Alice Through the Looking Glass

I haven’t written in ages and thought that it was time I wrote again.

Yesterday made me think what a mad, crazy world we live in. Life has been very hectic and stressful and we haven’t had a chance to go away for quite some time. I had a ride to the train station in the morning and then back home again in the late afternoon so took the opportunity and rode on the train to Herzlia where my bestie (as she puts it) picked me up. She treated me to breakfast at her house and then together with her two youngest kids went to the Herzlia beach. The sun, sea and sand was amazing to the say the least. The time there was so relaxing and exactly what I needed. I had time to shower and change at her house and get on the train to return, only to have the train delayed because of sirens and miss my connection thus missing the ride home.

Being the master of taking advantage of every situation that I am I promptly called DH and made arrangements to meet in Beer Sheva to do our weekly shopping instead of me going on my own on Friday.

So feeling very laid back and rested I got on the train to Beer Sheva, reading my Kindle and just chilling. At some point the train started going real slow (I was told that this was due to a warning of rockets). Then as the doors opened on the train to disembark the sirens went in Beer Sheva. The four teenage girls in front of me started screaming and the soldiers tried to calm them, all this while running to the secure room, which we could not have reached in time, so I and a few other people went off into a stairwell which is well protected. I observed a woman, probably in her forties biting her lip, trying to prevent the tears from falling. Finally we hear the Iron Dome, boom, boom, boom, boom and I saw her shudder with each bang. And the tears were still falling. Ten minutes later everyone had gone on their way but this poor lady was frozen in the spot. It took me around fifteen minutes to talk her out of her freeze. She was literally unable to move.

So my thoughts on this matter were really mixed. I left Herzlia feeling so calm and relaxed and when I reached Beer Sheva I actually still felt like that but I saw how people living in the firing line are feeling and that really is something that I believe the world does not and does not want to understand. The reality is that they are unable to live a normal life, no guarantees that they will make it to work on time, manage to get work done and all this time worrying about where the rest of their family is and whether they are safe from the rockets or their aftermath. Our lives are a mixture of day and night/peace and war. The underlying tension is unbearable.

I am loathe to make political statements but I really think that Bibi needs to show what he is made of now. He gave the talks a chance but there is a limit to our patience and willingness to put up with what is going on. The time for true action is now.

Because this is a food related blog I am giving you a recipe for smoked chicken/quinoa meatballs in cabbage envelopes. Our predecessors used to eat stuffed cabbage leaves and this is a more sophisticated take on the recipe.

0.500 gr minced chicken/turkey/beef
1/2 cup quinoa
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oil
salt and pepper
liquid smoke (2 drops)
1 TBS smoked paprika
1TBS garlic powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
1 whole cabbage
1 tin of crushed tomatos
1 tin of mushrooms
1 green pepper
Mix all the ingredients (except cabbage, crushed tomatos, mushrooms and pepper) together and allow to stand in the fridge for half an hour.
In the meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil, switch off and put the cabbage in. When it is sufficiently blanched remove the leaves one by one so you can use them.
PUt a tablespoon full of the mix in the center of a cabbage leaf and fold closed like an envelope.
Take heavy bottomed pot, put some oil inside, put on high flame, when it begins to sizzle place two or three cabbage leaves to cover the bottom. On top of that gently place the cabbage envelopes and then add the mushrooms, crushed tomatos, 2 cups of water (or more to cover the balls), the green pepper and if you are garlic lovers you can add some sliced garlic, salt and pepper, chilli if you like it. Bring to boil and then simmer covered for about 45 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.

Day of Remembrance/Independence Day – This blog should have been put up wasn’t so I am taking poetic liberty and putting it up today.

Tonight begins a 48 hour period of deep despair and then great joy.  The day of remembrance for me is a day of great sadness. The sadness I feel is not only for the families of those lost during war, or terror attacks but also for my children who even at a young age have lost friends to suicide, to car accidents and to terror attacks. So young, and yet to know so much pain. As a believing person one has faith that G-d takes those who he needs and that a person’s time should be well spent giving as much as he can because he does not know when that time will be over.

And then in the blink of an eyelid we are watching the Israeli flag rising and Hatikvah being sung and feeling the joy of living in the land of our forefathers. The land where our history is also our Bible and the land where we belong. Eretz Israel the land which was given to the Children of Israel for all eternity.  The place where we have made our home,our children have made their home. The land of beautiful contrasts of happiness and joy mixed with the sadness.  Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) – families get together, friends share their day.

So the recipes to be shared today are:

SHAKSHUKA (Israeli style)

Ingredients :   2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, 5 red ripe tomatos chopped, 1 small chopped onion, 4 chopped cloves of garlic, a tiny piece of spicy jalapeno or other green chili pepper, tomato paste, 1/2 cup of water, salt pepper and cumin  2 eggs per person (sufficient for up to 8 eggs depending on size of skillet)

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in skillet, add onions and garlic. When they start turning gold throw in the tomatos. Then add tomatos, allow to simmer then add water and tomato paste plus spices.
  2. When the mixture is boiling and has reduced add the eggs gently and allow to cook

 

OLIVE TAPENADE

400gr mixed olives, pitted

3 tablespoons oil

handful of coriander leaves

4 anchovies

1 tablespoon full of capers

3 cloves of garlic

juice of 1 lemon

Place in blender and mix until ready.

 

 

Sara Miriam Lurie (ob”m) – Sheila Lurie

My late mother, Sara Miriam Lurie (Sheila) passed away sixteen years ago at the age of 59. She died after an illness that lasted 6 hard months. The last time I spoke to her was Erev Yom Kippur when she told me that she could no longer deal with her pain and  was putting herself into hospice.

My late mother always put other people before herself. Hachnasat orchim was a rule with her. She always said to us “if there is room in your heart, there is room in your home”. When I turned 16 my parents threw me a party like no other. My friends came from all over and at the end of the evening there were 50 teenagers sleeping on mattresses throughout our house. My parents had a bachelor friend who ate at us every night, he fell ill.  I slept on the sofa for a few months while he recuperated in my bedroom. The stories could continue but instead I will devote my words tonight to the memory of my darling mother who is so sadly misses. Also this dedication is to my dear aunt Cyntha who passed away just after Rosh Hashana before my mother did.

Tomorrow night begins the chag of Sukkot. Aside from building a sukka and the other mitzvoth concerned witht he chag. Hachnassat orchim is one of the additional mitzvot. As well as hosting friends and family there is the custom of inviting Biblical guests. Seven in all – one for each night.

In addition to inviting friends and family into your sukkah, there is a custom of inviting seven biblical guests (one for each night). Although traditionally, these guests are the patriarchs of Judaism: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David in contemporary times, significant Jewish women have been added to this list of guests: Sarah, wife of Abraham; Rebecca, wife of Isaac; Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob; the prophetess Miriam, the sister of Moses; Deborah, one of our judges; and Ruth, an ancestor of David (Reform Judaism website).

The Sukkah’s spiritual energy invites the souls of Judaism’s seven great leaders to partake in the divine light on Earth.

What is the Garden of Eden? This is the place where worthy souls, having passed from this world, enjoy the light of the divine presence as they await entrance to the World to Come – i.e. the post-Messianic age (Talmud – Shabbat 152b; Derech Hashem 1:3:11).

The Zohar, the foremost book of Jewish mysticism, explains that the Sukkah generates such an intense concentration of spiritual energy, that the divine presence actually manifests itself there in a similar way to Eden. During Sukkot the souls of the seven great leaders of Israel – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and King David – actually leave Gan Eden to partake in the divine light of the earthly Sukkot (Zohar – Emor 103a).

Each day of Sukkot, all seven souls are present, but each takes his turn to lead the other six. Collectively these transcendent guests are known as Ushpizin, the Aramaic word meaning “guests.” To welcome these illustrious souls, many have the custom to recite a lengthy mystical invitation upon entering the Sukkah for the first time. Additionally, many invite the Ushpizin each time they partake of a meal in the Sukkah. Some Sephardic Jews even have the custom of setting aside an ornately-decorated chair covered with fine cloth and holy books.

Delving deeper, we find that the Ushpizin fit into a recurrent theme in Jewish philosophy – that time moves in set patterns and that history is moving toward an ultimate goal (Derech Hashem 4:7:2).

King David writes: “A thousand years in Your eyes are like a day” (Psalms 90:4). Each day of Sukkot corresponds to one of the days of the week, and to each of the seven millennia of human history – starting with Adam and leading to the Messianic era (Talmud – Sanhedrin 97a; Derech Hashem 1:3:9). Accompanied by the seven great leaders, Sukkot is the holiday that represents the concept of the Jewish people working together to bring about world peace and perfection (Sfas Emes).

Further, the Jewish mystical texts explain that each of the seven Ushpizin correspond to a fundamental spiritual pathway (sefirah) through which the world is metaphysically nourished and perfected (Derech Hashem 3:2:5, Zohar Chadash, Toldot 26c; cf. Zohar 2:256a).

  • Abraham represents love and kindness
  • Isaac represents restraint and personal strength
  • Jacob represents beauty and truth
  • Moses represents eternality and dominance through Torah
  • Aaron represents empathy and receptivity to divine splendor
  • Joseph represents holiness and the spiritual foundation
  • David represents the establishment of the kingdom of Heaven on Earth

When we act in ways that manifest one of these spiritual attributes, the divine light (as directed through that particular transcendental conduit) shines down into the world and brings it closer to its completion (Derech Hashem 4:2:2,5). As the Talmud says: “With the very measuring cup that a person measures, are [the spiritual influences] measured out for him” (Sotah 8b).

Aside from these lofty spiritual matters, Judaism’s primary emphasis remains on human actions. The Zohar (Emor 103a), after explaining the Ushpizin, continues:

“One must also gladden the poor, and the portion [that would otherwise have been set aside for these Ushpizin] guests should go to the poor. For if a person sits in the shadow of faith and invites those guests and does not give their portion [to the poor], they all remain distant from him…

One should not say “I will first satisfy myself with food and drink, and I shall give the leftovers to the poor.” Rather, the first of everything must be for one’s guests. If one gladdens his guests and satisfies them, God rejoices over him. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the others shower him…”

Similarly, Maimonides brings this as a matter of religious obligation: “While eating and drinking himself, one is obligated to feed the stranger, orphan, and widow, along with the other unfortunate poor… [One who does not] is not enjoying a mitzvah, but rather his stomach” (Laws of Yom Tov 6:18).

May the inspiration of the holy Ushpizin guests help us to fulfill the potential of the Sukkot holiday – enjoying and uplifting both ourselves and the world around us! (The 7 Ushpizin Guests
by Rabbi Joel Padowitz)

 And so, I hope and pray that in my mother Sheila and Cynthia’s zchut  we will be blessed with many opportunities to carry out the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim, both of our forefathers and other guests always.

 

 

 

Lemon chicken, minestrone soup and pap!

Growing up in a traditional Jewish household, the cuisine in my house was anything but. My mother encouraged us to taste everything before deciding whether we liked it or not. Till I was about ten we kept kosher and then we stopped. The reason being “my grandmother and her sister who lived with us were unable to chew the kosher meat with their false teeth”. Thank G-d this excuse would not work in today’s kosher world. Except for what is very obviously not kosher we are hardly limited in variety of food and variety of tastes.  

South Africa being a multi-cultural society with its roots in Africa, Holland, England, India, Malaysia and more has a large variety of traditional dishes. Although I did not grow up eating all of them we grew up with a combination of African, Indian and Jewish cuisine in our house. We were also encouraged to taste things that were foreign to us such a olives, spicy peppers, capers etc.  This exposure certainly gave me a broad taste in food and my children have been infused with the same passion for variety and change.  Amongst the favorite, famous recipes in my household were lemon chicken, minestrone soup and chicken/beef curry. Aunty Dinkie, my gran’s sister who lived with us was a genius in the kitchen and we were very spoilt. She would get up at 5 every morning and make lunch for my father and us children.My brothers and father would receive freshly made cold meat sandwiches, I who did not like bread (and still don’t) got either minestrone soup in a thermos or freshly cut salad with dressing, depending on the weather.   When I started visiting South Africa with my children, they were showered with the same loving care and enjoyed all the delicacies  I did.  My daughter Gavi took the easy way out and married a chef. He cooks outstandingly well but cannot compare with Savta’s minestrone soup (recipe at the end of this blog). My son Matanya on the other hand who is currently serving in the army asks for Auntie Dinkies curry(also at the end of the blog) when he comes home for a furlough. Lemon chicken is a firm favorite of the other three Tal, Kerem and Shammai. My husband joins his son in his favorite dish – curry. He shared with me a story once, of visiting an Indian spice market and seeing a spice named “mother-in-law’s hellfire”. When he incurred my late mother’s wrath, (which did happen occasionally)  he said he knew and understod exactly what that tasted like!!!!  Each spice has a name and a story.  Besides all these above dishes we were also spoilt with home-made traditional Jewish dishes such as chicken soup with kneidlach,  perogen, chopped liver, pickled herring and more. Today I enjoy making these dishes myself and hope to share these recipes with you in the future.
I read up a bit about the history of South African cooking and got some interesting details.

  • Traditional African food is pap (a type of porridge made with maize meal and can be eaten sour for breakfast or savory with lunch and supper). It is usually served with tomato and onion gravy and where available, a meat stew.
     The Cape was set up in 1652 by the Dutch as a refreshment station for ships travelling from Europe to the Far East. The well-known Dutch East India Company bartered and traded in many things, including varied spices. During the 150 years that Holland ruled the Dutch culinary palate infused itself into the South African kitchen. Rice and some spices were introduced then. The other spices came later with the arrival of other immigrants. 
  •  During 1667 slaves from Java and Indonesia were brought to the Cape and they introduced their special cooking methods and tastes.  Their condiments and flavoring (curry) had an even bigger influence than the Dutch did. 
     Boerewors (Afrikaner sausage) came from German influence.  Boerewors and biltong are known world-wide as South African delicacies and very few people who have left South Africa do not long for these treats.
  •  The people who came to South Africa had to travel long distances and so the method of barbecuing meat (braaivleis) became popular as did the making of biltong (dried meat).  A type of stew called potjiekos also became popular. This was a type of one-pot dish using any and all vegetables available, chicken or meat and spices cooked in a cast-iron pot over a fire. The funny thing for me is that my children used to come home and talk about eating pookiekos and I thought it was some unusual dish. Only when I saw the pot did I realize that this was the true-blue potjiekos.   Dried bread/cake became rusks.   In this way many of the foods were preserved for the long travelling time that the immigrants were to undertake.
    During the 1700s Britain took over and introduced English style food.  This still exists today but on a lesser scale.  During the 1800s the British established farms and plantations in Natal and brought Indians to work as laborers for them. They introduced the Indian cuisine which exists in SA to this day. 
  •  Finally during the 19th century there was migration to South Africa and some other national foods were introduced. The Portuguese for example introduced peri-peri.
    If you are interested in learning more about South Africa and its cuisine you can follow this link:
    http://www.south-africa-tours-and-travel.com/south-africa-food.html

This post deals with South African cooking and I am including some recipes. Further recipes will be included in a later blog.

I will also be posting pictures in future blogs.

Yours, until the next time.

Colleen

SAVTA SHEILA’S MINESTRONE SOUP

Ingredients:
• 1 chopped onion
• 1 cup diced carrot
• 1 cup leek & turnip
• ½ shredded cabbage
• ½ cup chopped celery
• 8-10 cups of broth (chicken or onion)
• 1 small tin tomato puree
• 1 tin crushed tomatoes
• 1 and a half cups of diced potato
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 6 marrow bones
• ½ cup spaghetti
• 1 tin butterbeans
• 1 tablespoon parsley or celery leaves
Directions:
Fry onion in butter till limp. Add leeks, carrots, cabbage, turnips, celery. Drain all oil off. Add remaining ingredients except for the potatoes and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for about an hour and then add the cubed potatoes.  Allow to cook until potatoes are soft.
AUNTIE DINKIE’S CURRY

Ingredients:
½ cup of canola oil
1 whole chicken cut up/1.500 kg beef/lamb cut into chunks
2 ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
1 tin of peas and carrots
Curry powder
1 chili pepper
2 tablespoons onion soup powder
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1 bottle of apricot jam
3 potatoes
Directions:
Chop the eggplants, tomatoes and onion into small squares. Heat the oil and then throw the vegetables into the hot oil. When the onions are brown add the curry and mix well. Then add the chicken pieces (or the meat).  Add chili pepper, onion powder, water, vinegar and apricot jam. Finally add the tin of peas and carrots and bring the pot to the boil. When it begins boiling turn the heat down and simmer open for one and a half hours. Keep mixing every now and again and when it has been cooking for an hour and a half add the potatoes chopped into small cubes into the pot. Cook until soft and serve.
Serve together with:
• Dessicated coconut
• Chopped tomato and onion with 1 tablespoon each, vinegar, oil and sugar. One teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper
• Sliced banana

MOMMY’S LEMON CHICKEN
Ingredients:
• 3 packets of chicken pieces (preferably wings)
• 3 punnets of mushrooms or three tins of mushroom slices
• Juice of 5 lemons
• 3 tablespoons of garlic powder
• 3 tablespoons of paprika (if smoked is available that is preferable)
• Some dried parsley
Directions:
1. Place sliced mushrooms on the bottom of a pyrex.
2. Put chicken pieces on top of the mushrooms
3. Put juice over the chickens
4. Scatter spices over the chicken
5. Cover with tinfoil and cook in a hot oven for one and a half hours
6. Remove the tinfoil and allow to cook for another half an hour.

Three Bean Salad with Sheila’s moxie

My family (like many others) is now scattered all over the globe, I am in Israel, my one brother is in SA with my father still there and my other brother in Australia. My cousins are spread over SA, USA, Australia, Israel and more. I asked my cousin who is a super ballebusta living in USA and frequently entertains to share her thoughts on my late mom and to send me a recipe from her. She had many memories but no recipe although she did remember my mom making a great three bean salad. I remember that salad too and have my own version thereof. See recipe at the end of this blog.

This is what Liora had to say about my mom.

Warm, opinionated, a hearty laugh, a good listener and a sharp shooter.

Auntie Sheila was a very kind and caring aunt. I always felt very welcome in her house and never excluded even if there was only adult company around. The more people the better, seemed to be Auntie Sheila’s motto. She loved having a house full of people in her home and entertaining. The mood was relaxing and the atmosphere inviting. I especially remember that Auntie Sheila would have over bachelors, and other lonely people, always including them as family. Sunday lunches segued into Sunday teas and then drinks. Looking back I am reveling in the joy those good times brought, how carefree and fulfilling they were. Those were really the best of times; little did we know it then.

The food as tasty and inviting. Besides the table being fully laden buffet style, Auntie Sheila’s three bean salad stood out to me above everything else. Auntie Sheila was also an astute business woman. She had ‘moxi’. My clearest memory was receiving these luxurious purple velvet pants from Babies Choice – the excitement of trying on that outfit for the first time is still palpable today! It was one of my favorite go to outfits! My sister and I also received dresses for yomtov from ‘the shop’. Auntie Sheila was extremely family oriented and cared very deeply for her family and friends. She was popular amongst all and well respected.

Auntie Sheila was the type of person that if you needed her she would be there for you at 3 in the morning. She was a loyal friend. I remember when my mom was ill, Auntie Sheila dropped everything and made the trip to Johannesburg to see my mom.

I miss you Auntie Sheila. Through your wonderful daughter’s book of your recipes, may your legacy continue to live on.

Sheila’s Three Bean Salad with Moxie

Ingredients:
• 2 can green beans
• 2 cans of butter beans/2 cups of cooked white beans
• 2 cans of whole hummus
• 1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
• 0.500 gr sliced mushrooms – preferably fresh but canned can be used
• 5 cloves of garlic chopped finely
• 1/3 cup lemon juice
• 2/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon celery seed

Directions:
Mix together beans, hummus and onion. In a glass jar mix the remaining ingredients and shake very well/mix in blender. Pour over the mixture and let set in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

Variations:
Roast cashew nuts and pistachios with a handful of sesame seeds. Throw into salad with one tablespoon of soya sauce. Serve with Asian noodles

Hello world!

Sheila Lurie (born Sara Miriam Firer) was my mother, only child of Blume and Sime Firer.  My mother was an inspiration not only to me but to all her friends and family and in fact to all who knew her.  Some of our friends used to joke with us about her words of wisdom and would say that we should write a book called “Sheila says”.  In addition to her bubbly personality, sharp redhead tongue where necessary, and her huge heart, she was always welcoming to all.  My mother taught me all I know about chessed and hachnasat orchim.  On a Friday night when the Jewish soldiers were brought to the shul my mother would say to us, don’t leave until all the soldiers have a place.  When I had my sixteenth birthday party our entire house, except for my parents’ bedroom and the kitchen were covered by sleeping teenagers.  Throughout my childhood I was always giving up my bedroom for the stragglers and strangers that my mother brought in, people who had no-one else, people who were ill and needed taking care of and the list goes on.  Amongst my mother’s many talents were her cooking skills and her love for taking part in the kitchen preparation.
This year, erev Sukkot, and also my mother’s yartzheit I have begun compiling the recipes I have collected and tested throughout the years.  Many of the recipes I was privileged to receive  from the books my mother had and which she had made her own.  These recipes have been  tried, adapted and tested throughout my 25 years of marriage and of carrying out my mother’s legacy of hachnasat orchim. I have dedicated my life and taught my children the tenets of chessed and ahavat achim, things I learnt from my mother.
This blog is in memory of my late mother “obm” who passed away sixteen years ago.  Her memory and the very many happy years we had together will always remain in my heart.  She would be truly touched and blessed to know that her grandchildren carry out her traditions of hachnasat orchim and chessed to the nth degree.  They too miss her and always will.

Until next time.