Pretzel Challah

I don’t have much time today because I am busy making challah! Today I am pretzelling four of the eigt loaves I am making. Who thought it could be so easy!

In short, make your bread product as you normally do. I admit I use prefab bread and thaw it out to make my challah. In this case, I let it get soft and then cut it into loaf sizes and then strip sizes and then braid it into the final presentation.

Here comes the magic!

Boil 1/2C water. Stir in 1.5 t of baking soda once the water has boiled. It will fizz and bubble. Take it off the heat. Take a brush and brush your bread product with the baking soda mixture.

YES! IT’S THAT EASY!

Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies. If you want finish with an egg wash for a nice brown, shiny crust. Bake as you normally would ūüôā

Added: the children pronounced it “good! It tastes like a pretzel!” which is certainly high praise! Then they split the loaf in half, each taking half, and scurried back to their lairs.

Try it!

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Wintertime

Right on schedule, wintertime started in western Pennsylvania, and here in the Mon Valley on Halloween, and with it came heavy, bilowy, grey clouds that threatened rain and snow, colder temperatures and a biting wind.  More so than even the Christmas baccanalia that fills the stores this time of year, the weather really signals winter has come.

A week ago we thought temperatures that kissed the 40sF were cold.  Today, that has all changed and we wait for the 20sF because those will surely come and the gloves and hats and winter coats have come out and repairs have been made, what needs washed has been tossed into the dryer and we are pronounced ready for the inevitable.

Sure, it could get warm again and most likely will. ¬†But this coldness which caused us to turn on the heat, and hence the rule that the heat won’t be turned on until November 1, has come right on time.

It’s funny how we often wait a long time for winter to finally give way to spring which is cpaxed to give way to summer. ¬†Fall is standing at the ready with leaves that start to turn in early August regrettably. ¬†But winter, winter seems to come right on time. ¬†And even though summer can peek through occasionally causing oddly warm Thanksgivings or Hanukkah nights when warm strolls in the neighborhood seem more appropriate than the winter evenings I remember when we stood in knee deep snow to screw the lightbulbs into the chanukia in front of the synagogue on Main Street.

Yes, winter is here and won’t be letting us forget here until sometime in March or maybe even April if she decides to overstay her welcome. For me it’s a good time, a warm time and I know a lot of folks don’t feel the same way. ¬†It’s a time to bake cookies and think about warm, nights filled with family and knitting and soup-filled tummies inside a warm home looking from the inside out at the cold, frosty night.

Wintertime has come.

 

 

Good Eats? Then Why Am I So Offended??

Cooking is like an art to me…a form of self expression. ¬†I collect cookbooks and recipes. ¬†I pore through them and pick and choose things that I think my family will not only like but will also EAT. ¬†In short, I really enjoy not only the process of cooking but I think what I enjoy most is the CHALLENGE of cooking.

I admit I am a big cookie artist. ¬†I love to find all sorts of different kinds of cookies to make. ¬†I recently started to feel the same way about basically any kind of cooking I am doing. ¬†And to me, it’s so much of an art that I also get really offended when the family turns its collective nose up at what I have worked so hard to produce.

Every night for me is like Cupcake Wars with real food!

And it’s hard to even figure what they’ll accept or reject. ¬†Take for example Sloppy Joes ¬†– REJECT! ¬†In fact, one of the children asked where were the noodles for the spaghetti sauce, very clearly missing the hotdog buns (I think they create less messy Joes) set beside the plates. ¬†He also missed the plates and got another one instead – yeah, the “children” are 21 and 29, respectively, but please, bear with me.

Tonight I made lemon chicken with sweet and sticky green beans and rice.  I even made the effort to make applesauce raisin bars for dessert.  Not even touched.  Last night I made them cheeseburger macaroni from scratch with Velveeta and most of ended up in the fridge.

I was crushed both times.

Last week, I went on strike and proclaimed for all to hear that I wouldn’t be making any NEW food OR cookies until all the leftovers STOPPED. ¬†I stopped making human sized portions too and stuck to child sized fare so there really wasn’t a lot to eat anyway and it was all first come, first served.

But now, I realize that I do get really offended when they reject what I make. ¬†Even the easy stuff. ¬†I mean, what am I supposed to do? ¬†I can’t even judge based on past experience what they will eat or won’t eat and I’m pretty much stuck making Happy Meal sized portions for a family of four adults for the forseeable future.

It gets even worse because I feel compelled to EAT this stuff when I prefer food I know they won’t even touch. ¬†Like chumus or falafel or vegetables or an apple. ¬†You get the picture.

Which brings me to my two evil confessions. ¬†First, yes, I hide food that I want to eat. ¬†Why? ¬†Because they are like locusts here. ¬†If I would put out a bag of tortilla chips that would take me a month to eat with salsa on the side as a snack….I’d never see them. ¬†So yes, I have a stash. ¬†And the second thing is I dole out cookies on a need to eat basis. ¬†I realized they were wolfing down my hard work like dime a dozen Dollar Tree cookies and so now I put out about half a dozen at a time. ¬†Is it mean? ¬†Probably but I felt so hurt that my hard work was eaten with such little regard. ¬†And I proved it, too, when I got them 3 dozen cookies for $0.99 from Aldis and they were gone in a day. ¬†About the same as it took them to inhale mine. ¬†So I don’t feel too badly about my evildoing.

It’s just all so difficult. How do you feed a pack of people like this? ¬†You can’t tell what they like (other than chocolate chip cookies from ANYWHERE) and you never know when or what they’ll eat.

So what do I do?  Any ideas?

I bought a head of cauliflower and tomorrow I am making Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with it. ¬†No one in this house will even go near it and I don’t even want them to.

They can have leftovers and believe me, there are a lot this week! ¬†They’re all made with good food from top notch recipes and you can take it from me, I worked hard to make them all. ¬†On second thought, maybe I SHOULDN’T complain OR be offended.

I’m getting quite a few nights off from cooking!

What Makes You Happy

It’s easy to write a blog post about those things that make me unhappy…and Lord knows I have written a lot of those lately. ¬†But what about those things that make me happy? ¬†I know it shouldn’t be that hard so why don’t I write more about them? ¬†Tonight I plan to do just that.

Sometimes when I am in the abyss it’s hard to think of anything that would make me really HAPPY. ¬†I mean what IS happiness anyway? ¬†But the reality is I know what happiness is. ¬†Happiness is beig with my son even when he’s rambing away for the gabillionth time about exacting revenge on the unsuspecting victim of the day as his alter ego, the Oera Ghost. ¬†Happiness is looking at my two freaky dogs when they are sleeping and wanting to hug and kiss them. ¬†Happiness is listening t o “I’m Just a Gigilo” at the end of my walk when I am on my way home. ¬†Happiness is hugging Scott when he comes home from work.

See? ¬†That’s not so hard.

Happiness is knowing Shabbat is right around the corner.  Happiness is being an Israeli citizen and aving had the greatest experience in my life of living in Jerusalem with my son.  Happiness is having a warm home and a soft bed and heat and air conditioning and a mixer to make cookies with.  Happiness is having running water.  Really.

Happiness is having a best friend who listens when the going gets rough and who isn’t afraid to say, hey, listen to ME when I get lost in myself. ¬†Happiness is being safe. ¬†Happiness is being loved.

There are so many things to be happy about.  Probably way more than there are to be sad or angry about but sometimes it seems that the bad things seem so enormous and overwhelming.  At least to me they can be consuming.

I hope that when I am down or sad or overwhelmed I’l remember to come back to this post or even just to my private journal and be happy in the moment because there are so many happys to put the bads in their place.

Memories – Tic Tacs, Velveeta and Baseball

I spent every summer with my grandmother to the point that a lot of my childhood memories revolve around the things that we did together and the memories I have of her.

I remember the blankets on the beds – blue flowery bankets edged in teal satin. ¬†Her perfume – that dark brown, “grandmother” perfum from Estee Lauder called (interestingly) Youth Dew. ¬†Her Adorn hairspray. ¬†The aluminum gliders on the porch. ¬†Fireflies in the twilight. ¬†The tree in the back yard. ¬†The peonies in the front yard. ¬†How she would sneak a cigarette on the back porch while my grandfather was working in his study. ¬†Laundry day and the laundry chute. ¬†Sewing with her in the basement. ¬†The way the books in the basement smelled and being scared of what really was behind THAT wooden door down there!

She, my grandfather and I would sit on their bed and watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball on KDKA every night they were on. ¬†If they weren’t on we would listen to them on the radio and if it was a really special night, we would go INTO Pittsburgh to see the game at Three Rivers Stadium! ¬†I loved each of those nights and love the Buccos to this day! ¬†I can still hear her kvell about her favourite players. ¬†When I was an exchange student in New Zealand the Pirates made it to the World Series and not only did my grandmother send me Heinz ketchup that year but she also send me all kinds of Pirate memorabilia that was in all of the stores so I wouldn’t miss out.

She was a home ec teacher and taught school for 30 years before she retired. ¬†My dad decided to take bartending school in Pittsburgh so while he would be in school, my grandmother would teach me to sew. ¬†I made a really geeky polyester outfit but the time we spent together making it remains priceless. I wish I had a sewing machine even now because I love sewing that much. ¬†When I was little and lived with her before my mom married my dad, my grandmother not only dyed her own shoes…she also made all of her own clothes. ¬†That’s some serious respect you’re seeing from over here!

I still have her teaching cookbook which I use a lot.  Her favorite recipes are marked in it.

One thing though she couldn’t stand were vegetables and the way she choked them down was copious quantities of Velveeta melted on them. ¬†I was basically starved at home since my parents were never there and school lunch was our only meal most of the time so this delicacy of Velveeta and broccoli or french cut green beans was like nectar!

And as far as I was concerned, her only really bad habit was her smoking.  I think because of it I can jokingly say she became addicted to Tic Tacs.  I know now that when I pop one in my mouth, that sweet vanilla mint outer coating makes me think immediately of her.  The smell of Youth Dew wafts around me and my grandmother is right there again.

I hope she knows how many memories she gave me and how very much I miss her. ¬†She is so much a part of who I am and tehe person I have become…more so I think than even my mother.

Tic tacs, velveeta, baseball and everything.

 

 

I Have a Goal – Please Sponsor Me for The Pittsburgh Marathon Miracle League Team

My new goal is to walk a 5k. ¬†I am not the fastest walker althogh I admit I am proud that I can walk faster than I ever did while on a treadmill. ¬†But…I CAN walk 5k every day so why not enter a walk, get a number and do it “professionally”?

It’s hard for me to anticipate and schedule simply because I am not “master of my own domain” because I can’t drive but it is a goal of mine and one that motivates me every morning to get out of bed and get moving.

The biggest one on my horizon is the Pittsburgh Marathon. ¬†Evan’s Miracle League baseball league, Caseys Clubhouse,¬† has formed a team to walk/run which will raise money for the facilities that the league uses and believe me, they are stellar. ¬†How could I not support a league that is inclusive to all kids with challenges and gives them a chance to be baseball stars for a season or two every year? ¬†So yeah, I’m walking.

If you’d like to sponsor me for a buck or two, go here to donate¬† –¬†¬†I’d really appreciate it! ¬†I have to raise $150 (or donate it myself) to participate and I figured yeah, I could raise that, so I signed up. ¬†So…please spread the word if you can. ¬†There are lots of kids who depend on the Miracle Leage to bring baseball into their lives, and I know, for me at least, as I watch them play, I sit there and think, what if? ¬†What if they could play with such joy with typical kids on school teams? ¬†What if typical kids could experience this joy when THEY play baseball or other sports? ¬†Just…what if? ¬†What if we all could experience this abandonment and this joy in everything we do?

Think about it too.  What if.

 

Today

Today is a day where I feel really good and am getting a lot accomplished.  So far:

  • I have slept until 6:00AM (not a small feat at all given MY track record of being up at 4am which, to be honest, I kind of felt cheated out of when I lost some of my “quiet time)
  • Done a load of dishes (the kitchen threw up on itself this weekend…I didn’t feel good Saturday or yesterday so there was a LOT of catchup since I forbid Scott to do them)
  • I vacuumed the living room AND the dining room
  • I got the trash together for The Boy to remove
  • I watched countless episodes of Say Yes To The Dress and cleaned up the DVR
  • I combed my hair
  • I watched Morning Express a gazillion times
  • I read an article about the Israeli offensive, “Protective Edge”
  • I read an article about the migrant crisis down south
  • I took my meds on time
  • I dusted the living room, straightened up my “nest” area and have two sleeping dogs to show for it
  • I made french toast
  • I have eaten 5 slices of provolone cheese
  • I drank two steaming mugs of tea and learned there is a HUGE difference between Yorkshire Gold and your top shelf store bought US variety (sadly)
  • I watched a preview for “Tammy”
  • I washed my bear, Edward’s, hair after a BAD cedarwood essential oil mishap
  • I ordered Evan a new ACCESS card (don’t even ask…his was thrown away)
  • I listed to Evan tell the dogs a story before he left with his “colleague” (read: aide)
  • I watched the rain
  • I checked out how my shamrock plants are doing

Not bad for 11:30 AM huh?