23 July, 2016

FOOD MUSINGS - Did you know that........

CINNAMON: Have you ever eaten cinnamon? Don't say "yes" too quickly; you may be wrong. Cinnamon-snobs (and yes there are such people) say that only Ceylon cinnamon is"true cinnamon." In the U.S. most of what is sold as "cinnamon" is of the Cassia or Saigon variety, NOT Ceylon. Both Cassia and Saigon are hard and have high levels of coumarin (a substance known to cause liver damage). Ceylon cinnamon is soft and brittle, with ultra low coumarin levels, making it healthier. Most people find Ceylon smells and tastes better too. Soooo, what's in your spice jar? More info is available at

GRAVY FOR MEATLOAF: Do you like gravy on your meatloaf?I do, but meatloaf drippings are not the stuff from which good gravy is made, so what to do? There's always brown gravy mix, but it is so dark and strong. I have a better solution. I discovered that using beef broth (instead of water) with a packet of turkey gravy mix makes a great beefy gravy with a better flavor than the brown gravy mix. Personally I use Publix gravy mix but this would probably work with other brands as well. Give it a try; I think you will like it.

FLOUR: We all know that whole-wheat flour and bread are brown because they contain all of the wheat berry, not just the endosperm. Well guess what; there is such a thing as white whole-wheat, and it did not get that way by being bleached.  Most flour is made from red wheat berries, but there are also white wheat berries, so whole-wheat flour made from those berries is white. Who knew? I learned this from joythebaker.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope you learned something of interest.  Happy Eating!

11 July, 2016

The Return To Blogging

Six-plus years ago I was regularly blogging.  I lived in Israel and I maintained several blog sites - dedicated to helping olim (immigrants to Israel) learn more about communities along the north coast.  I occasionally posted personal bits on the 28N82W blog (this one), but that was not my focus. My focus was providing information to meet the needs of the north coast olim.  I had guest posters, who lived in the various north coast communities, so I wasn't going it alone.  If I get back into blogging I will, of course, have a different focus, but what will that be?

My friends and family are staunch conservatives, except for the ones who are flaming liberals, so if I don't want to offend; politics is out.  And speaking of taboo topics, religion is right up there with politics, so scratch the idea of a Jewish Life blog.  I love cats, and judging by all the internet sites extolling feline virtues and showing really cute kitty cat pics, so does most of the world.  Great -  a topic that won't offend anyone!  On the other hand, this field seems drastically overcrowded, so again I have identified a no-go topic.  I have a friend who has a blog dedicated to giving a run-down of what he does each day, including photos taken both at home, and while he is out and about. I could do the same, but I don't think that is quite my style.

I need a theme, a purpose, a goal.  And I don't want to write everyday.   I think I have it figured out. My friend's blog shares how he spent his time each day.  I spend most of my time researching topics of interest to me. In doing so, I learn lots of new things.  So, instead of recounting what I do, as my friend does, I could share what I learn - the most interesting things I learn each week.  Maybe you will read, and maybe you won't, but either way I will have a goal of really thinking about what I learned and identifying those things I think may interest or benefit others.  And maybe, I will throw in a personal update as well.

03 January, 2010

Subject: the President's New Suit

A friend emailed this story to me. I do not know the original source so cannot give credit.

As you know President Obama just returned from China . While he was there the premier of China gave him a gift of a beautiful bolt of cloth. When President Obama returned he wanted to have a suit made from the cloth so he called a tailor on London 's famous Seville Row to come over and make him a suit.

When the tailor arrived he measured the President and he measured the cloth and declared that he could not make him a suit. "There is not enough material" the tailor said.

The President was disappointed but after thinking about it for a while he called the French Ambassador and asked him if he could recommend a French tailor that could make him a suit. The Ambassador said that he would have one of France 's top men's designers flown over to make him a suit. When the French designer arrived he measured the President and he measured the cloth and declared that he could not make him a suit. "There is not enough material" the designer said.

President Obama was disappointed and happened to mention the problem to the Israeli Ambassador. The Ambassador told him not to worry. He knew of a tailor in Israel that could make him a suit from this fine cloth.

A few days later Yankel shows up at the White House. He measured the President and he measured the cloth and told him that not only would he make him a suit but a vest and an extra pair of pants to go with it. Stunned the President asked how this Israeli tailor could not only make him a suit but a vest and an extra pair of pants when the English and French tailors said that there was not enough material.

The Israeli tailor looked at President Obama and said, "Mr. President, in Israel you are not such a big man."

05 October, 2009

NATIONAL BIKE-RIDING DAY, and other things...

In case there is even one person out there who actually awaits these posts, I apologize for the delay. First there was the transition back to the Haifa Ulpan, after refusing to go back to the Nahariya Ulpan after the day I left in tears; then there were (and still are) holidays; and then I was (and still am) ill. I probably had a lower resistance to whatever was going around after having completed a 25+ hour fast, and the fact that I commute on the train everyday, where I expose myself to germs from hundreds of other travelers probably didn't help.

This is the first day I have been out of bed for awhile, but at least I am not missing Ulpan, as we are on Sukkot break. I hope to get better enough to travel to either Tiberius or Tzfat this week. If so, that will be a post with photos. Anyway, I had to get this post out of my head, and onto the screen, as it were. So, here it is: National Bike-Riding Day......

SUNDAY EVENING (just before dusk), SEPTEMBER 27: Imagine your typical (okay, let's go with stereotypical as that is more fun) American tourist in Israel. He is, of course, completely unfamiliar with Israeli holidays but he can't help but notice something is going on. Err.. actually it is more what he notices NOT going on. He has traveled from the city where he is staying, to a smaller town - just out sightseeing. He has done this before with no problem, but he begins to get worried when he notices many businesses are closing and the traffic is disappearing from the streets.

Soon our tourist realizes there are no buses, no sheruts (group taxis), and no individual taxis. There are always individual taxis - even on Shabbat. What could be going on? More importantly, how will he get back to his room? He notices a few people walking to synagogues, but not very many so he decides it cannot be any major religious holiday. Besides, they just had that New Year thingy about a week and a half ago, so he figures they wouldn't be having any other big holy days soon. No, it cannot be religious because there just aren't that many people going to the synagogues.

He has never seen anything like it. As he makes his way, walking, back to the big highway that runs through town he sees it is completely deserted! Eight lanes of empty macadam - but not for long. Soon people begin to come out of their homes and he cannot believe how quickly the streets are again filled - but not with motorized traffic. He comes to the conclusion it is National Bike-Riding Day.

Bike are everywhere; there are all shapes and sizes and most appear to be brand new. Most children are on bikes, but those without bikes are on roller-blades, skateboards, or tricycles. The parents are out watching the children, visiting, and having something to drink.

The synagogue folks make their way home, walking through the throng of bikes and other vehicles. He finds a park bench from which to watch and by the time it is 11 P.M. he decides he may actually have to walk back to his hotel room. On the way back he eventually sees a car and manages to catch a ride but cannot really communicate with the older driver who sounds as if he is speaking Russian. Our tourist decides the man must have attended school before English became required in the Israeli school system. Our tourist uses his limited Hebrew to thank the man when he gets out in front of his hotel.

The next day, Monday, he is surprised to again see many people out bike-riding, and very few cars on the streets. Again, businesses are closed, and many people are having picnic meals in the park. Some have picnic baskets attached to their bicycles and others pull their meal in a child's red wagon. Our tourist is in awe.

Being very health oriented and green-minded, he cannot wait to get home and tell his friends about this wonderful Israeli holiday that promotes exercise and an abstinence from vehicles that pollute the air with fossil fuels. As someone who tries to keep up on these sort of things he cannot believe he was unaware of the holiday's existence. He thinks it must be something relatively new, but on the other hand, the traditions seem to be well established, so maybe the the holiday is not new. When he gets back to the U.S. he plans to try to start something like this in his home state of California. He begins thinking of catchy names by which the new holiday could be called, and then momentarily wonders what the Israelis call their holiday.

He also noticed a few people going to synagogues again; then he remembered he heard somewhere that some Jews pray three times a day, every day. He decided some of these Jews were probably taking advantage of the bike-riding holiday to go to synagogue even if they did not always pray three times per day. He found himself thinking they were probably lazy and should be ashamed of themselves for not getting out and supporting this day that honors exercise and ecology. After all, they could pray anytime but how often does someone get a day off to exercise and show their support for ecology? What a modern, forward-thinking country, this Israel.

July 2016 NOTE:  I posted this several years ago.  At the time I thought everyone would "get it," but I have since learned that is not the case.  So, for the record, there is no such thing as an Israeli National Bike Riding Day.  This was a satirical post describing Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and a day of fasting.  Israel is the Jewish state, nonetheless when in Israel on Yom Kippur one will see more secular than religious activity - primarily bike-riding and picnics.

20 August, 2009

HOME SWEET HOME -- Oh what a relief it is!

The search is over! I have found a place to rent. Signed the papers and paid the money but it is not effective until 1 September. Also, my lift which I had been told was here in late July, apparently is not here, but rather is arriving on 4 September. Okay, for all three or four of you who sometimes read this and might be interested, here are the details.
  • 3 rooms (that means 2 bedrooms)
  • 2 bathrooms
  • laundry room
  • balcony
  • 1st floor (that means 1st above ground floor)
  • appliances included
  • security building (visitors use intercom to request entry into building)
  • lift
  • Location is on Hazamir, in East Nahariya
I will try to go visit the building again before moving, so I can take some photos to post here.

08 August, 2009

Karmiel, the Beautiful; 9 August 2009

Julia is still in the hospital. It is one week longer than the original amount of time they had estimated, and we still do not know when she will be released. Anyway, as soon as she comes home, I am taking a trip to Karmiel. Now that I have given up (at least temporarily) on living in a coastal town, I have been looking at a few other possibilities. Karmiel is beautiful. Of course I have only visited virtually, by use of Google Earth, Egged Bus Routes, Panoramia, and Yad2.

During my daily virtual visits, I have seen what it looks like, plotted distances for walking, and learned the bus routes and major stops. I have marked many of the locations important to me and I am finding rentals and homes for sale at reasonable prices within walking distance of the Masorti (conservative) synagogue. If I move to Karmiel, I will actually be able to attend services. Something I have not been able to do in Haifa.

As you can see, I have attached several Karmiel photos (from Panoramia via Google Earth) with this post. When I figure out how to do it, I will put an entire Karmiel album on facebook. I trust that when you see the photos, you will have to agree that Karmiel is beautiful. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think of it - even if you do not agree that it is beautiful.

02 August, 2009

In Addition to The Rent...

If you know me at all you know I absolutely detest renting. But, being a landlady, I do know something about renting. And let me tell you, renting in Israel is very different from renting in the U.S.

First let me describe the housing one will find. As you might expect, most housing here is multiple-family. While they may exist, I have not yet seen any multi-family buildings that are solely rental units. It is basically a lot of condominiums, with units in the building being in varying condition, due to having various owners. Some buildings are mostly inhabited by renters, some mostly by owners, and others are mixed. Even if there are mostly renters, there is not high turnover since 12 month contracts are standard.

Can you say, "IN ADDITION TO THE RENT," four times really fast? No, it is not a tongue twister, just a pocket-book buster; read on.

In most cases there is no building superintendent, so building issues are handled by a building committee. It is similar to a condo association board, and collects a monthly fee (similar to condo dues). And, "Why," you may be wondering, "would a renter care about such things?" The renter, not the landlord, pays the monthly fee (called va'ad bayit) to the committee. This fee is paid by the renter, in addition to the rent.

Taxes are also different in Israel. Rather than county property tax paid yearly, there is municipal tax (arnona) that is usually paid monthly but in some areas bimonthly or quarterly. Again, you may be wondering, "Why would a renter care?" And, again, I must tell you that this tax is paid by the renter, in addition to the rent. I was initially told that the arnona included trash and water, but later found out it only includes trash. Water is a separate bill, and of course, water is paid by the renter, in addition to the rent.

One consideration, in looking for a rental is trying to find a landlord who speaks English. I mean, really, what if your Hebrew is minimal and you need to explain that your toilet is overflowing and you need it fixed asap? The landlord's English language ability, or lack thereof, will not matter in this situation. What you need is a plumber who speaks English, because you, the renter, will be calling the plumber - and more importantly, paying the plumber yourself, in addition to the rent.

As you might imagine, looking for a rental while one is unemployed is a little tricky. Many landlords ask for a cosigner. Many people who make Aliyah have Israeli relatives who will do this for them, but some of us do not. I know several non-working olim who were not required to have a cosigner. One of them suggested that if the landlord started talking about a cosigner I should offer to pay a few months in advance. At my last meeting with a potential landlord, the Hebrew speaker who was helping me out, made just such an offer on my behalf. Then the landlord explained that he would already be requiring four months in advance WITH a cosigner, but if I could not get a cosigner he would need 12 months in advance. And that was just the beginning; he wanted a lot more, which I may write about in a future post.

And, as it happens, that landlord and his wife were divorcing but claimed they would still manage the rental together. That could be a little touchy, I thought; I might call one of them about an issue, but then get referred to the other, then get referred back to the first one, and so on - with neither of them agreeing to talk to me. Of course, there is probably no reason to call them anyway - certainly not for plumbing or other maintenance issues, since those would be my responsibility.... in addition to the rent.