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Winter dinner

I’m not much of a soup person. I usually feel as though it’s a first course, and I wait for the main afterwards ;)
However, daylight saving time and colder weather, coupled with trying a healthier lifestyle, changed my mind.
During the summer, my husband and I decided to make a large salad every evening. This worked about 50% of the time :? But it was better than nothing. With cold weather, I had zero liking for a salad, so I called my MIL and asked what she puts in her vegetable soup (as that’s one of the few soups my husband eats) and tried it out. I used the food processor to chop the vegetables, using this awesome knife that I discovered for salads:

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To my surprise, I also discovered that it’s great for homemade French fries, but that’s a different blog post ;-)
Basically chop everything, put in a pot, add water and salt, and wait. Of course, doing this around the kids means that part of the vegetables end up in their mouths,  but that’s just a bonus – and they love working the food processor :) Turned out great and perfect for a quick dinner on those busy weekdays (I made a pot for the weekend and we ate it during the week).

Ingredients
1 onion
2 kohlrabi, peeled
1/2 a cauliflower
5 large carrots, peeled
4 potatoes, peeled

Optional :
1 leek,  cut into 4 (no need to chop)
Canned chickpeas, whole, drained
Small bunch of parsley
Small bunch of dill
(I tie them together without chopping and take them out after cooking)
Fennel

Chop all vegetables. Put in pot.

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Tied up herbs on the right

Cover with water. Add 1 tsp salt or to taste. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables can be easily picked with a fork. Serve and eat!

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If you’re in the mood, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top… Yummy!

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A Prayer of Thanks

Thank you, G-d:

That I live in a country where rape is a crime of the rapist and not of the one raped.
That I live in a country where a confession under duress is not accepted.
Where in the few cases that this did happen, the perpetrators were punished and not the victim.
Where a trial is needed for every crime.
Where a lawyer is provided for every accused.
Where the death penalty is not given.
Where justice is the norm and not the exception.

Thank you for these things which I take for granted, and are such a great gift.

Thank you.

Dedicated to Reyhaneh Jabbari. May she rest in peace.

This is another Nora Roberts gem. The protagonists are interesting and likable, the love interests builds slowly enough that it’s believable, the murder mystery holds water (mostly). The pace could be a bit better – I found the build up of the suspense as to who the murderer was a bit too long, but that also depends on my mood :) . The secondary characters are interesting for their own sake. Also, the descriptions of life in Alaska are very interesting, and made me want to visit Alaska myself ;) 4.5 stars

Northern Lights. Taken from theguardian.com. Photograph: Daniel J Cox/Corbis

The only jarring note is Roberts’ attitude to psychiatric illness. There was something similar in Angels Fall, but here it’s even more pronounced: “[Medicines] make me edgy or jumpy or out of myself. I can’t do the job on meds…” or “pills he’d stopped taking because they made him feel less of who he was than the depression or anxiety or insomnia“. It has now been my privilege to know four people who took psychiatric medicines, and I found the exact opposite was true: The anxiety and depression made them less themselves, and the medicine made them more themselves. If your pills make you edgy or jumpy or out of yourself, you’ve got the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage. If her characters pull out of depression because they fell in love or went on a trip alone they probably weren’t clinically depressed anymore, as depressed people are simply not capable of these actions. Like suggesting that someone suffering from double pneumonia should just apply willpower and get going right now to a warmer climate. First take the medicines and get better; then you can spend some convalescence time in the sun.

OK, rant done.

Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of AweEvery year I try to read something meaningful in preparation for the days of awe. In addition, I try to join at least one lesson live in WebYeshiva (My personal favorite teacher is Rabbi Yehoshua Geller, check him out!). This year I found myself on Rosh Hashana without anything new to read. So I thought I’d reread Rabbi Soloveitchik’s On Repentance, which is an excellent book, if a bit long to manage in 10 days. But then I found this gem that I bought last book week and forgot about: Erica Brown’s Return: Daily inspiration for the days of awe (in English, even though it’s at the Hebrew book week :) ). This is divided into 10 chapters, one for each of the Days of Awe, so excellent for starting late (yet better late than never ;) ). It’s thought-provoking, yet each chapter is short enough to read in half an hour. In addition, each chapter has “life homework” with concrete things you can do or decide to make you a better person this year. Each chapter also has some additional study material from the sages with some questions for your own personal study.

I found this book absolutely amazing. It showed me different ways of looking over the past year, and helped me enormously in my own private introspection and resolutions. It brings ideas from the bible, modern psychology, modern literature, and day-to-day life. It never talks down to you, yet is very scholarly. It brought me closer to Judaism and closer to true repentance. I’m going to read this during the year to refresh myself on what is really important; and I recommended to all people who are interested in looking over their lives, Jewish or not, during the Days of Awe or not. It captured, in 10 chapters (+ prologue and epilogue) the struggle we are all going through, our hope and fear of changing, and our imagination. I’ll be looking for more books by Erica Brown. 5 stars.

Shana Tova!

On Rosh Hashana Eve, I wish you and your family a year of sweetness, laughter, joy, fullfilment, personal growth, nachas, and good tidings.

And to help you on your way, here are some videos:

The Maccabeats, excellent as usual, with tradition and laughter:

Sia, for those moments when you need a helping hand. We all have them sometimes.

And Shimon Peres knows how to laugh – and to get the message across. May his vision come true and we will know true long lasting peace, Amen.

Shana Tova Umetuka!

Front CoverI’ve noticed that the further back I go, the less I like Nora Roberts. There is a saying in Hebrew – “there is no one so wise as he who has experience”. While it isn’t always true, it certainly seems so in this case. When comparing this to gems like The Witness or the Chesapeake Blue series, I got the impression that she batted this story out in one evening while suffering from the flu. Song of the West was published in 1982 (gosh, I was two years old then!).

Where to start? The heroine is typical “passionate yet innocent” type. The hero made me want to knee him in the balls. Maybe 30 years ago it was considered romantic to catch hold, not let go when asked, say in a deep and masculine voice “I want you and I’ll have you” and leave, but I just found it annoying, intrusive, and creepy.  There was the obligatory damsel-in-distress scene. The barrier to true love was so artificial it was ridiculous – maybe instead of assuming idiocies you could, you know, ask? When the first actual meaningful conversation between the two happens in the next to last page (in order to solve all problems) it makes you wonder why they didn’t have the conversation before. In short, don’t waste your time. 0 stars.

* Older Nora Roberts books don’t seem to have violence at all, no swearing, and no explicit sex scenes. Again, it’s difficult to believe these books are all written by the same person.

I find it ironic that a bit after Passover, when most of Israel eats gluten free, my son was diagnosed with celiac. It took some time for the final result, but it’s final: my son has celiac. So I started searching for a dairy free easy chocolate cake with no margarine that’s also gluten free. It took some trial and error, but here it is! It’s from the book “pashut lelo geluten” (simple without gluten) by Myriam Mor Yosef, with a few tweaks.

Ingredients:
180 ml oil
5gr baking powder (or one heaped tsp)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, unpacked (originally 240 gr white sugar, way too much brown)
1/2 cup potato flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla

Baking dish of size 27×33 cm

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Mix everything together using a mixer. Pour into baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Easy peasy, and so tasty!

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Note: I haven’t written in a while as my computer died, phone problems, trip abroad and not least a shooting war. May we all have peace, amen.

Edited: Cake would sometimes fall flat, changed to 160°C and halved amount of baking powder thanks to excellent suggestions from my SIL who bakes like a dream. Thanks for the tips!

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