Thursday, February 28, 2008
Lots of thinking to do. And it makes it hard to be productive. (And all my Chicago friends will be quite happy if we stay...)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Part of the benefit of this is that JR gets his much-needed protein 1st thing in the morning, then, to help hold him through until lunch time. (See this entry for details as to why he needs the protein in the mornings!) Also, I have indeed learned how to incorporate healthier ingredients into the waffles/pancakes without sacrificing the taste (and thus, the kids will still eat it).
Below I've included my pancake and waffle recipes, adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. And since I made waffles this morning, I took a few pictures of the waffles - which includes our new waffle iron/grill.
adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book
1 1/4 cup mixed flour (mixture is 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 white flour)
1/2 cup wheat germ (can usually be purchased in the cereal aisle)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup milk or soy milk
1/2 cup cooking oil (I still need to work on cutting this down - perhaps a mixture of applesauce and oil?)
Preheat your waffle iron.
Combine first 4 ingredients, mix well. Check eggs, and then lightly beat them. Add milk and oil. Pour liquid mixture into dry mix, mix until combined and most lumps are removed.
Follow waffle iron instructions for how much mixture to add and how long to cook them for. This recipe makes about 14 servings/squares for us.
Briefly, we bought this waffle iron/grill to replace several appliances we had. First, a smaller, cheap waffle iron that took eons to heat up. It was nice, though, because it cut the waffles into sticks, which the kids loved. But it only made two at a time, and took forever, which is hard when you're attempting to feed 3 kids and 2 adults. Also, we had a small George Foreman grill, which we used to make soy/black bean burgers and/or portobello mushroom sandwiches. Lastly, we had a sandwich maker, in which we made cheese sandwiches and quesadillas. We found the above grill at a reasonable price, and after reading the reviews (the worst of which was that the outside gets hot), we went ahead and bought it. Now I have to say that if you want beautiful, fluffy, crispy waffles, this is probably not the item you want. It makes pretty good waffles, but it is not a replacement for a gourmet waffle iron. That being said, they're yummy and they come out well. And it can still make a mean (if not "pre-cut" like our sandwich maker) sandwich and quesadilla. We haven't tried it yet for "grilling" items.
adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book
3/4 cup mixed flour (mixture is 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 white flour)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. each: salt, cinnamon
1 cup milk or soy milk
2 Tbs. oil
Optional: Blueberries (frozen, separated is fine) or Chocolate chips (minis are recommended!)
Preheat your griddle or frying pan.
Combine first 5 ingredients, through cinnamon, mix well. Check egg, and then beat lightly. Add milk and oil. Pour liquid mixture into dry mix, mix until combined and most lumps are removed.
Spray griddle. Pour, in about 1/4 cup amounts, mixture onto griddle. Add chocolate chips or blueberries immediately to pancake (if you're only using one or the other, you can mix them directly into the batter. If you're pleasing several palettes like I am, add to individual pancakes!). When little bubbles form, flip pancakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"Crazy!" you say, to which I would respond a resounding, "Most definitely!" But I find that the holiday is so difficult if I don't plan. First, there is the cleaning the preparation. I really like the sample Pesach calendar here - scroll down a bit, but the whole article is informative. Plus it's fun to try and see if I can come up with menus that taste, well, normal. Obviously, it's hard to not eat flour and grains, or corn. Plus, having to buy all new everything (hmmm...I should keep that in mind as I go shopping!) can get expensive, so I find that planning ahead makes a huge difference. Picking up a few things at each grocery trip (the non-perishables, that is) helps to spread out the cost and makes keeping to our budget much easier.
This year, Pesach begins on a Sat night, motzei Shabbat. This presents certain complications with the timing of getting rid of our chametz (leavened bread). Basically, Thurs night is when we do bedikatz chametz (checking for the chametz around the house) although we can technically eat it all of Friday and into the mid-morning on Saturday (contact your Local Orthodox Rabbi for details. Also, try this link).
In addition, Chol HaMoed falls out during the week - usually we have a Shabbat in the middle, and since we often eat by my in-laws for many of the meals, we don't usually have to cook a ton at home. That being said, this year we will. I'm attempting to save up my vacation time to take most, if not all, of Chol HaMoed off (B"H it works out!). Zoe's babysitter is out of town, so we won't have anyone to watch her during that time, and Claire and JR are also home, although the local JCC has some nice programs (expensive, but nice - we may still send them for a day or two, for their sanity and mine). Anyway, I'm expecting to be doing a LOT more cooking this year than normal, so I'm trying to get myself together.
In addition, I'd like to put together a real cookbook for Pesach. That is, I do have one already, where when I find or copy Pesach recipes, I add them here. But many of them are things we'll never eat - for instance, that yummy-sounding Passover Apple Cake. Yeah, sounds good, but with the 12 eggs, I just don't think I'm going to make it. Or all the kugels I have recipes for. Yup, they do sound good, but since we really don't eat kugels, it's unlikely I'll make them ever. So I want to realistically weed out recipes that I won't use, add new recipes, and perhaps even plan a menu (gasp!) for Chol HaMoed. Bizarre and ambitious, I know.
So, as all this swims around in my mind, I wanted to post links to all the recipes I posted last year for Pesach. Here you go:
All these recipes are tried and true, and pretty decent, if you ask me. I imagine I'll be posting more fleishig (well, chicken at least) recipes this year.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Her comments sums up much of what I would so, so I won't repeat them :-). I will add that I was absolutely exhausted at the end of this whole thing, and very, very grateful that we had "order pizza" for this Sunday night on our menu. We don't often order out, but this seemed like the night to do it!
Claire needs to build the Auditorium Theatre for her Chicago Fair project. Of course, she's not content to build just the outside when the inside is so fabulous. (I've already put DH to work on this one, not that I expect to get away with not working on it at all, but it seems only fair that he do some of this parental prodding...)
Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about the kinds of parents we are, and the kind of parents we want to be. Part of this is certainly prompted by the idea of moving – if we move, where are we moving to? What kind of day school options will we have for the kids? We love the school they are at now, we love that it is a Modern Orthodox Zionist day school, where Hebrew is taught in Hebrew (Ivrit b’Ivrit), and the kids spend about half the day in a Hebrew language environment – starting in 2nd grade, although it’s certainly taught earlier. We love that the girls are taught the same as the boys – and both are taught by their appropriate level – just because a child is a boy does NOT mean he’s up to learning Gemara (and just because a child is a girl does not mean she’s NOT!). The school is co-ed until 5th grade, at which point daavening (prayer) and l’mudei kodesh (Judaic studies) are separate gender – but once again, they are taught the same things based on their levels, just separately. Plus l’mudei chol (secular studies) are still taught co-educationally. All these things embrace the kind of education that DH and I feel our children should have, and they embrace our own hashgafa (philosophy).
So mulling over different possible moves, we end up talking about the kind of parents we are. I just realized a few things through this, some things that are probably obvious when you are outside of the situation/not a parent, but things that are nonetheless a little surprising when I think of them in our situation.
Our children have a nice home environment. We embrace to the best of our ability a variety of ideas that are important to us: We recycle as much as we are able, we rarely buy processed goods (much to my children’s dismay!) and when we do we try our best to select things that are organic, free of dyes and additives, etc. We discuss – in front of the kids – the importance of education, politics, etc. things that I hope will help them realize that it is important to participate in the secular world. We keep kosher, we are shomer Shabbat and Yom Tov (we keep the Jewish holidays), DH goes to shul on Shabbat and Yom Tov (I’m usually home with 1 or more of the kids, but I do go sometimes, too). We basically watch no TV – that is, we do periodically watch movies, and we let the kids watch, on their very limited TV schedule, PBS and any movies that we have for them at home.
So I took a moment to realize that we really are quite active parents. That being said, there was one thing that was obviously, blindingly missing when I was mulling over my list. We do not learn Torah at home. Not that we don’t learn Torah, per se, but the kids don’t see us doing it, we don’t actively do it with them, etc. And I realize that this is NOT a good thing, this is something that needs to be remedied, and soon. The bigger question is: How do you remedy this?
Anyone have any brilliant ideas? Perhaps for some this would be an easy answer - simply pull out a Chumash and learn. But not having been raised in this world, this idea is difficult for me to implement. (Now all of you saying that DH should then do it, well, come and meet DH and then we can discuss that option. While he MIGHT do it, it's unlikely he would do it on any kind of a regular basis, at least with the kids.) So, what can I do to model this behavior at home?
Friday, February 15, 2008
Plain rice (the kids' preference)
I know I should have taken pictures, but we ate it too quickly, lol. Recipes follow!
Preheat oven to 350.
Wash and dry asparagus, break off or cut off bottoms. Put asparagus in a pan in a single layer. Add a little olive oil (perhaps a Tbs) and some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to coat.
Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and cook another 5-10 minutes (depending on how crunchy you prefer your asparagus).
Serve with dinner if you can (we often just eat this as a snack, straight from the pan).
1 whole chicken, 2.5-3.5 lbs., cleaned
1 lemon, cut in 1/4s
5-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup margarine (or if you don't keep kosher, use butter)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 450.
Stuff the inside of the chicken with the lemon quarters, margarine and garlic cloves. Yes, stuff it in there and make it all fit. Mix the kosher salt and pepper, and rub onto the skin of the chicken.
Bake at 450 for about 1 hour or until juices run clear. 10 minutes into the cooking time, open the oven and move the chicken with a wooden spoon, to help prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Not at all to minimize this tragedy, I must, however, also point out that terrible things are happening all the time. In some ways, I wish I wouldn't listen to the news or read the paper. Just two days ago, I read this article in the Chicago Tribune. Once I move beyond feeling disbelief that anyone can do such a thing, I thought about what I can do to help. Initially, I feel like - what could I do? And in this kind of case, or in the case of the shooting on the NIU campus, there is nothing, literally, I can do to prevent such things.
However, that doesn't mean that there aren't things that I can't do. So I've been thinking about how I can help, what I care about, what skills I have - and what time I have - and how can I apply it to help, even one person.
My initial reaction, and something that I do hope to pursue eventually, is to become a foster parent. DH and I love being parents, we feel we are active, conscientious parents, and if we can provide a stable home for even one more child, that would be a wonderful thing. Yes, I know that fostering is difficult, challenging, and even emotionally draining, but I also feel like I'm up to the challenge. I may not ever be in a position to save someone like that 4 year old boy, but who knows? All that being said, I do not think we are ready yet to foster. We are unsettled, we don't know when or if we'll be moving or where we'll be living. It's just not the time, yet, to pursue this.
So I was thinking further, and I was reminded by a recent post from the Law School Widow who talked about a homeless man that she saw. I have often thought of the homeless in Chicago, and even before in Cambridge, MA. How did they become homeless? How can they stay safe? How scary it must be to be homeless. And then in November in San Diego, I was somewhat shocked to see the multitude of homeless sleeping near the train tracks and convention center where my conference was taking place. I wondered why all of Chicago's homeless don't move to San Diego, where it's around 70 degrees every day, even in the winter. (Sorry, San Diegoans, I'm not suggesting all the world's homeless converge on you, just wondering why they don't.) But really, it was seeing them there, so visible, that got me thinking about them again.
I'll admit, many homeless people scare me. Many of them seem to have...issues, perhaps mental problems, and I'm not at all equipped to deal with that, and so it frightens me. However, there are people out there who are just hard on their luck, or made some bad decisions, are find themselves without a home. It is these people that perhaps I can help.
I know that until we know where we are going to live, I'm not going to over-commit to something. However, I do think that this is something that I'd like to take on, to find out how I can help, within my means (Law School Widow, if you're reading, I meant to ask you if you have any ideas on this topic?).
So I will also challenge you, my readers, to find something that you care about, that can make a difference, no matter how small, and you do it. Yes, we're all busy beyond belief. Many of us our students and very, very poor, both monetarily and with our free time. But find the time, even 30 minutes a week, and find a way to make a difference. Even if it's doing things online, writing e-mails, making phone calls or stuffing envelopes, find something and make a difference. Please.
And then tell me about it. Tell me what you are going to do or what you are going to try and do. Share with us what little thing you've taken on to help make a difference, even a little one.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but I have also been hesitant. Mostly, I think, because I feel like it’s a bit of me tooting my own horn, so to speak. I am proud that we’ve been making more of an effort to “go green” where we can.
A huge first step for us was in cutting out the paper plates – for a while there we were using them all the time. And even with that, we still didn’t feel like we could keep up with the dishes and cleaning, etc. But since DH got his job, we decided that we had better come up with a workable (and flexible) schedule for cleaning. (Keep in mind that while we are fairly clean people, we are terrible with dealing with the clutter. We’ve been working on it, but still…) Here it is:
- Sundays: Do laundry, as much as possible (we’ve just switched to an eco-friendly and non-toxic detergent and dryer sheet)
- Mondays: Fold laundry. For those of you who live by yourselves or are only responsible for one or two people, this doesn’t seem like much. But for 5, more than half of that kids (who clean their rooms by dumping ANY clothes in the laudry!), this is a huge, huge task. Just sorting and folding socks takes hours upon hours. Okay, perhaps not, but at least 20 minutes.
- Tuesdays: Clean the bathrooms – this is not a scrub down of every surface, but just a light cleaning. Also, we do a “floor” rescue here, putting away toys, dustbusting as necessary, and having the elder two clean in their rooms for 10 minutes.
- Wednesdays: Menu plan for the entire week and shop. Sunday planners will be confused why we do this on Wed night, but when we planned on Sundays, we’d end up back at the store for the following Shabbat. By Wed night, we have a sense of what meals we’re having at home, what company, and therefore what we want to make. I also tend to do my Shabbat baking on Wed, along with any soup-making. Also, we clean out the fridge, throwing away anything that isn’t good anymore.
- Thursdays: Serious floor cleanup, including vaccuuming, all rooms. DH usually handles this while I’m cooking for Shabbat, although if I’m waiting on something in the oven I’ll go help.
- Fridays: Any last Shabbat preparations, setting things up, also mopping the kitchen floor (if possible, I do this Thurs night).
- Sat nights/Motzei Shabbat: General toy pickup in living and dining rooms (often this gets pushed off until Sunday)
- Everyday: Clean off dining room table, check & take out garbages, do dishes, pack lunches.
We’ve now been doing this for about 2.5 weeks, and while I feel like I’m cleaning a lot, it does seem to be working. I’ve been trying to find time for other little projects (like cleaning off the back porch, reorganizing our cleaning closet – and getting rid of all those toxic cleaner!, cleaning out our coat closet – perhaps it can be used for coats?, cleaning the inside of the microwave, etc). These certainly take the back burner when it comes to priority, but I’m trying.
The next biggest question for me is, do I do away with paper for Passover? I always feel a little guilty using as much paper as we do, but dealing with dishes was always annoying for the 8 days. I lean towards continuing it for now, at least until we’re settled in a more permanent location, but it still bothers me.
BTW, if anyone is interested in the cleaning supplies that I’m using, I’m so willing to tell you all about them – off the blog.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Yes, I'm disappointed. But no, I'm not surprised. Also, ND was perhaps the worst place on my list for us to move to. South Bend, IN is pretty small, and the Jewish community there is pretty right-wing/Black Hat, not really our hashgafa. Also, it probably would've been hard for DH to find a job anywhere nearby in his field. Still, out of all the places on my list, this would've been the best place for my career. Ah, well, c'est la via!