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Archive for March, 2011

Ahhh, it’s that time of the year again….

A few years ago, my husband and I arrived at the conclusion that as we hate receiving store brought junk for Purim, we should also stop giving it. Our Mishloah Manot became more focused on quality and less on quantity. After that, our Mishloah Manot was strawberry jam (home made), chocolate balls and chocolate chip cookies and that’s it.

This year, I wanted something the kids could help out with. Jam was out. Also, the strawberries are still very expensive and not really worth making into jam. So we decided on 3 types of home made cookies: Chocolate balls (traditional, made with my SIL and nephew) chocolate chip cookies (also traditional, my husband looks forward to this all year!) and granola bars.

My eldest stopped eating his strawberry yoghurt, preferring cheese based dairy instead; so I had 4 strawberry yoghurts that needed to be used up. So we added to our Mishloah Manot strawberry yoghurt muffins.

The result was wonderful, and my kids helped with the granola bars and the chocolate balls, and my husband and I made the rest (my husband loves helping to make chocolate chip cookies … though for some reason there are always less cookies than I expect, while my husband swallows quickly and tries to look innocent :))

Also, we bought boxes for the Mishloah Manot that our children decorated, and our children helped give the Mishloah Manot, so our kids really felt the holiday! especially the cookies they got everywhere because they looked so sweet in their costume…

Chocolate balls:
1/4 kilo Petit Buerre biscuits, crushed finely (I use a food processor)
50 gr margarine, melted
2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
water as needed (about 1 cup)
coconut flakes, for coating the balls
Small paper cups (size 1-2)

Mix everything but the water and coconut in a large bowl. Adding water a quarter cup at a time, mix until you can form a ball easily. Form balls, roll in coconut flakes. Place in paper cups. Refrigerate and eat!

We made together 1.5 Kg of biscuits!

Granola bars can be found here, I made 1.5 times the amount and to 2/3 added craisins and dried apple, and to the other 1/3 added only dried apple. The ones without the craisins were for my kids and me :).

Chocolate chip cookies:
Based on the recipe on the back of Oppenheimers chocolate chips:
150 gr margarine
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (Note – this came out too sweet, I’ll try 1/3 cup white and 1/3 cup brown next time)
2 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 1/4 cups white flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
one bag (300 gr) Oppenheimer’s chocolate chips

Mix everything but the chocolate chips in a food processor. Transfer to mixing bowl and mix in chocolate chips (not easy, my husband does this. The batter is thick and hard to mix). Put teaspoonfuls on baking sheet, a few cm apart as they spread. Cook at 190° C for 5-8 minutes. Cookies are done when edges are brown but still soft in the middle, they will cool into melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Do not bake until it looks cooked! It will cool into dry hard cookies. We made twice the amount.

Lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies

Yogurt muffins: I used the recipe from hillbilly housewife, here. I quadrupled the recipe, and then discovered that one carton of yoghurt is NOT a cup, so I had to add two regular white yoghurts to the mix. The result was absolutely delicious and the kids loved it.

Strawberry Yoghurt Muffins

Happy Purim!

Just getting started!

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I try to use ecological cleaning materials when I can. I mainly use vinegar and water for cleaning. It’s excellent for a variety of uses.

I started using it based on a recommendation in “Feed me: I’m yours!” An excellent book on how to make baby and toddler food at home. In the back there is a chapter on “Things I know now that I wish I knew then”. One of the tips there is how to clean urine stains from a carpet. When we were potty training our eldest, it sure was useful! The idea was to put one part vinegar to two-three parts water in a spay bottle, and keep it handy. Whenever an “accident” happended, to spray from the bottle and soak with a cloth. Our carpet remains pristine to this day.

As I already had the  spray bottle, I began using it for other things. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, so I used it to clean the kitchen marble (especially after doing anything with raw meat/chicken). I use some vinegar and water and our ecological dishwashing liquid to clean the floor. And I use neat vinegar instead of buying “shine” liquid for the dishwasher (I put the vinegar in the small container, the dishes come out sparkling!). All this had a twofold effect: I was saving money on cleaning materials (I use cheap 5% vinegar) and I was helping the enviromnment.

But the dishwasher was a problem. Ecological dishwashing tablets are expensive (~1.5 NIS per wash). Regular tablets are usually less than 1 NIS per wash. So I searched for homemade cleaning dishwasher detergent. And every time I was faced with the same problem.

There are hundreds of recipes for homemade dishwashing detergent on the Web. All of them call for borax, and state that you can find borax in the laundry aisle of your supermarket. Well, apparently not in Israel. Nobody knows what borax is, nobody knows where to get it. I found a site lately that advised buying borax at pharmacies (it’s apparently used in homeopathy) or chemical companies. Not likely.

Until I found a simple borax free recipe. It’s laughingly simple:

about 1/8 cup baking soda
about 1 tbsp ecological dishwashing liquid

Put in tablet container in dishwasher for every wash.

The result, especially in combination with the vinegar in the other compartment: shiny and clean dishes. I’m planning on buying baking soda in bulk to cheapen this even more. So easy, so cheap, so clean, so good for the environment… all the good stuff!

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