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Showing posts from October, 2008

Non-Diet Shabbat

As I mentioned in my previous post, Asaf is in Poland.  When I cook for Shabbat, I try to minimize foods that are not on his diet.  Since he is not here, we are eating all the foods that he cannot eat; Potatoes, Barley, Mushrooms and Chocolate!
We have two sets of three young ladies coming to stay with us for Shabbat.  Both heard about us from our business cards.  It seems that our marketing campaign is working!  For the first time this year, one of the guests is a vegetarian.  Oh well, just another cooking challenge.
I've been paging through cookbooks and many of the "winter" recipes are for stuffed vegetables.  This week, I tried two recipes for Stuffed Tomatoes; one meat and one vegetarian.  The meat recipe calls for beef, rice, onions and crushed tomatoes in a sweet tomato sauce.  The vegetarian version uses corn, white kidney beans, dill and eggs.  The meat version looks marvelous.  The tomatoes held together and the rice cooked up nicely.
Unfortunately, the vegetarian…

Asaf's Trip to Poland

There is a common practice in Israel to take a 12th grade trip to Poland.  In the religious circles, the trip is bi-polar.  One the one hand, you go to all the major concentration and death camps, seeing the worst of the German's atrocities.  On the other hand, you go to shtetels and towns to see how we lived before the war.  Its a very intense trip.  I went with my oldest' class two year ago and I will never forget the images, the pain and the people who were with me on that trip.
This year, my son Asaf went on the Poland trip.  As you probably know, Asaf is suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease and is in the process of finding a donor for a transplant.  We got special permission for his trip from the doctors, the school and the health management organization (HMO).  The problem is not that he is too unhealthy to go, but that first, he might suddenly get worse because of the stress and secondly, because Poland is one of the places that people go to purchase "grey market&q…

Tas Kebab - Turkish Beef Stew

One of our "standards" is a beef and rice dish called Tas Kebab.  I've been asked for the recipe many times.   This is comfort food that anyone can love.   Its great right out of the oven, but its also good reheated the next day (on a hotplate for Shabbat Lunch!).  There are no liquids, so its good for anyone who reheats.

1 Kg beef, cut into bite size pieces Oil for frying 1 to 2 large onions, chopped 3 red bell peppers, chopped 1 large can crushed tomatoes 1.5 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp cinnamon 1 cup water or bullion 1 cup rice chopped parsley (optional)
The quantities can be adjusted.  Sometimes I make it with 3 onions and no peppers, or with one onion and three peppers.   A lot depends on how coarsely you chop the onions.  The intention is to make them visible and not just a seasoning.
In a large covered pot, add the oil and saute the onions and peppers until they are soft.  Add the tomatoes and spices.  Since you are using canned crushed tomatoes, the liquid from th…

University Strikes and Elections

My primary job these days is as a Phd Candidate in the Computer Science Department of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI).   I've been at it for three years already and probably have another two to go before I finish my degree.  One of the things I like best about being in a university environment is the chance to interact with students.  I really enjoy teaching.   Part of the fun is that I'm an extrovert and teaching is like theater.   The other part is that teaching really sharpens your understanding of a topic.
As you may have heard, the university presidents in Israel have decided not to open the new school year.  The problem started three years ago with the Shochat Commission on Higher Education.   The commission was tasked with addressing the declining state of higher education is Israel caused by years of budget cuts and brain drain to the United States.
During the commission hearings, it became clear to student leadership that the resulting report would recommend a…

Real Life

The holidays are over and its time to settle into the real world once again.  A friend mentioned that a better term would be the "physical world" to separate the concept from the spiritual world that we occupied during the holidays.  Take your pick.
Once again we were invited out for a meal!  It is so nice to be able to visit with friends and to not have to wash the dishes afterwards.   Tomorrow, we have guests; my wife's best friend and her daughter, a family from the community (two adults and a teenager), and two young ladies who are studying in Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, we finished reading the complete Torah and started again at the beginning.  Our family is intrigued and challenged by Breshit.  As opposed to the later books which deal with nationalist issues and innumerable laws, Breshit is all about people.   We love to talk about how they were real people and not perfect white knights.  It gives us hope that even with our own flaws, we can still reach for greatness.
Whil…

Episoding

Episoding: The act of watching multiple episodes of a television series in one sitting.
We live outside of the United States and have no access to any of the major network television stations.  But thanks to the wonder of the Internet, we can watch television shows within hours of their first broadcast time. 
Unfortunately, this leads to a condition that we call episoding.  For example, we love Gordon Ramsey.  He is passionate about cooking and about the business of feeding people.  Gordon is the host of Kitchen Nightmares, first as a series in the UK and now in the US.  Each episode is designed for a one hour time slot, which means that there is approximately 40 minutes of material and 20 minutes of commercials.  
When we first started watching Kitchen Nightmares, we were hooked.  You couldn't just watch one episode at a time.  My wife and I would typically watch at least three in one sitting.  We were episoding.
My boys are worse.  If they catch wind of a good series, they can watch…

Pictures of our guests

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When I started this blog, I tried to upload pictures of our guests after Shabbat. Unfortunately, we had a camera stolen and then were without for some time. Once we finally purchased a new camera, I had already fallen out of practice. So this post is an attempt to catch up. Here are some of the wonderful guests that have visited us in the past month.  As you can see from the pictures, we still haven't figured out how to use the camera correctly!
They are:
Sarah Berlin from Baltimore and Leah Amer  from Chicago

Shira Moskowitz, Jackie Bernstein, Defna Fine and Ariella Winter
Hayah and Ester from Los Angeles and Afikei Torah
Jake Goldstein and Noam Grysvan from Yeshivat Har Etzion and Toronto



























It was a pleasure to meet these wonderful people. We hope their year in Israel is healthy and meaningful. We also hope that they will eventually come and live here with the rest of Am Yisrael.

Sukkot Part 1

Its yet another Friday (actually, its Monday), and we are preparing for Shabbat (actually, the first day of Sukkot). �Let's try that again.
Its Monday and we are preparing for the first day of Sukkot. �As I mentioned in a previous post, we have no company staying with us. �That's probably a good thing this time, because we are dealing with our house. �We built our house 10 years ago, and its furnishings are almost all from that time. �Did you know that most household appliances have a 10 year lifetime! �So, that means that a lot of our stuff is falling apart. �The plastic parts of our refrigerator are breaking or broken. � Our standalone freezer stopped freezing Erev Shabbat. �Our washing machine broke. �Our dryer has been broken for almost two years. �My wife refuses to use it,�preferring�to rely on the Sun. Although we know its broken, she will not make the effort to fix it. � Its just that time of year and we need to either get things fixed or replace them.
I have been pleasa…

Post Fast, Pre Shabbat

Yom Kippur is past us.  For me, this was an unusual fast.  It started on Wednesday when I woke up with a stomach flu.  No food for me.  I subsisted on tea and honey.  What a way to prepare for a fast.  Kil Nidre went by in a fog.  I sat the whole time since I didn't have much strength at that point.  Fortunately, a 12 hour nap brought me back to full strength and the rest of the fast went fast.   No headache this year, which I can either attribute to not eating the day before, or to having new reading glasses.  Your guess is as good as mine.
I am a bit worried about all the seminary girls this year.  We had a virtual flood of girls pre and port Rosh Hashana, but now, we have no-one.  So, what gives?  I think that the girls just forgot that there were soooo many holiday's back to back.  I am expecting some desperate calls in the next few days.
Last shabbat, we had a dairy meal for Shabbat lunch.  We liked it so much that I'm going to try a dairy meal for dinner tonight and a …

Kidney Update

Its been some time since I gave an update on the state of the kidneys. The short answer is that there is no change. Things are stable on both fronts (my sons and mine), and we are moving forward with finding a donor for my son.

The details are that my nephrologist has been threatening to do a biopsy for about six months. He's finally asked me to do it, some I'm trying to get the HMO to pay for it and the hospital to schedule it. Since I only have one kidney, they will not just poke a needle into my abdomen. My options are either laporoscopic surgery under full anesthesia or something new, called a transjugular biopsy. I understand that the second option means sticking a tube in my jugular vein and threading it into my kidney. Supposedly, its less invasive and does requires only local anesthesia. Oh joy!

On Asaf's side of the board, we are moving forward with our donors. We sent the test results for three people to the hospital. They finally called us up and asked us…

Tired and Full

Rosh Hashana is past us. For some reason, I never felt relaxed during this years services. There is a lot going on in our family, and we hosted a large number of guests for meals. All told, I felt like I was moving from prayer to meal to prayer to meal for two straight days.

The company we had was nice and for the first time in many Rosh Hashanas, we didn't screw up any meals. Our guests ate and were satisified. YEAH!

We on the other hand are like wet rags. The thought of another meat meal is almost too much. One of our neighbors (god bless their house) invited us for dinner tonight. It will probably be meat (as opposed to dairy), but just being in a different environment should be a nice break.

Tomorrow, we break the mold. We are serving fish and dairy for lunch! This is a bit strange for me, since I seem to focus on making meat dishes, but sometimes you just got to change. Some time ago, I received a deep fryer. It feels like feast or famine. Either I'm using it a…