Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Baking Day

I woke up this morning in the mood to bake. At first, I was just planning to make some pizza dough from a recipe my friend Talia gave me, then I decided I would take this Sunday afternoon to make a large batch of challahs made from the simple recipe in Taste of Challah by Tamar Ansh. I also thought this would be a great opportunity to use my mixer, since it's supposed to be able to handle serious dough. Long story short, it couldn't. It did well doing the initial mixing, but as I added more flour, the machine suddenly stopped. It overheated. While on "Stir." Granted, this recipe uses 16 cups of flour. Still, I had more confidence in my mixer than it deserved and I feel let down. Oh well. I had to do the rest of the kneading by hand, which wasn't so bad because I had my trusty assistant, Diana, to help out. She was an immense help after everything had risen and we needed to roll out the dough. She's quite skilled with a rolling pin, if I do say so. The challah came out very yummy (I gave Diana one and we decided to take a taste of it) and I highly recommend it.

While the challahs were going through their final rising, we whipped up that pizza dough (very quick, very easy) and made 4 calzones which came out very tasty. I filled them with ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese and filled 2 of them with sauteed mushrooms and onions and the other 2 with sauteed spinach and onions.

So now I'm exhausted and my kitchen is a mess, but it was certainly fun. Thanks for playing, Diana! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Food and More Shopping

This past week was a pretty nice one. It had the usual work and school, but it also had the Macy's one day sale, which I went to Wednesday night with my mother. I originally went to look for a new coat. Now, I happen to own a large number of sweatshirts, and I own 3 coats and a rain jacket, all of which are incorrectly sized. Well, one coat fits, but it's falling apart (though honestly, I bought it when I was in 9th grade for about $10, so I'm surprised how long it did hold up). The second coat is huge, and is actually a men's puffy coat that I bought in Israel. It's actually a really nice coat, but style-wise, it's not really my thing anymore. The third coat is my shabbos coat and it's really long and really warm and bulky. The rain coat is way too big. So, I got this new coat on sale, and I'm loving it. It fits properly, it goes down to my knees and it's feminine and waterproof. All the best qualities of a good coat.

Anyway, naturally, I ended up buying a few other things, because who can resist a 75% off rack, really?

Following this shopping expedition, I wrote a one page paper all about how shopping makes me feel awake and happy, and I handed it in the next day. I don't know yet if I got credit for it. Here's hoping!

This shabbos was nice. Yaakov and I went to my parents' house for dinner and then had some friends over for lunch. I was pretty thrilled with the recipes I cooked this week:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
To start off with, gathering the ingredients for this recipe proved to be quite an adventure. Most of the stuff was very easy to find, the tough part was the can of diced green chiles. It wasn't at 7-mile. It wasn't at Shoppers. And because I know very little about hot peppers, I didn't know what to get instead. I spoke to my dad about it, but he couldn't think of a good replacement, either. I then called Isaac K., because he's got a lot of knowledge in the cooking arena. He suggested anneheim peppers. Well, right after I bought them, I called my dad who said he was on his way to Food Lion to see if they had the canned chiles there. Lo and behold they did, so my daddy saved the day. :)
Now for a review: Because I made this in the crock pot for shabbos lunch, it got a little overdone. The funny thing is, I started it cooking on low at about 4PM on Friday, and I figured it would be best to move it to the blech after about 12 hours, but I thought, "No way am I gonna get up at 4 AM to take it out of the crock pot." I did, however, end up awake at 4AM because I had to use the bathroom, so I was able to switch it over. The chicken ended up overcooked and dry anyway, but the soup itself was very tasty. I may try it again sometime as a weekday meal.

Mushroom Stuff Chicken Breasts
This recipe was AMAZING. Because of the white wine, it has that serious gourmet flavor, and the mushrooms are tender and delicious. If you read the comments on the recipe, you can see the changes that I made when cooking it. It was pretty easy to make but seems really impressive when you serve it. It was delicious and there's no question I'll be making it again.

Lemony Green Beans
This was really easy to make, but I found I wasn't too impressed with the flavor in the end. However, I had previously drained the liquid from the stuffed chicken breasts so that I wouldn't have a problem reheating it on shabbos, and I hadn't wanted to throw it away since it smelled and tasted so good. So, I tried dipping a green bean in it and decided that was what they needed. So I poured it in, shook it up and put it in the fridge over night. The combined flavors of the lemon and garlic and the white wine, rosemary, sage and chicken made for a pretty nice side dish.

Okay, for those of you who actually sat through this post, have a cookie. Sometimes, when I read this blog, it puts me to sleep. Who knew I was this boring? But, yeah, cooking really is the most exciting part of my life these days. So sad...and tasty...

Be well, everyone and have a good week. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some more food...

So this shabbos Yaakov and I decided to have a quiet dinner at home. Lately, I've gotten really into having fresh salmon as a friday night main course. It simplifies the meal by removing the "fish course," it's still a chashuva food (at least in our opinion), it's tasty and also it's light and doesn't leave us feeling stuffed and sick. This week I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, "Quick and Kosher," for Dijon Ginger Salmon (or something to that effect). It's very easy to make, like all the recipes in that fabulous cookbook, and was delicious.

I also made some chicken soup and then, because I was too lazy to make matzah balls, I threw in some deli ends to give it more substance. Now, this is an idea I got from a friend's mother who did it when we came over once shortly before Pesach because she didn't feel like buying the necessary ingredients to make kreplach. The only real downside to using deli ends is that it tends to overpower the chicken soup flavor, so it really becomes a whole different creature which I call "Deli soup." You know, because I'm so creative.

Now, as for side dishes, I made my standard salmon dinner sides: cous cous and green beans. The couscous was pretty basic, made according to box directions but I added some seasoning to the water before boiling. The fresh green beans were mixed with soy sauce, sesame teriyaki sauce and sauteed ginger, garlic and onion. I mistakenly overcooked them so they came out mushy when I tend to prefer them crisper (but Yaakov likes them mushier, so it's all good.)

It all came out very yummy and we avoided making ourselves sick by overeating. Sadly, I didn't make any dessert. :(

I did, however, also make a broccoli kugel (also from Quick and Kosher) which I brought to my parents' house for lunch which was also very tasty.

After shabbos, Yakov and I went to Rabbi Katz's history shiur at Beth Tefillah which was incredibly fabulous. My favorite story from the night: President Teddy Roosevelt was giving a speech at a Jewish venue and was, like a natural politician, talking about how he had appointed the first Jewish cabinet member, Oscar Straus in the US not because he was Jewish, but because he was the best American for the job. Jacob Schiff had fallen asleep during the speech, and President Roosevelt nudged him awake and said, "Isn't that right?" Schiff said, "What's going on?" and Roosevelt replied, "I'm talking about Straus!" to which Schiff replied, "Oh yes! Roosevelt called me up and said, 'Get me the best Jew you've got!'"

I assume the story is true because Rabbi Katz related it.

Anyway, that's my shabbos/motzei shabbos. Good night, all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shopping, Beef and Nostalgia

Well, it's that time of the week again, so here goes. DISCLAIMER: If you have little to no interest in hearing the details of my shopping trip from today, don't read the next paragraph!

As good fortune would have it, due to the federal holiday my second job of the day was closed so I got to take some me time. First my parents took Yaakov, Alan and myself out to lunch, then I went shopping with my mother, which is something I rarely get to do. Now, I love spending time with my mom, especially when we're shopping because occasionally she buys me things. ^_^ Today, I got a nice pair of suede boots from Nordstrom Rack (the only kind of Nordstrom I shop in). I looked at some really cute and REALLY on sale dresses at Macy's too, but they didn't work out. :(

Now on to cooking details: I currently have some beef in the oven. Several months ago I was buying meat and my dad was in the store at the same time and suggested that I buy large quantities of flanken because it was on sale. Well, I had used all but the last package, which I discovered in the freezer last night and put in the fridge to defrost. I just stuck it in the oven on top of some brown rice and poured one packet of Tabatchnik's frozen Frenchman's Onion Soup over it. (I had attempted to eat that soup as soup a while back and discovered that 1, it was fleishig {and who makes french onion soup without cheese?!} and 2, it was SOOOOOO salty. But it seems like it would make great gracy. Guess we'll find out.) I have no vegetables in the house or we'd be eating some of those too. Oh well.

That's really all I have to talk about. Except that I have a 1 page paper due tomorrow on, and I quote, "the cycles in (my) life." My teacher is fond of giving very vague assignments because he wants to see what we'll do with it. I've written about relationship cycles that I've noticed. The way that we cycle through friendships (or at least I do O_O) by spending lots of time with someone during a certain period and then spending significantly less time with them at other periods. It's phrased a little more eloquently (I hope) in the paper.

On that note, I've recently been going through some old pictures on my computer and discovering how much I miss some of my old friends. There are so many people I've lost touch with, either out of necessity or because we just drifted apart, and I really miss some of them. Admittedly, it's a pretty short list. Most of the people I removed from my life were removed with good reason and I rarely feel nostalgic for them. There are, however, a few people who I really wish I could have kept, or who I wish lived closer, or who I wish I could see more often. This was, actually, another reason that I got rid of facebook. It often served as a constant reminder of how many friends I've lost over the years. Just because I'm friends with them on facebook doesn't actually mean that we're "in touch." It just means we know what the other is doing, but there's little-to-no personal contact involved. There's no real friendship there.

Am I babbling? I'm babbling. I'm sorry. Tell me more about you. ~flutters eyelashes~

Don't ask. I'm tired and hungry and it made sense when I wrote it, ok? Anway, hope you enjoyed this long rambling post. Have a good week!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today has been one of those days. I woke up bright and late to get ready for class and decided I was in a pretty mood, so I got a little dressed up. Then, I walk out to my car and discover, to my shock and amazement, that the driver's side window is broken. Well, it took a couple of minutes for me to process, but once I did I managed to get my jaw closed and call Yaakov and my dad. Yaakov remembered that the lawn mowers had been working when he left to walk to shul, and suggested that one of them had done it. My dad came right over so I could take his car to school and, being the wonderful daddy that he is, also took care of filing a police report and calling the building management. Well, it turns out the management had a message from the landscaping company saying that they had accidentally broken someone's window, so we assume that would be mine. So that's the good news, I guess, that someone else will pay for the repairs. The bad news is, I don't know when they'll pay for the repairs. So, I guess we'll wait and see.

On top of that, I'm generally pretty stressed out about life and such. Best laid plans of mice and men and all that. I've got a lot of thinking and planning left to do, and I'm sure G-d will find ways to uproot them all over again in the future. Oh well, such is life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Shidduch Story

So as some of you may know by now and many may not, my brother Shmuel (Jeff) just got engaged last week. Everything was very sudden, of course, because they were only dating for about 3 or 4 weeks, but my family decided we wanted to go to Dallas (where the girl, Mya, is from) so that we could meet Mya and her family, as well as to be there for the engagement.

For starters, I can't say enough good things about this family (just ask Yaakov!), and Dallas is a beautiful community. Mya is a wonderful girl and is definitely a perfect shidduch for Shmuel. The weekend was just a blast and I'm really glad we went. I"yH, the wedding should be in Israel, hopefully sometime around mid-January, though we don't have a date pinned down just yet.

Now here comes a fun story that I probably shouldn't share because I know that I'll never live it down, but here goes: My parents decided to extend their trip in Dallas, but my brother Alan and I returned to Baltimore today as per our original plans. My parents had left their car in the garage at BWI and gave us the ticket to pick it up. Here's the thing though, as we started walking towards the car, Alan says, "Oh, I don't have the key, so I'll need yours." Now, at that moment, I stop dead in my tracks. "Are you serious? Wait, are you serious?! I left all of my keys at home because I figured I wouldn't need them!" So, we ended up stranded in the airport garage until Yaakov came to bring us the keys (which was deemed simpler than just getting a ride because we had the ticket to get out of the garage.)

So, yeah, that's my story. I'm not incredibly lucid right now, so I'm not telling it as well as it deserves to be told, but there it is.

I hope to be able to share my family's simcha with all of you, and hope that you should all experience such simchas of your own. Mazal tov and good night!