle a simple sluggish kitchen drain. I wish I had pictures. It was right out of central casting; balding man sitting on the the floor hunched over, head under the sink, butt crack showing, tools in hand. Three failed attempts later, accompanied by three major floods of gushing foul smelling, black crud laden water all over the hardwood (now slightly warped) floors requiring every last towel in the house to sop up all the water, he slips in the laundry room on the wet tile and smashes his elbow. I’m OK, he says.

 

Towels & elbow

A real plumber arrived this morning. Dad’s elbow looks a lot better and thankfully, nothing is broken. Except, after clearing the clog, the main drain collapsed only to produce the fourth kitchen flood complete with bits of rusted pipe metal. They are replacing the main line tomorrow.

Dad and I are going to New Orleans for a long weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day and our 30th anniversary. Hard to believe. Despite the bumps and bruises along the way, we are all more than OK and that is a blessing!

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Miss you so much!

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxoxoxoxooxo

Stuffed Portobello MushroomsIMG_3636

Dad and I were at Whole Foods (a habit we picked up from you) and got mesmerized by the multitude of exotic rice varieties in the bulk section. We bought some of each of our favorite colors and ended up with a lot of interesting looking rice. I pulled out my never-used rice cooker and decided to test it out. I made a lot of multicolored rice! My first plan was stir-fried veggies over rice. That was a great meal, but I got left with a whole bunch of cooked rice.

You know I am the queen of leftovers. I can’t bear to throw out good food. This turned out be a good week to test my leftover re-invention skills. I happened upon some incredibly large fresh portobello mushrooms and knew exactly where I wanted to go. They turned out to be a real treat and an opportunity to use lots of leftover bits and pieces including the rice. Anything goes in this recipe, so look to your fridge for leftover inspiration.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Phase I)

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  • 4 large Portobello Mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for brushing and sautéing
  • 1 onion, chopped (leeks, green onions or shallots can also be used)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 3/4 cups pumpkin seeds (or sunflower or pine nuts or cashew pieces or any other nut)
  • 3-4 Cups cooked rice (any variety)
  • 3/4 cups craisins (or currants or raisins)
  • Liberal amounts of fresh or dried herbs (basil, dill, tarragon, thyme, whatever you like) and spices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup shredded Jarlsburg Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Lightly brush mushrooms with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.

Place face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sauté chopped onion and fresh garlic in olive oil.

Lightly roast pumpkin seeds or other nuts in a toaster oven or dry frying pan.

Place rice in a large bowl and mix in onions, garlic, pumpkin seeds, craisins, herbs and spices and salt and pepper to taste. Rice can take a lot of flavor so don’t be skimpy with the spices. I threw in some leftover pesto, fresh dill and thyme that were sitting in the refrigerator and lots of sea salt and black pepper.
IMG_3685Mix the tahini and lemon juice and a little water to make a tahini sauce and blend into the rice mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Spoon a large mound of the rice mixture onto each mushroom.

Place in the oven pre-heated to 375° and bake for about 10-15 minutes until heated through and the mushroom is cooked through. This may take more or less time depending on the size of the mushrooms and the amount of rice.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded cheese over the top of each stuffed mushroom. Top with toasted sesame seeds and return baking sheet to oven.IMG_3630

Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. If you like your cheese a little more well done, you can turn on the broiler for a few minutes.

 

This makes a great vegetarian, gluten free lunch or dinner served with a hearty green salad and avocado slices. Very tasty and filling. It would also make a great side dish for a meat or fish dinner.

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Esther’s Portobello Rice  & Eggs Benedict (Phase II)

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This dish reminded Dad of Eggs Benedict (the structure, not the taste) so we tried it for brunch one day adding fried eggs and a tahini sour cream sauce…and we finally finished that rice!

 

Tahini Sour Cream SauceIMG_3684

  • 2 tablespoons Tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon water ( or enough to make it a sauce consistency)
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley or Cilantro for garnish

 

 

Variations
Add chopped spinach, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes with some oregano and basil to the rice for a different taste. Top with Feta cheese.
Throw in leftover grilled vegetables and add tarragon and parsley.  Top with sharp cheddar cheese.
Try an Indian theme with Greek yogurt, curry, ginger, cinnamon, raisins
and cardamom. Top with a curried lentil sauce.

 

 

◊ On My Way Back

 

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Dear mom,

I know I started it, but I REALLY want to change the topic. I’m tired of this working-mom-only-child-guilt back and forth grumble. I just have one thing left to say: I can’t decide whether my lack of embarrassment about you mentioning my green poop in public is an indication of good or bad parenting. I have zero shame about my vibrant digestive tract and blue jello/kool-aid habit.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.18.39 PMRegardless of how that relates to your parenting skills, let’s give ourselves hardy pats on the back to forgive the mistakes and acknowledge our okay-ness and move the F on. Or do you need more space to process?

Passover is over, Natalya’s wedding is over and the opulent days of cooking, eating and celebrating together have come to a pause. I am now laying on the floor of terminal 4 at JFK, legs up the wall, trying to get some blood flowing before hours of cramped feet on my flight back to Israel.

I was weirdly not looking forward to coming home for Passover and now I’m weirdly not looking forward to returning to Israel for the rest of the semester. I feel disconnected from life there after being away for only three weeks. Whenever I come home, I sleep too much, eat too much, whine too much, throw my clothes on the floor like someone will pick them up for me (because someone most always does) and am reckless at the grocery store. I regress. I just want to crawl back under my big down comforter and go shopping at Whole Foods when I wake up. The energy required to have responsibilities again is daunting.

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Things at home were good. There were no tears at any of the family dinners; yelling in front of strangers was kept to a minimum; we only did one round of shots before each Seder and your gefilte fish was good; conversations were tame. I didn’t even pick up any quotable Abe references. There’s not much to report about Natalya’s wedding either — it was just plain fun.

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So the visit was good and normal, which is strange. Maybe I built up the eccentricities of our family and friends in my head while I was away… but I’m pretty certain that all this normality is not normal for us. Am I disappointed by the lack of crazy? Maybe just bored.

This is why our blog is important … Now, after this small reflection, I am feeling more optimistic about getting back to the streets that no one is allowed to forget that Moses, Jesus, Mohamed and Natalie Portman worshiped… To using physical force against hunchbacked old women in our fight for the best cucumbers in wrinkled veggie bins at the market … To bearing the strength of my elbows as I squeeze my body onto buses. In a few hours I’ll be back to this craziness and more. Until then I’ll muster the will to go back to being in charge of my life. It seems hard and fun and I’ll still miss home.

xo,

Shaina

Below are a few of the Passover recipes I mentioned in our previous post for Passover ideas. I will say that year was our best year for Seder food yet. Especially the Yemini Charozet… yum. IMG_2266

Dvora’s Yemini Charozet

  • 2/3 cup walnutsIMG_2232
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 inch slice of ginger root
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tbs ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne powder

 

First, toast walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds separately. Spread nuts evenly on tray and place into toaster oven on 350 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. All toaster ovens work at different speeds, so check frequently… nuts go from toasted to burnt very quickly (especially the sesame seeds!), so be vigilant.

Once nuts are toasted, dump dates, raisins and spices into a food processor and add orange juice as needed. Add walnuts and almond once the fruit is blended and pulse until nuts are crushed, but not pureed. Once desired consistency has been reached, stir in sesame seeds. If you are nervous about the spices, you can stir them in afterwards. The result should be sweet with a spicy edge. This charozet doubles as a jam – the cumin is a surprising touch. It’s perfect treat to swirled into yogurt or spread over an apple.

 

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Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 8 Persian cucumbers
  • 2/3 C raw peanuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (about 3 big handfuls of loose cilantro)

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp chili flakes or ground cayenne (depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs salad vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or honey
  • dash of sea salt

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Creamy Avocado Quinoa with fresh dill

  • IMG_22883 medium zucchinis, cut into 3/4-inch circles
  • 3 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch circles
  • 
1 1/2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 
dash of sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 
zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 
2 cloves grushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (optional)
  • 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature (I use tri-color quinoa)

Garnish with:

  • 
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup goat feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 
chopped fresh dill

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Preheat oven to 375 on convection setting. Place zucchini and squash coin in large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread thinly on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place into oven for 15 – 25 minutes, until outer edges become brown and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, mash all of the dressing items together with the back of a fork into a creamy sauce. Gently fold dressing and zucchini and squash into quinoa. Garnish with dill, feta cheese and pine nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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