Friday, September 23, 2011

Currently Reading...

1. "Mudbound" by Hilary Jordan. I am almost done. I really recommend it. I will be discussing it in a book club I was invited to by Angie next week. I was also invited to a Delta Gamma alumni group book club that I will try to attend - the book they picked sounds good too - it's called "Wanderlust". Neither book club seems to have picked books for the next few months, which bothers me. I always like to know ahead of time, this way I can plan which book I want to read, etc. I can also order them all together on amazon. Although I suspect I will soon be converted to the kindle.

2. A few different articles for school (masters) on the Hebrew school issue and the fact that our youth is over programmed and it's just not working. Ugh, no magic solution yet.

3. About a hundred different books on high holidays and sukkot to finish up the family program on October 9th. I got about 7 responses from NATE list serve (National Association of Temple Educators) where people just sent me their ENTIRE programs, organized to the T that they have done for Sukkot form past years. They include supplies lists and post-programs critiques, etc. WOW!

Speaking of Sukkot, Charlie and I had our palm fronds removed, and cut down the three pine trees in the back (wow those pine needles SUCKED!). I thought that the palm fronds would be perfect for the s'chach of the sukkah (the material that we need to use as a roof for it),

For those who do not know what a Sukkah is, it is a "hut" that you build that has to be made of temporary/natural material, has an open wall, you have to see the stars through the top. You usually decorate it with colorful paper chains, hanging fruit, lights if you want, etc. You have it up and eat your meals in it during the holiday Sukkot, "Feast of Tabernacles"

We ended up having SO MUCH, enough for a lot of sukkot (plural of sukkah). We'll obviously give some to my parents and use for ours if Charlie ends up building one. If anybody needs palm fronds, let us know! The backyard smells like a forrest - very piny, I want to go to a log cabin!

Shabbat Shalom Ya'll!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ilana Shapiro's cookie recipe

The day we got engaged I went over to Ilana's house for Israeli dancing right after - my mom had to drive me I was so jittery. We were dancing up a storm and Ilana made these cookies. They were huge and thick and chewy. So So SOOOO good. Here is her recipe

• 2 sticks unsalted butter
• 2 1/4 cups bread flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
3. Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips (or whatever you want to add in).
4. Chill the dough for at least an hour, then scoop onto baking sheets ( Ilana uses a 1.5 oz scoop) , 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes at 375 or until golden brown, checking the cookies every few minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. This makes around 20 cookies...and they are big and thick. Enjoy!!

Modification - I made them a smaller the second time around because they were going to serve a lot of people, (I hosted a DG bbq at our house - by the way, our neighbor across the street is a dg alum!). I reduced the cooking time to about 10 minutes, and they came out really good, but a tiny bit browned at the bottom, so if you are going to make "normal sized cookies" I would suggest 8 or so minutes. They come out so good though when they are thick (they are chewy either way).


a bit of cooking

A few weeks ago I decided to utilize our 'engagement" herb garden. A lot of the herbs had died from it just being too darn hot, but since I cut all the dead leaves off, and used a lot of the good ones, they have now grown back quickly and are staying nice and green! 

Above is the basil I was able to use. I made a pesto and marinated some chicken. It's in the freezer still - will use for a big batch of weekend cooking at some point.

This is the curry plant. A lot of it had dried up from the heat. I used this with some tikka paste and chicken broth and chicken in the crock pot. It came out spicy and delicious, and lasted us FOREVER. The last bit of it I served over pasta and mixed goat cheese into the sauce. Yum!

A week and a half ago we had the Schlossbergs over for Shabbat dinner. Remy was my student in 8th grade and she is now in 10th grade, and I still have a very close relationship with her. This year they have taken in a girl named Noa who is a junior in high shcool from a reform jewish community in Israel that my synagogue sponsored to come as a student ambassador for four months. I wanted to make an Israeli dinner so I had a specialty bread made that you always get in Jerusalem and eat with zaatar, I made cheese bourekas, served Israeli pickles and olives, fresh pita, and we had rice and "ktzitzot". Ktzitzot are basically "patties" of anything, and they are usually about the size of a meatball, but flat. They can be meat (usually) but you can also do turkey or chicken (what I usually do) and you can make them with anything! You can shred up vegetables and bind it with egg, coat it in breadcrumbs and pan fry it, and it's a ktzitza! I made two different kinds. 

In the left bowl is a packet of very lean turkey meat, a small bit of lean beef, an onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, and ketchup. You basically mix it all up in a food processor, add salt and stir it in (if you put salt in the food processor it can dull the blade), let it sit for a bit in the fridge, and then form it into small meatball sized patties, and pan fry it. 

On the right, I have ground chicken, peanut butter, fresh ginger, cilantro, green onion, an egg, and panko breadcrumbs. I had made these once before and they turned out good, but I used too much peanut butter this time and they came out dry. I also should have added some soy sauce or some liquid to the mix. Any suggestions? I mixed up the two ktitzot with sauce for leftovers though and this one was fine. The other was great!

I don't really bake besides cheesecake (although I have recently discovered Ilana Shapiro's cookie recipe, and they are the best cookies in the world - seriously, they are). I've wanted to make a peanut butter cheesecake for forever so I did! It was Gail's birthday, and Anthony/Jess were arriving later that night for the weekend and it was Jess's birthday, so I made two cakes. This was what was remaining - plain cheesecake (that came out too lemony for plain, but not lemony enough for lemon), and peanut butter cheesecake.

We had a great time having a few drinks with Anthony and Jess when they came in, and the next day we went to a huge breakfast together (Charlie completed a dish that was on man vs food). We both had stuff to do that day, but that evening we joined them at Fleur for Jess's birthday dinner. It was great to finally meet them and I can't wait to go to their wedding in Antigua next month!!!

Here is some homemade chocolate yogurt that I made about 5 weeks ago. 
I made this the same exact way I made the regular yogurt which I have referenced before, but I used chocolate milk instead. At the end of draining, I added a a teaspoon of vanilla, and splenda to taste (don't remember how much). It was SO good. I had a bowl one night and gave Charlie a bite, and he literally just took it away from me and ate it like he hadn't had a meal in days! I made another batch about a week ago and something didn't work - I even tried to restart it and it just failed. I think the milk was getting old and it only works with fresh milk. I'll try again and report - it was so good!

babies babies all around! (but not ours yet don't worry)

It's the season of babies!

I guess around our age you could expect that. On Friday we got a very exciting text from Sarah, Charlie's sister, with an ultrasound of a fuzzy little male organ! She is about 17/18 weeks, and we're so excited for her! She was too modest to post the picture on her blog so I won't post it, but you can read about the wonderful story of how she got to share the news that they were expecting a BOY!!!! on her husband's birthday to him, as his present! What good timing. You can read the story here.

Our good friends from a different squadron Nick and Jess just had baby Amelia Jolie a little over two weeks ago. We went and visited them in the hospital when she was two days old.

Jessica and Nick so in love with Amelia Jolie

She's still a bit swollen and "stretched out" from delivery - can't wait to see her on Friday!

Since I have fallen of the blogging bandwagon (again, reference this title in july), I have missed out on telling you about many amazing adventures with friends. We had a great little bbq at our house with some friends of Charlie's from his squadron, and the parents in the group brought over a few of their babies. Jeff and Allison have Grant (2) and baby Todd (brand new), and Jason and Jessie have a 2 and 4 year old. 

Allison and Jeff holding Todd

Todd is gonna be a ginger!

I also missed a whole day of adventures including going to the park with Olga and her 4 year old Adam (well, he turns for on the 27th, day before Charlie), and 6 month old Julia. Her other friend was there with her daughter and she's pregnant with twins! Here is baby Julia, who was fussy that day, poor baby teething. She's normally the happiest most smiliest (is that a word?) baby ever!

I also missed a whole cooking section and dinner parties and lunch with friends and Anthony and Jess's visit, but that's another post.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The dogs deserve their own bed

Charlie noticed that the dogs liked sleeping on the armchairs and they liked this specific blanket. So instead of cutting it into two, he put the chairs together and now they have a dog bed!

Spoiled Maya sleeps on the bed. If we don't let her in the bedroom she scratches at the door incessantly, and if we put here somewhere else she just follows us back into bed. Oh well, three's company!