Jan 222012


Last week, my small apartment turned into a synagogue.

At 7:00 a.m. every morning, twelve to eighteen men wrapped in white tallitot stood in the living room,  facing a narrow cupboard with a Torah scroll inside. They came in quickly and made almost no noise unless the service called for the reader to repeat prayers aloud. At Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer,  Husband’s voice rose over the others. For my mother-in-law, whose travail I have written about here before, had returned her soul to G-d at last. Our neighbors came morning and afternoon for Husband to say Kaddish for her during the shiva week.

Naturally, it was hard for Husband to swallow food in the beginning. But the first thing a Jewish mourner does upon returning from the burial is eat a small ritual meal. Round foods, traditionally lentils and hard-boiled eggs, to symbolize the circle of life, and bread. This meal should a gift from a neighbor or friend, reaffirming community ties. It’s a poignant meal, a step away from death, a step towards continuing life. My good friend Hannah Katsman of A Mother in Israel brought us this meal.

I cooked up a big pot of – what else? – chicken soup. I had told every one that offered that I would handle the week’s cooking – no need to bring anything. It was just Husband, the Little One, and me. Michelle of Baroness Tapuzina brought some nosh to have handy for visitors anyway. It did come in handy. Soon enough, I realized that I should have accepted the offers of meals that well-meaning neighbors pressed on me.

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Jun 142010

Photo of water bottle by JustinRyap, via Flickr

My good friend Hannah Katsman has written this useful guest post on stocking water for emergencies. Thank you, Hannah, it’s a post to print out and keep.

While the Israeli Homefront Command’s exercises are over and forgotten, there’s never a wrong time to prepare for emergencies.

The amount of your emergency water supply will depend on the emergency. If you have to evacuate your home, you might be able to carry only a liter (about a quart) or two per person. If you would need to stay at home or in a shelter, it is recommended to have four liters per day per person, for three days, for washing and drinking. That means you should have twelve liters available per person. The IDF Home Front Command recommends that all citizens keep this amount of water in the house at all times.

The water does not have to be purchased. Any clean plastic or glass containers can be used to store water safely. Keep in mind that in case of a long-term electricity outage, the water supply to homes would be affected as well because pumps use electricity.

Water set aside for emergencies needs to be changed every three months, with old water used for the garden, bath or washing machine. “Old” water can be made safe for drinking by boiling for ten minutes. If you can’t boil it, add 10 drops of household bleach (without fragrance) for every 4 liters of water and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pouring the water from one container to another can help rid the taste of bleach from the water.

A useful item for your emergency kit is a bottle of water purification tablets, for when clean water is unavailable.

Most Israelis have a large container of drinkable water in our homes, the “dood” or water heater. We can also store water as ice in our freezers. This helps the freezer run more efficiently, keeps it cold in case of electricity outage, and serves as an extra supply of emergency water. You can also keep bottles of water in your refrigerator, if you have extra room. If you lack both running water and electricity, avoid opening the freezer and save the ice water for last. That way you might be able to save the contents of your freezer until the electricity returns.

Hannah blogs at A Mother in Israel and has a new site called CookingManager.Com on cooking quick and healthy food.

Jun 052009

Sorting through my folks’ kitchen shelves before my Mom’s move, I discovered an old Jerusalem Post newspaper clipping. It was a recipe for pickle chips. I’d never considered making this, but it looked so easy that I had to try it. I did, and liked the pickles very much indeed. Now see if you like them.

The first few lines of the clipping had been cut off, so I can’t credit the author, but the date is Friday, June 30th, 1978.

Sweet & Tangy Pickle Chips

from the Jerusalem Post, author unkown


1 1/2 kg. – 3 lb.  fresh, firm cucumbers

4 large onions

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 heaping tsp. ground turmeric

6 whole cloves

4 allspice berries

2 sticks cinnamon

3 Tblsp. – 30 grams – mustard seeds

optional: 1 -3 dried chili peppers. I used 1 tiny shatach pepper and it was enough.


Use a large pot for this preparation. The vegetables take up a lot of room.

1. Rinse, but don’t peel the cucumbers. Slice them into thin circles; set aside.

2. Peel and slice the onions thinly. Set aside.

3. In a colander or sieve placed atop a large bowl (to catch the juices), put down alternate layers of cukes and onions, salting each layer generously before adding the next.

Drape a towel over the colander to keep insects off, and leave the vegetables alone for 3 – 4 hours.

When you’re ready to prepare the pickles, do this:

1. Put all the ingredients from the sugar on down into the large pot.

2. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then reduce the heat to medium.

3. Add the cukes and onions. Simmer them for 3 minutes.

4. Pour the hot mixture into a large jar – put a wooden spoon in it first, though, to prevent it shattering. Cover and allow to cool.

5. Refrigerate for 24 hours. The pickles will then be ready, although they improve with a few more days in the fridge.

The pickles will stay crunchy and good for a long time. Not that they’ll stay around a long time: if your family likes pickles, they’ll love these. If you plan to keep extras in the pantry, please follow safe canning procedure.

When  putting food up for emergencies, consider this recipe.

Jun 052009

Smart people tell you to always read the small print at the bottom of the page. So at the end of each recipe I consider valuable as emergency food, I’m adding this sentence:

When  putting food up for emergencies, consider this recipe.

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