◊ Filling space

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Dear mom,

I don’t want you to feel responsible for me feeling responsible for your worry. I’m not blaming you for it either. I’m just telling you how I feel. Isn’t that what you want? Such mixed messages! …  And more mother-induced trauma.

Just kidding. I’m over it. Glad that you and your chaise finally found homes.

Home. Some people seem to slide in easily. They appear comfortable in their space no matter what surrounds them. I am not one of those people. I’ve re-made home enough to know that I must put deliberate effort into feeling oriented and grounded. The process is always slow and harrowing.IMG_6234

I try to expedite it by walking around aimlessly (usually in the direction of a grocery store) to learn the grounds. I mark new territory with familiar scents  – I burn candles, incense, cookies. I fill new space with things that mark my permanence – glass containers of grains and spices, tubs of tea, jars of oils and lotions, bottles of nail polish.  Also rituals. Tea in the morning; Shabbat dinner; roasting vegetables Sunday afternoon; long runs on the weekend.

One of my favorite time and space-marking rituals is our annual Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Cleanse. It helps me understand the passage of time, connect with my body and reflect. This year’s cleanse seems particularly important.

As is, the cleanse dietary rituals are easy for me. I want an additional mind-body challenge.

Rebecca inspired me to consider meditation as a daily practice. I do not have patience for stillness. Thus, I will be incorporating 10 minutes of daily meditation in my 10 day cleanse. I’m already annoyed by the time commitment, but I need to be forced to take a pause. For the past year, I have been moving at lightening speed, and I need processing time in order to feel oriented.

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In the spirit of the cleanse, below are two cleanse appropriate, Rosh Hashana inspired recipes. You will be here in three days to see my home firsthand! I’m really looking forward to shlepping you to Berkeley Bowl and making Rosh Hashana meals together.

Xo,

Shaina

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For most people, the high holidays smell like warm chunks of meet and heavy kugels. My High Holiday food memories are decorated with colorful salads. Our post-service lunches always contain a large variety of salads – big bowls of kale with avocado, pomegranate studded tabouleh, etc – for starving guests to nosh when they first arrive from after never-ending morning services. My new salad idea is just sweet enough to be Rosh Hashana appropriate: chopped apples, arugula and celery in a creamy honey- tahini dressing.

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Chopped Apples, Arugula and Celery with Creamy Honey-Tahini Dressing

Serves: 5 – 10 depending on portion size

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Dressing:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbs honey (nix it for the cleanse)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vingegar
  • 1/3 cup crude tahini
  • plenty of fresh black pepper

Salad:

  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 3 – 4 good, sweet, crunchy apples, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups arugula, chopped
  • 2 medium stalks of spring onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts

First, make the dressing. Make sure your garlic is crushed well and herbs are finely chopped. Add all ingredients to a jar or bowl. Stir well, until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Add black pepper as desired. Let sit for at least one hour before use.

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No more than one hour before serving, chop celery, apples, arugula and spring onions. Toast and crush walnuts and allow to cool. Pile all ingredients in a bowl, add 1/3 c dressing and toss until apples, arugula and celery pieces are coated. Serve immediately.

 

Green Goddess Tahini Dressing

Serves: many, many salads

Prep time: 15 minutes

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This dressing livens up any salad. It’s grain mixed into grain bowls, slathered over roasted veggies or tossed into simple lettuce salads.

  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1 bunch fresh scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbs lemon zest
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

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Simply place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth liquid consistency is formed. Add salt and pepper too taste. If too pungent, add additional yogurt.

In the salad pictured, I topped a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, roasted beets and chopped arugula with swirls of Green Goddess dressing, tahini, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.

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♦ Home

Dear Shaina,

I never intended you to feel responsible for my worry. In turn, I don’t want to take responsibility for your annoyance or have to censor my feelings. I remind myself daily that it is not my job to make your life OK. You are very capable of doing that yourself. That doesn’t stop me from feeling your angst or wanting to hear about it. A final note on worry and then I hope we can move on…a Bubbe quote…The bigger the child, the bigger the worries. That’s just the way it is!

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I am sitting on my chaise lounge in our newly redone bedroom. The same chaise lounge that has been with me since my early adulthood in Cleveland. It was the first real piece of furniture I ever bought and was a major splurge at the time. It has lived in all my homes, has been transformed by new upholstery and has traveled from living room to bedroom to basement den and now to its new place in our bedroom. I think it has finally found its home…after 30 + years. I am sitting on it, beside a window with my computer and a mug of coffee on a side table. I am also finally at home in this room.

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It think finding home takes longer than we think. It’s not that I wasn’t at home in this house that we have lived in for thirty years. It’s just that the gradual tweaking and adjusting evolves over time. Kind of like getting into bed at night…you plop down and then you adjust your pillow because it doesn’t feel like its in exactly the right spot and you move your body around until you get into a comfortable position and you’re still not done. The process continues as you adjust your environment, almost unconsciously, in response to the cues your body is sending…that is, if you’re listening. The knowing and blending and balancing of the internal and external is forever.

Dad's work!

Dad’s work!

You have the gift of both listening and responding to your comfort cues. Berkeley may not be the perfect home for you forever, but I know you will tweak all that can be tweaked to make it as much home for you as possible for now.

We will be there in a week and I have already started gathering your stuff to bring to you. I am looking forward to seeing you and doing my part to help you settle in.

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I have been doing some baking for the upcoming weddings and decided to make Naomi’s Chocolate Streusel Bars. As always, they turned out great and everybody loves them. I am sharing the recipe here because people keep asking for it. I won’t have room to bring them to you, but we can always make some in your kitchen.

I am so looking forward to being with you in a week!

Love,
Mom
xoooxoxoxoxxoxo

Naomi’s Chocolate Streusel Bars

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  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can(14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 2 cups(12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts

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1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
2. Stir together flour, sugar and cocoa in large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg; mix well. Set aside 1-1/2 cups mixture. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.
3. Bake 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium microwave-safe bowl, place sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup chocolate chips; stir. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred; pour over crust. Add nuts and remaining chips to reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle over top.
4. Bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 24 to 36 bars.

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◊ Slowly Slowly

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Dear mom,

I get it. Mothers worry. I want to be less annoyed.

Were you always like this?

I don’t remember feeling the weight of your worry as a kid – you definitely were not one of those moms concerned with what I watched on TV, food regulations, where and with whom I played, bed-times, homework, germs …

Dealing with your all-consuming worry feels new to me. Maybe the difference is that now my own plate of worries is full. It’s hard to move when I’m balancing your stack on top of my own. Unless you hanker after a messy spill, get it under control or keep it to yourself.

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I worry that I’m not in the right place even though people keep telling me that Berkeley is so me. I miss Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv. I miss people who speak with aggression and move with intensity and smile only when it’s real. I’m in shock from all the health food, health centers and health activities. I want Bamba. Why is no one blowing smoke in my face or coughing on me or cursing at me because of how I’m dressed? What is a co-op, exactly? Why are people out and about 7 days a week? Strangers here don’t ask about what I’m doing or push me out of the way or try to set me up with their neighbor’s son’s friend… but it feels like they’re always staring if I use the trash bin instead of compost.  Why are bus drivers nice to me? Does it mean that I have to be nice back?

View of the bay from my new home

view from my new home

I worry that I won’t get it, but I know that it takes time to feel comfortable in any new place. So I’ll carry on, integrating pieces of Berkeley into my life slowly, slowly (shwai shwai ). I’ll wait patiently for things to feel right. This recipe is part of the effort: vegetarian, organic, spicy, probiotic, omega fatty acids — so Berkeley.

Xo,

Shaina

Ps. Thanks for washing and folding my loads and loads of very dirty clothes. I don’t think I had so many pieces of underwear to choose from since high school.

Pps. This recipe is also prep for our third Esrei Yamim Cleanse, starting September 26th! I can’t wait.

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Roasted Moroccan Spiced Carrots

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  • 7 medium carrots, cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs Moroccan spice blend*
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • ½ c golden raisins

Coat carrot slices in olive oil, Moroccan spices and salt. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 40-minutes, stirring them halfway through the cooking time to distribute the heat.

After 40 minutes, add the golden raisins and and sesame seeds. Mix in and leave in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven, stir again and let cool.

*See below for Moroccan spice recipe

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Moroccan Carrot, Yogurt and Avocado Bowl

  • Generous scoop of greek or plain yogurt
  • ½ cup roasted Moroccan spiced carrots
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc for garnish
  • Salt and black pepper as desired

Pile carrots on top of  of yogurt in a bowl. Top with ½ cup of roasted carrots, avocado and pumpkin/sunflower seeds. Add salt and fresh black pepper as desired.

Moroccan Spice Blend

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

♦ Stuff

Dear Shaina,
From bombs to earthquakes … a 100 pounds of the past year of your life dumped onto the living room floor exchanged for 100 pounds of clean neatly folded clothing and stuff, a wedding, a haircut, a massage, five filled cavities, three finished papers, two shabbats and only a few minor mother-daughter skirmishes (that I have completely forgotten although I am sure they happened) all squeezed into eight harried days and nine nighttime ritual tuck-ins. Your time at home was a blur, a treasured blur.

And then came the inevitable crash…the wandering through the quiet house, the gathering up of cast away clothing and unfinished jars of tea, the search for the reset button that would push me back into my daily routine…and let’s not forget the crash that shook the earth beneath you a mere nine hours after you arrived in the San Francisco area. There is no end for us weary worriers.

Fortunately for my mental health, the mothers are on my side. They get it. They all know and assured me that someday, you will too. It’s just what mothers do, no matter where their kids are, what they’re doing or how old they are. We worry. It’s not a problem. I feel fortunate to have the privilege of having someone to worry about. And like the other mothers, I have a perverse sense of anticipation, hope and glee at the prospect of you having the very same experience. So cut me some slack.

Progress...slowly but surely!

Progress…slowly but surely!

This moment in time feels like a major transitional period for all of us. Yours is more obvious; moving to a new city, honing in on a career path, forging a new life. Dad and I are just renovating a bedroom and bathroom. I was caught off guard by how jarring this would be; sifting through all our stuff, reading letters and papers, looking at pictures and mementos, deciding what is trash and what is treasure. This stuff prods us relentlessly to evaluate, to question, to take charge, to accept.

Dad and I have spent hours sitting on the deck at the end of the day, a glass of wine in hand, talking about stuff; how to become free of the unimportant stuff, how to translate our good fortune into what is meaningful and pleasurable to us and mostly, to know the difference. We are working on spending your inheritance while insuring that we can be cared for when the time comes.

My old vanity finding a place in our new bathroom.

My old vanity finding a place in our new bathroom.

This phase of our lives will be shorter than the ones that came before and that is more freeing and motivating than scary. We know that today may be the best day of our lives and we are trying to make each one count. In the meantime, if there is anything you need or want, now’s the time. We’re in the final quarter of the game and pulling out all the stops.

I am looking forward to our trip to the west coast and can’t wait to see you in your new home and hear all about your new ramped up life as a journalism student.

Love, Mom
xoxooxoxoxoxoo

Garden Herbed Meatballs

I know you don’t eat meat, but I had to figure out a last minute appetizer for Shabbat and I had some ground tenderloin in the freezer and lots of herbs in the garden and…well, it just happened. You could probably adapt this for some veggie variety. I served them with hummus. They would have been great with some tahini sauce, but I’m out. Gail and Abe promised to bring some back from Israel. Next time.

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2 large chopped onions
2 – 4 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
olive oil
1- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup matzoh meal or bread crumbs
1 squirt of hot chili sauce to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Fresh chopped tarragon, basil, oregano, thyme and lots of mint or whatever you can find in the garden
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon allspice
black pepper to taste
1 cup sundried tomatoes or oven roasted tomatoes
Fresh parsley for garnish

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Place onions and garlic in a food processor and chop into small coarse chunks. Remove half of the chopped onion and garlic and place it in a large sauté plan with a very small amount of olive oil and sauté lightly.

Place ground beef in a large bowl and add two eggs, matzoh meal and chili sauce. Mix together.

Add fresh herbs to the remaining chopped onion and garlic mixture in the food processor and chop together until finely chopped. Add all of the remaining chopped mixture to the ground beef. Add remaining spices and mix the beef mixture thoroughly.

Add the sundried tomatoes or oven roasted tomatoes to the lightly sautéed onion and garlic in the large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until blended.

Make small bite sized meatballs and sauté in the onion-garlic-tomato mixture until browned on all sides. Continue until all meatballs are cooked. Drain meatballs on paper towel if needed.

The onion and tomato mixture will become very browned and crispy and can be used to top the meatballs when serving.

Top with fresh parsley and crispy onion-tomato mixture and serve warm. They go great with hummus or tahini sauce.