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Archive for January, 2013

“The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. He’s got esprit up to here. Right now, he’s preparing to carry out his third mission of the night. His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of the air. A bullet will bounce off its arachnofiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door… Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel: feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books. When they gave him the job, they gave him a gun…The Deliverator’s car has enough potential energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon into the asteroid belt…Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him. He is a role model.” (Snow crash, pages 1-2)

It is only some paragraphs later that you discover that the Deliverator is… a pizza delivery guy. For the Mafia. It just gets more interesting from there, as Neal Stephenson builds a picture of the future that is at once chilling and amusing, and totally believable. And being Stephenson, he also explains complex abstract subjects in clear and simple language, so you barely notice he’s just substantially increased your knowledge of virtual reality, religion, samurai and ancient civilization.

Amazing.

I tried to read this originally in the last stages of pregnancy  and couldn’t (I was reading Nora Roberts exclusively at the time, which should give you an idea of my condition). I got back to it now, and boy was it worth the wait! This is at once amusing and thought provoking, suspenseful and emotional,  intellectual and action-packed.

Go read it. 5 stars.

Note: this was published in 1992, so “the future” in the book is more of an alternate reality by this time. But it could still happen.

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I don’t usually make religious, political or social commentaries on this blog. I keep it for recipes and some child-related anecdotes. But something happened that pushed me too far, and I had to write about it. I will also actively spread this blog post, so I ask anyone who agrees with me to reblog, send it on, add whatever comments you wish.

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The Rabbi Aviner is considered to represent the Religious Zionist stream in Israel, of which I am a part. However, he published a detailed blog post, with the force of psak, the rule of the Rav, on modest garb for women. (You can Google his site and “modest garb” if you want; I don’t want to link it here so that I don’t increase traffic to his site). It shocked me.

Because someone who can sit down and write such detailed descriptions of modest garb for women, under guise of praise for the “modest Jewish woman”, is basically telling all women that it doesn’t matter if they learn Torah, if they give to the poor, if they try to be kind to all people they meet; their worth is measured by the number of centimetres their hemline is under the knee, and the colour and type of cloth they choose to wear. And at the same time he is telling all men that it doesn’t matter if they learn Torah, if they give to the poor, if they try to be kind to all people they meet; the minute they will see a woman’s naked elbow or see that women are shaped differently than men they will become rapacious sex fiends with no control. But don’t worry, he says to men while patting them on the head, I’ve taken care of that for you.

Well, I believe that both men and women are created in G-d’s image. I believe that we are here to make the world a better place, and therefore it does matter if you learn Torah, if you give to the poor, if you try to be kind to all people. I believe that we were all given a body to respect and take pride in, and we were all – men and women – given urges that can be controlled with guidance and practice.

So you do not represent me, Rabbi Aviner. You do not represent me.

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Update: I have also tried to write directly to the Rav Aviner, and got evasive answers. After some back-and-forth emails, I was given his phone number to talk to him directly. I will call in the next few days after I calm down a bit and get his side of this issue. I will update here when I have answers.

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I have a recipe for lasagne that never fails. It’s easy and quick. However, sometimes you want something just a bit… richer. What I really felt like was adding a cheese sauce layer to it. However, the classic way of making a cheese sauce is to do bechamel sauce and add cheese to it. I did not have the patience to stir a pan for twenty minutes.

And then I found this recipe. This is an easy cheese sauce that uses all the ingredients of a cheesy bechamel sauce, but without the endless stirring and you can even (gasp!) leave the pan for a few minutes to tend your baby! And it tastes absolutely amazing.

So:

3 layer lasagne (22 by 12 cm pan)

Layer 1: Tomato sauce

1 can (800 gr) crushed tomatoes.
Water
Oregano, basil and thyme to taste
100 gr tomato paste (optional)

Mix all ingredients, add water until consistency is to your taste. Depending on the type of crushed tomatoes you use, you might not have to add water at all. For additional sweetness and thickness, you can add tomato paste.

Easy tomato sauce

Easy tomato sauce

Layer 2: Spinach sauce

400 gr frozen chopped spinach
250 gr cottage cheese
Ground nutmeg to taste

Thaw spinach in the microwave. Add the cottage cheese and the nutmeg. Mix.

Easy spinach sauce

Easy spinach sauce

Layer 3: Cheese sauce using Bristol foodie’s awesome recipe

1 mug grated cheese (I used parmesan)
2 tbsp white flour
pinch salt, pepper and nutmeg
2 mugs milk
25 gr butter

Pour cheese, flour and spices into a pan, stir well. Add milk and butter, bring to a boil while stirring occasionally (the original recipe states that one should stir constantly, but I didn’t and it was fine).

Bringing to a boil...

Bringing to a boil…

When the sauce thickens, it’s ready! (Don’t wait for it to thicken more as it will be in the oven as well. Mine turned out just a smidgen too thick, which didn’t hurt the taste any 🙂 ) This does not have lumps!

Layering the lasagne:

Start with enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the lasagne sheets (I use no precook sheets of Barilla, 3-4 per layer, three layers of lasagne). Pour tomato sauce, spinach mixture and cheese sauce.

Tomato and spinach - first layer

Tomato and spinach – first layer

Layer lasagne again. Tomato and spinach, and then another layer of lasagne. Top it all with the rest of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle oregano on top.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Place in a preheated oven at 200 °C for 20 minutes or until a fork goes through the lasagne without breaking anything.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Lighter version: You can do without the cheese sauce for a lighter, easier lasagne, in which case you should top the lasagne with tomato sauce (use the tomato paste and more water to stretch the tomato sauce for this). Sprinkle oregano and grated cheese on top and you’ve still got a great lasagne.

Bon Apetit!

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