You know those big ugly papayas that you see in the market? The ones that could feed a missionary family on furlough?
Well, every once in awhile one calls my name.
Such was the case last week at Sprouts. There they were, "pick me, pick me." I found the smallest - least ugly one and took it home.
Now what was I going to do with it. Hubby doesn't like them.
I finally opened it up, but it wasn't the sweetest one in the bin.
I've had papaya in Hawaii that tasted like candy. This was not one of them.
And then the freezer bug bit me again.
"Ah yes! I can freeze anything." Well, almost.
My father was fond of telling anyone who would listen, "if you find me missing one day, just check the freezer." My mom froze everything.
Oh no!! I'm turning into my mother!!
I cubed the papaya and threw it in my Magic Bullet. Had to do it in batches. I'm sure if I'd thought it through, I would have used my blender, but I was in the moment and it was closer.
Anyway, I added about two tablespoons of lemon juice to the whole party.
Now, what to put the puree in. I found a mini muffin tin and filled it, but now I still had some left.
Did I mention that this was a spur-of-the-moment thing?
I froze the muffin tin, put the leftover puree in the fridge and the next day I went to the 99 cent store, and for 99 cents (well, now it's like 99.99 cents) I got two plastic ice cube trays and filled one of those.
Now I had one more tray looking at me and wanting to join in the fun. (For my writing buddies, yes I know I have two -ing- words in one sentence!)
I'd made a meal that needed canned tomatoes and opened my Trader Joe's tomatoes with green chilies. Whoa Nelly, they packed a punch. I used about a tablespoon of that and found another can of plain ol diced tomatoes for the recipe.
They sat lonely and forlorn in the fridge. Why not freeze it in the ice cube tray? And I did.
Now when I want to make a smoothie, I can pull out a few cubes and add it to my blender or Magic Bullet.
And when I'm making soup or sauce, I can pull out a cube and add that to the pot.
Gosh, I'm so clever!
Today is Friday. For me, it means at the end of the day, after all my
preparation is done, and I light the candles, I can rest. I'll have 24
hours to rest. Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. It's like a vacation
every week. No cooking, no cleaning, no worrying. Ahhhhh.
Here's my plan of attack to achieve my goal:
I have my steak in a marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar.
making some compound butter - butter, chopped fresh rosemary and basil,
lemon zest and lemon juice. Then I'll roll it and wrap it in plastic
wrap for an afternoon of lounging in the refrigerator. If you're rabbinic kosher, you can use Smart Balance or any margarine.
I'll saute the steak in butter, (yes, I know, this meal is not for those
who want to eat healthy) add oven roasted new potatoes and
broccoliflower (a cross of broccoli and cauliflower) to the meal.
have turkey lunchmeat sandwiches and chips for lunch tomorrow and I'll
dump 2 cups of yellow and green split peas with 7 1/2 cups of water plus
seasonings into my crockpot on low or 8 hours, Saturday morning for a supper of pea soup.
Makes my mouth water thinking about it.
Permit me to invite you to a few minutes of Sabbath rest. This could be yours every week.
There are some days when I come home from a shopping trip, walk in my living room and kiss the floor. I made it back in one piece! Ever have one of those days?
Then again, maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. You live in a town with one stop sign and parents still teach their children respect.
The other day I was in Walmart, pushing my cart down one of the main aisles when I was almost broadsided. I slammed on my breaks. She stopped, then waited for me to continue on, but the look I got clearly stated that I was in her way.
I made a comment to Hubby - something along the lines of, "I hope she doesn't drive like that."
I cringe when I see a car coming towards me from from a side street. Same scenario. The way they approach the stop sign tells me they think they can make their turn in front of me.
And then there's the far right lane that merges into one lane after a traffic light. The route we take to my daughter's house has several of these. The lane was created for people to make right hand turns, but most people zip into them to make a mad dash in front of us silly people who wait in line. (If you haven't already, check out my last blog - The Tel Aviv Bank Dance).
I've almost matched paint on more than one occasion when they cut me off.
All of this rant to make my point.
If adults don't take responsibility for teaching the young ones respect, then it will only get worse.
Children are watching us. They're in the cars of people willing to endanger the lives of themselves and those around them.
Children are watching their parents spend their free time texting while driving, or walking down the street, or eating.
Children are learning entitlement and disrespect as they watch The Disney Channel.
It's time we as adults take some time to train the next generation basic social skills and respect. It's our responsibility.
We owe it to our children, and it will keep us all alive.
Another day in Tel Aviv.
Because of my change of address, I needed to make a trip to the bank. I had all these shekels to deposit and then I needed to pay my rent for the new place. But, because I didn't have an account at the bank, I was only allowed to take out small increments at a time. I had to make four daily trips to accomplish my task.
So let me give you a taste of banking in Israel.
Lesson #1 - no one stands in line. And when they do, it's optional.
My first experience with this adventure occured when I was on my Israel tour. All the nice, polite, American tourist women stood in line for the bathroom. (Why is it that men never have lines!? That was retorical mind you.) And then... an Israeli woman sauntered by us all, to the front of the line and accepts her four squares of purple toilet paper from the attendent. Yup, you read that right - and heads on in for her business. The attendant gave her a grin as we all go ballistic that someone had the nerve to take cutsies!
Well folks, that's life in the Middle East. We're not in Kansas anymore.
I walk into the bank - after having the security guard pass his "magic wand" over my body and peek into my purse.
There is a row of chairs, maybe 5 or 6 of them. I'm not sure how this works. People are all bunched up around the chairs, sitting and standing, and I notice in front is a teller line with (and this is universal I think) two tellers available. Everyone stares at me as I walk in. So I stand there with everyone else and wait. I have no idea who the last person in "line" is until someone comes in after me. He directs a question at us and the guy I'm standing near answers. Oh! now I get it. He is asking who the last person in "line" is. They all look at me and I guess my expression gives me away. They figure I haven't a clue that I was asked a question and Mr. Nextinline points to me and says, "he", which means she in Hebrew. After awhile I catch on and find that the proper response is, "ani", or me. That will come in handy for the next three days I do the bank dance.
Okay, so once that is established, we wait, and wait. No one is there for one step banking and each transaction takes a long time. I found that if I wait long enough, I too will get to sit in a coveted chair.
Every once in awhile, I got a free show, too. Sometimes, someone would be in a hurry, wait for an opening and pounce. When a person would leave the teller, they'd dash up to take their turn, to the disgruntlement of the person who should have been next. An argument breaks out - lots of yelling. This reminds everyone that they need to be more cautious and then afterwards, Mr or Ms Nextinline hovers - oh, around breathing down the neck distance from the person with the teller. Although I gave people their space, I found standing behind the transactor gave me a fair advantage in getting my banking done within an hour.
Lession #2 - never feed an ATM when your card has been flagged as stolen.
I'll explain that one next time!
August is that magical time of year when gardens overflow with bounty.
You wake up, open your front door to greet the morning and there on your door step is a brown paper grocery bag full of zucchini, with a sign - Please care for me.
You find zucchini boats hiding under their canopy of leaves.
This blog, however, is not about the dredded zuchinni taking over the world.It's about red peppers.
My neighborhood market has a utility cart tucked between produce and bakery in which "thank you for coming, but it's time to go" fruit and veggies are placed. I pick up some good stuff there between 69 to 99 cents. On a recent visit, I noticed a huge plastic bag full of red peppers. The only bad pepper was near the bottom. For $1.99 this was a bargain.
I invisioned taking them home and popping them in the oven with some olive oil to make roasted red peppers. Then I remembered that it was going to be about a hundred and heck outside and I didn't want to heat up my house. What to do, what to do?
I froze them instead. Talk about easy!!
Cut up the peppers into the shapes you want. I chose to keep them in large strips, but you can slice them into thinner strips or chunk them.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper and lay them out.
Place them in your freezer for a day.
When they're frozen, label gallon freezer bags, dump them inside and take as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing. Notice the straw sticking out of one of the bags? I seal the bag up to one corner, stick the straw inside and suck the rest of the air out of the bag, then close up the corner.
It's that easy! No blanching necessary.
Now when I want to roast some peppers, or use them for soup or salad, I'll pull some out of the bag, defrost them and voila! they're ready to go.
I look out on the gentle waves of the Mediterranean Sea and sift sand through my toes. I'm on the other side of the world!
Here I am, sitting in a beach chair, sipping a 7-UP before lunch. Trish and I, along with two other gals I've just met are planning a retreat. This beats a stuffy room any day.
While there, Trish gets a phone call from her landlord. There just "happens" to be an apartment available...for a month...at the same price I was paying for the hostel. Time for a little rejoicing.
It's on the third floor, right across from Trish and her husband. And when I say right across, I mean her front door and my front door were about 12 feet from each other. Turns out it was a win-win for both the landlord and me. The previous renter moved out and it would be vacant until the new renter was to come - in a month. Now it wouldn't sit empty. He was willing to give it to me for $800. The next renter (a family of 4) would be paying $2400 a month. WHA???? Yep. That's what I said. The reason is because the apartment is a block from the Sea.
But before I can have a full blown happy party, I have to cross another big hurdle. I have to convince the owner of the hostel to refund me the money I gave him for my room, minus the two days I've been there already. Impossible you say.
I was sweating bullets.
Armed with a prayer, some moxie and a lot of chutzpah, I explain that an apartment had opened across from my dear friend Trish and she would looooovvvvve for me to be close to her. Pretty lame, actually, but because he likes her and she sends all her friends and acquaintances to him (I don't think she actually understood the condition of the place or how creepy it was beyond the lobby), he's willing to refund me all but 3 days.
Between Trish and I, we schlep my two large suitcases and backpack about a mile, and up three flights of stairs to my new digs. This is way beyond what I could have imagined.
Now instead of paying $800 for a small, hot room with one double bed, a dresser with an old TV and no bathroom or kitchen, I'm sitting - trying to catch my breath - admiring my fully furnished livingroom, kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom with 2 air conditioners. All the utilities are included.
So - does G~d give a rip when we call out to Him?
You bet He does.
And this is only the beginning of getting to know His heart better.
I'm sitting in a beach chair watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea. It's Shabbat. I'm in Israel, on the other side of the world. And I hear Him say, "hold on to your hat sister, there's more in store!"
New time zone, new language, new culture - this wasn't going to be easy. I eagerly awaited my friend's arrival.
My first full day in Tel Aviv was spent at a soup kitchen. Around 70 down and out people looked to be fed every Thursday. The menu - bean soup, potato salad, rice with peas and carrots, spaghetti and chicken schnitzel. Even though Deb, the fearless leader of production had some of the preparation done before Trish and I arrived, we were put to work peeling and chopping and peeling and chopping. I cried. Onions! Lots of onions.
Deb asked if I would like to do something else. In glee I cried, "yes!" Silly me.
She entrusted to me the job of making chicken schnitzel. No ripping open bags of frozen meat slabs here. This was the real deal. Her real deal. She made the best schnitzel according to everyone there and she felt I was ready to receive the honor of grand poobah schnitzel maker. Frankly I think it was that no one else wanted the job and I was so new and fresh and...naive.
She showed me how she wanted it done. Okay, that didn't look too complicated. Dip a thin chicken cutlet into flour, seasoned beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs. She watched me as I did the first one. Not bad but... she showed me how to press the breadcrumbs on the meat. It had to be just right. I guess that's why her schnitzel was considered the best. She'd watch me out of the corner of her eye and run over every once in a while, and in Hebrew remind me how it was done. And then I became proficient. Large industrial pan after pan - I laid those golden gems in rows. I was hot, my arms and back ached. So that's how it feels to run that last Olympic lap for the gold. Deb pronounced them good. They were ready for the fryer and I walked away... to prepare for serving.
By 7pm that evening I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to get back to my hard bed in the funky little hostel and crash. And I did...until around 10 when again my body said, "thanks for the nice nap - I needed that". Awake again. And the city of Tel Aviv pulsated to the beat of loud music, car horns, buses and obstreperous, drunk people.
No, I couldn't live like this for a month. I had to do something. Soon.
The next day, armed with around 4 hours of sleep, I thanked Trish for setting me up with my room in the hostel, but asked her if something else could be arranged. Actually, I begged her.
Her initial response was to remind me that we were in Israel. Accommodations were at a premium and very expensive and she didn't think anything could be done. And besides, it was Friday and business closed down around 3pm to begin preparing for the Sabbath. But she would ask her landlord if there was, by any remote chance, an apartment available for a month in my budget. And all of the collective earthly consciousness, in one accord, laughed!
Next time on Airplanes and Hostels:
Does G~d really give a rip?
The picture on their website looked promising, right on the beach. The building itself - clean and inviting. My first hostel experience. I went to Israel alone this time, staying in Tel Aviv for a month. I'd braved the 18 hour plane trip. 6 hours to New Jersey, a layover and then 12 hours to Israel. Flying was on my bucket list. No, not that bucket list. This one is the kick the bucket list. The one that includes skydiving, bungee jumping, sticking my finger in an electrical socket... you know, that one. I just have trouble breathing germmy air in a metal tube, far away from the ground for many hours. But I did it. I joined in the applause with my plane mates when we approached the Ben Gurion airport runway and my eyes teared up. I was home again.
I found a taxi, danced the language dance, negotiated the fare and began phase two of my adventure. Bless his heart (and I say that in a good way), my taxi driver asked me if I liked Kenny G. I said yes, and he popped in a CD. I guess Americans like Kenny G. What a relaxing ride. We entered the heart of Tel Aviv and I got excited. I looked forward to hearing the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean Sea from my hostel room window. He stopped in front of a row of slightly run down buildings. Why was he stopping here? The beach was several blocks away. But my driver drug my suitcases from the trunk and plunked them inside the smokey lobby, hopped back in his cab and left. Sure enough, this was indeed were I would be spending my month. Well, my friend who lived in Tel Aviv set this place up for me so it must be okay. Deep breath. Prayer for strength.
My private room was - lets just say adequate. Bed, dresser, old TV, threadbare linens. It had no air conditioning, nor fan, but it did have a rickety door which led to a small balcony. Oh, so that was the balcony in the picture.
By 8pm my body thought it was 6am and yelled at me. "Good grief, woman, I need sleep!" Yes, it was uncomfortably warm, but I fell asleep. Until 10pm that is. Wide awake now I tossed and turned. Under me, on the street were bars and young people hopping from one establishment to another. Tel Aviv is billed as, "The city that never sleeps". It was true. I pried open the door, found a dusty plastic chair on the balcony and watched the show. By 2am I'd had enough and crawled back into my bed, pushed ear plugs into my ears and fitfully slept until around noon. I felt drugged and disoriented.
I shared a co-ed bathroom with others on my floor and I figured by noon everyone would be out and about. But on my way back to my room after a much needed shower, I met a young man, clad only in a towel making his cheery way into the bathroom. I got back to my room, sat on the bed and cried. Then I prayed. "L~rd. I'm not sure I can take a whole month of this. Help!"
Next time on Airplanes and Hostels:
Finding help in times of need.
Today, I'm taking a cue from my cat, Kleinah. She understands.
We've been in a heat wave for the past week. And I need to put out this disclaimer. If you live somewhere that borders hell, then have a good laugh and move on.
Last night I posted on facebook, "Is it still hot outside?" It was around 8pm. My SIL aka son-in-love posts that it's 93 degrees outside. Yup, still hot. Then my sis-in-law posts that at 9pm it's 108 where she lives. She wins!
We keep our house at a comfortable 78 degrees to keep from having to go on the dole because of our utility bills. So, for the most part, as long as I don't do pilates in front of the TV, I can stay relatively cool. I created a veggie lasagna- layers of noodles, mushrooms, gourmet yellow french bush beans, summer squash, (the Japanese eggplant from my garden wasn't ripe yet - rats!), cottage cheese, provolone, mozzarella and a can of spaghetti sauce. It's chugging along in the crockpot as we speak. Let's keep the kitchen as cool as possible.
And this is were Kleinah comes in. Things I learned from my cat. Find a good comfortable place and - don't move! She knows how it works. The less you do, the cooler you stay.
So for today, I can watch the dust grow, the laundry breed and the carpet sprout another white something-or-other. I shall follow the lead of my brilliant cat.
Oh, yeah. I see that book calling my name.
Lets go back to Israel.
I've ridden a horse, an elephant in a shopping center parking lot when I was 6, and a camel.
The ultimate tourist adventure while in the Holy Land - ride a camel. Why not! The Genesis Land is in the heart of the Judean Desert. Tents, tables low to the ground, hyssop tea - and maybe even a visit by Abraham (or one of his friends).
But to get to this part, you have to experience the first part.
We were greeted by Eliezer, Abraham's manservant, who took us to a group of camels that were being prepared for our journey to the tent. It was either ride the camel or a long schlep around the hill on foot. How hard could it be to ride a camel groomed for carting tourists less than a mile around a wide dirt path? I waited my turn while my camel was prepared for me. Hubby - being the cautious non adventurous type chose - with determination, to hike it. No camels for him, thank you very much. So I was paired with another gentleman.
There were two single gals on the tour and they were going to be pared up on one camel. However one of the gals came down with sudden "I don't want to do this!!" syndrome and my valiant husband (with a prompt from the L~rd) chose to ride with her. You know - strong man to save the damsel in distress.
But it was indeed ordered by G~d because he kept his hands on her shoulders the whole time, telling her she was okay, and she later said that is what kept her from loosing all sense of reality.
Back to my adventure.
Climbing on a camel, sitting in the front looking down the neck of this huge beast is something else. Even with a saddle, it feels like at any minute you'll slide on down that long neck and onto the dirt. And a camel on her knees hoisting herself up with a saddle and two occupants is not a smooth ride. My unhealthy back was not happy with the ordeal.
Okay, so now we're ready to cruse. Those first few steps were interesting and starting to be kind of fun. Roll, sway, roll sway...until my beastie decided she was tired of the whole thing and wanted to go down to her pen where her baby was. She saw the pen and stopped. Then she began a maneuver of sorts - I think trying to rid her back of these growths that had attached themselves to her. She lowered herself to her knees ( not fun for my sciatica). Me, being in front lurched forward. That didn't work and we stayed on her back because her leader told us to stay put. So she, with a camel noise, lumbered back up, swayed in place and with another camel noise headed back down to her knees again. Once more we were told to stay put. By then I was ready to ignore the highly trained in camel, young man, unlatch my belt and bolt. But with prayer - lots of prayer I hung on for all I could. She then pulled herself up again and started backing up. We skirted a deep ravine. My thinking - she was trying to dump her load overboard. Now she had two handlers holding her reins. No one said anything. They just waited and looked at her. Finally I guess the camel whispering worked and she began to amble past the pen (which was down the ravine) and on to the tent.
When we were safely delivered from our camel, I asked the handler if he was worried that she wanted to make a dash for the pen. He said yes. Her little one was down there, it was close to feeding time and she was ready to leave the party - guests and all.
I should have gotten the tee shirt. I Survived a Camel Ride in Judea!
I've lived in my house for 7 years. Actually, I grew up in this house. We moved in when I was a freshman in high school. I graduated, moved to Los Angeles where I attended college and worked beyond that for a few years. Then I moved back until I got married two years later. Lots of history here.
It's a small post WW2 house - built in 1948.
I never remember grumbling about cabinet space, not enough closet space - no where to put things. And my mom and dad were collectors and pilers. Dad ran a business from the back room off the kitchen. I had my share of stuff. Lots of stuff.
Fast forward. Now hubby and I own this house. And I grumble about cabinet space and not enough closet space. Maybe it's because we downsized - our houses, not our stuff. We went from 1800 sf to 1400 sf to our present just under 1000 sf.
We took our stuff and stuffed it into a house with my mom's and some of my dad's leftover stuff.
After we moved in, I realized there would be no way I could comfortably prep and cook in the little galley kitchen with only two electrical wall sockets and precious little counter space. But we didn't have the money to turn our house (and kitchen) into an award winning House Beautiful project. So the kitchen got a small makeover with new counters, cabinets, flooring and lighting and I now have 4, count them, 4 electrical wall sockets! And I also got a pantry and an appliance cupboard in the back room.
Which brings me to the point of my blog. Organization.
7 years ago I took my stuff and arranged it the best I could in my new cabinets. And for 7 years now I've been changing things here and things there to make it work. But as it happens, life gets in the way and things get out of order. The plastic lid fairies have taken more than their share to who knows where (I think they live in the same dimension as the sock zone). And the tower of baking dishes keeps threatening to take me down when I need the bottom casserole in the pile.
Yesterday I determined that I'd had enough. Time to get my kitchen in order. First I tackled my pots and pans and then the plasticware. No lid - no keep. Many went into the "thank you for coming" bag. Next came the serving bowls, mixing bowls, measuring cups, glass leftover containers. I was on a roll. Tomorrow it's the casserole dishes. It's kind of addicting. One cupboard or drawer calls to another.
In the Jewish calendar we are three weeks away from the month of Elul. During the month of Elul we begin the process of reflection and repentance culminating with Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Time to go through all the closets and cupboards of our life. Time to rearrange and chuck out things we don't use, or need. Time to repair what can be fixed.
It's amazing how fresh and empowered I feel when I open up my cupboards and everything is in order.
That's how I'll feel at the beginning of Sukkot when I begin the time of celebration. Everything will be cleaned out and reordered. I'll be fresh and empowered to continue on the journey of life.
You'll know what I'm talking about. As the day progresses, you begin to feel something in the force is not right. You try to ignore the tickle in your chest. Those tiny aches that tease your body, you justify with the extra heavy bag of groceries you lugged from the store, or an extra lap around the track. Even as you crawl into bed, you don't want to admit you may be coming down with the dreaded...FLU. It was our last night at Nof Ginosar Hotel at the shores of the Sea of Galilee - New Year's Eve. Hubby went to bed early, not feeling well. I stayed up with our tour group to see in the new year. I felt it coming on. I should have expected the inevitable. Our granddaughter was sick when we left home, hubby was coughing. Who was I to think serious jet lag and a plunge in an ice cold Jordan river wouldn't take its toll on my immune system.
I didn't go half way around the world to a Land I'd wanted to go to since I was a teen, to hole away, sick in bed. I did what I needed to do. "Abba!" I cried, "help!" Desperate prayer went up to the Throne. And then, armed with nothing more than lots of water, extra protein and sheer grit - plus strength and endurance I knew was beyond me, I took on Masada, En Gedi and Jerusalem. Each evening I gave thanks for my new adventures.
By the third day, my fever broke and the only evidence that I'd been sick was the nagging cough that becomes your best friend. Being one of the worship leaders for the group, I worried that I'd lose my voice, or have one of those coughing fits that grab you. But neither happened. My speaking voice was raspy, but when it came time to sing, my voice was clear and strong. Because of a heart condition, I can't take over-the-counter cold and flu meds. Once again G~d proved that He could care for me without props. I attribute my strength and quick recovery to Him. After all, when I cried out to Him at the Western Wall - it was a local call.