Interview with a Startup Wife

I know this blog is very neglected, but I somehow found time to respond to Cooking Manager's fun interview questions. Check it out.

Posts are percolating in my head. I hope they come out soon.

No Food? No Problem

Last night, I had no fresh food to speak of in the house and no shabbat leftovers to tide me over till I was supposed to shop today (which, of course, I didn't get to).

It was 7:30 and I was hungry for dinner. Instead of ringing up my favorite sushi place, I dug through my freezer and fridge and came up with the following delicious concoction, which made enough to serve my husband and I and another serving tonight for dinner.

Manna From the Freezer
3 tbs oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp hawaj

1 half bag of frozen crock pot white beans
1/4 frozen ground dark meat turkey (turkey shwarma in Israel)
1/2 pan leftover roasted vegetables
3-4 tablespoons leftover sauce from crock pot short ribs 

Saute onion in the oil, add garlic after onion is translucent. Add spices and stir until they release their fragrance (Add enough oil to make almost a paste). Add meat and brown. Add the beans, vegetables and sauce and simmer for 20 min.

Serve with polenta, rice or couscous. (I made polenta and it was very yum).

What's that? You don't have all of these exact leftovers in your fridge and freezer? (and why would you, unless you have a spy camera in my kitchen and have been secretly preparing what I make for shabbat). No problem. I think the spices and onion make a great base for a Morrocan style chile. Add any type of ground beef, chicken or turkey. Add canned or cooked beans (I think chickpeas or any type of red or white bean would work fine. Try baked beans, if that's all you have). Any kind of fresh or frozen veg would also work, but you might want to saute them separately to keep them whole and give them a bit of color. Add chopped tomatoes or tomato paste, salt, pepper and maybe a bit of soup mix. Simmer for 30-40 min.

Anyway, I'm very proud of myself for making up such a frugal and yummy dinner from almost nothing.

Navajo Births Look Suspiciously Like Israeli Births

There's an article in today's NYT about the low C-section and high VBAC rate at a small Navajo hospital in Arizona. The article describes how:
Nurse-midwives at these hospitals deliver most of the babies born vaginally, with obstetricians available in case problems occur. Midwives staff the labor ward around the clock, a model of care thought to minimize Caesareans because midwives specialize in coaching women through labor and will often wait longer than obstetricians before recommending a Caesarean. They are also less likely to try to induce labor before a woman’s due date, something that increases the odds of a Caesarean.
This is an almost exact description of Israeli hospitals. Women don't bring their own doctors to the hospital to give birth, unless they pay privately. I did for my first birth, because everyone in my family and my husband's family was nervous and wanted trusted MD backup. It was nice to have her there, but all she really did was kind of speed things up a bit by doing a amniotomy and  adjusting my daughter's head while she was in the birth canal. Most of my labor was supported by my husband and birth coach and I don't think I would have managed as well as I did (no epidural and a smooth birth) without them. The nurse-midwives at Hadassah came to check up once and a while, but basically they left me alone, until the pushing, when I seem to recall a whole cheering section (one midwife held up and waved around the little stretchy I brought to bring my daughter home in as inspiration for the home stretch)

The article has a beautiful description of the effects of Navajo culture on childbirth and attitudes towards children in general:
Birth is a joyous affair here, and the entire family — from children to great-grandparents — often go to the delivery room.
“I’ve had 12 family members in the room,” said Michelle Cullison, a nurse-midwife. “I’ve frankly never seen a place like this. Whoever that woman wants to be there is there. It’s something I would take out to the community.”
What I found most amusing is the following quote from a doctor:
Can the rest of the country learn from Tuba City? Doctors say they are intrigued by the model but not sure how transferable it is.
Hello, we have a whole country that approaches birth the way this dusty little hospital does. And I don't think Israel is alone, most of Europe approaches birth this way as well. It's frustrating (and ironic) how provincial the US can be when it comes to healthcare, despite all of its technological advances.

Shabbat Shalom, Hey!

Shabbat mornings have become an increasing quandary for me. I know it would be good to take the kids to shul, especially the girls who are already 4 and 6. I have memories of going to shul with my father, playing with my friends, sitting on his lap for kriat hatorah. However, since we haven't really found a shul that we're all comfortable in, it's kind of hard to swing that. My husband goes to a local Israeli minyan, but the girls don't like going with him because they don't have friends there. The shul where they have friends is not really comfortable for my husband (too Anglo). So, occasionally I've taken them to the park near the Anglo shul where they have friends, so they can socialize and I can see some of my friends and then we meet up at home for kiddush and lunch. I've tried to take them into shul myself and it always ends in disaster. It's just too hard to manage the three of them myself.

Usually, I'm just lazy, and the girls happily play their elaborate pretend games in their room, which usually involves every costume and plastic food item we own, Eli gets cereal crumbs all over the house and I make it 3/4 of the way through my latest New Yorker. Very spiritual for all involved...

This week, I decided to make a change. I made everyone get dressed (the above homebound scenario occurs in pajamas).  We cleaned up the living room and we did tefillat yeladim at home. Avital, my oldest, was our chazanit. We used her old gan siddur. I had her lead from what she knew from gan and school and Tehilla and I followed along. Eli came with a bencher and answered amen where it was and wasn't appropriate. We went through the brachot and did a lot of hand motions. And then I added some Shabbat related tefilot. I taught them the first line of El Adon and we sang v'Shamru from Shemoneh Esreh. And then we did Birkat Hachodesh and davened really hard for a good month. We all really enjoyed it. I'm sorry we didn't start this sooner, but, better late then never.

And then, in fine tefillat yeladim tradition, we ended the session with a treat. Bittersweet chocolate, because that's all I had. It's no toffee, but, at least they've developed a taste for it.  

How do you handle shul and kids?

I Wanted to be Different, Just Like All the Other Different People

Mrs. S made a very insightful comment to me at the recent blogger meetup in Modiin. She said "You make so many great comments, why don't you just turn them into posts?" I am a pretty prolific commenter, I'm not sure why I don't turn them more into posts. That strategy would populate this blog a bit more.

I'm really glad I made it to the meeting, despite being appallingly late once again. It was great to see everyone and great to hear some blogging tips from the pro, Mom in Israel.


So, because I'm a friend or fan of a Morasha alumni group on Facebook, I got a notice about an alumni event they're planning soon, in the States. Obviously not relevant to me, but I started snooping around their site and discovered they have photo archives going back to the sixties. Since I went there from 85 to about 91 ( I skipped a year but went on their Sulam Israel trip, Gd knows why), I started trying to look up my old camp photos and look what I found:

What a hoot. Can you guess which one is me? Yes, the only one wearing a blue shirt. I wanted to be different, just like all the other different people... Why the heck couldn't I find a red shirt? And why am I wearing a skirt? I wasn't particularly frum back then, as far as I can remember. I definitely wore pants and shorts in general.

I love the commentary in this photo about Modern Orthodoxy. The majority of the girls are wearing pants, shorts and short sleeves.  I was 13 then, what a horrifically awkward age. Just leaving childhood, not quite a grownup. I wasn't a big fan of camp, but this age was particularly difficult. I was never good at dealing with cliques (to this day I can't seem to get the hang of it). Because of this I'm very sensitive to how my daughters deal with their friends and if I hear of any kind of insensitivity, on their part or their friends, I try to help them work through it. I also encourage them to be as inclusive as possible. Since I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from their friends' parents this seems to be working. 

(As an aside, I notice a lot of parents have a hands-off approach when it comes to their kids and friends. I really believe that kids need to learn how to be good friends and they need guidance from parents on how to be sensitive and inclusive. I think that children have some natural empathy and sensitivity but these feelings do need to be nurtured and supported). 

I look at photos like this and I feel like I've lived so many mini-lifetimes already- distinct time periods that I'll never be able to go back to but are still so sharp in my memory. I'm starting to have that feeling even in my own marriage- I'll never be able to go back to the first year of our marriage, my oldest will never be a baby anymore. Hard to believe.

Mollie Katzen Week

I've been cooking and baking a ton this week, mostly from Mollie Katzen recipes. She wrote the Moosewood Cookbook and a bunch of other really great vegetarian cookbooks. We aren't vegetarian in this house but I've always loved her fresh and interesting take on vegetables and cooking in general. I started cooking from her books in high school and I still use the same books to this day.

On Sunday, I made zucchini apple muffins from this recipe. They came out pretty good. They sliced nicely and made cute sandwiches spread with some cottage cheese.

Here they are just before we put them in the oven (the muffins, not the girls. :))

Today I made Mollie's Oatmeal Maple Bread. Thanks to Google books, you can see exactly what the recipe is and looks like in the book right below! Amazing. Search for "Oatmeal Maple Bread" if you can't see it immediately below. I used silan because I didn't have maple syrup and it came out fine. (So I guess it's technically "Oatmeal Silan Bread".)

I added chocolate chips, like I do to everything. This bread is actually really bready. I thought it would be kind of "banana bread"-like (meaning more like a cake) but it had an actual bread crumb and will probably toast nicely, with some jam. Here's how it came out below.

Finally, I also made some crockpot white beans with rosemary and tomatoes. Not from Mollie, but definitely Mollie-inspired. I used this recipe but changed a few things. I used 300 ml of crushed tomatoes instead of  the two tomatoes peeled and seeded. I skipped the onions and cloves since I didn't have any cloves and just used two chopped onions. I added a sheet of torn up nori (seaweed sheets for sushi). It doesn't taste fishy at all, just adds some depth and added protein. It needs  a lot of salt and pepper (I think my palette might be busted from using too much soup mix over the years though.) It took about 5 hours in the crock pot but made a really yummy and filling supper for a cold winter's night.

B'teavon to us all!

Paris Jaunt

So, a week and a half ago  M informed me that he had meetings in Switzerland and Paris Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Then he paused and said "You know, I've never been to Paris. Would it be ok if I spent an extra day wandering around?" (he's very careful about asking for extra time away from home. I've trained him well. :) ) So I said, "Well, I've never been either, what if I joined you for the weekend?" . And so began our spontaneous weekend in Paris (we like to keep our plans as spontaneous as possible).

We sprung into action. He called about available flights for me using his frequent flier points and asked his parents about taking the kids for Shabbat and I started calling up about an afternoon and overnight babysitter for Wednesday night. Since Shabbat comes in so early, it seemed a better idea to go Wednesday afternoon, to have to whole Thursday for sightseeing. My two trusty Savta babysitters came through. Katie was available in the afternoon and Mazal was available overnight (she's been bugging me to go away for an overnight vacation since she started with us after E was born 19 months ago so she was thrilled). My inlaws would come to Ranaana to pick up Thursday afternoon and bring the kids back to Jeruslaem for shabbat and even bring them back home Sat. night so they would be able to go to school on time Sunday morning. We would return 4 am Sunday morning.

Everything was falling into place until my friend said to me "It's so great you're not a Polish mother too worried to leave her kids". And of course, from that moment on, I was tied up with anxiety about leaving the kids. Well, mostly E, because I'd never left him overnight before. I started waffling, wondering if it wasn't such a good idea, how would he get back to sleep without us (he still wakes up once a night for a bottle. I know, really bad habit). My brother, father of six, assured me that no one would be scarred for life and to just do it. So, we did.

I was a complete wreck until I got onto the plane. I always had this fantasy orignally of going to the airport alone, enjoying reading a magazine by myself on the plane. I didn't enjoy any of it. It was actually really hard to separate.

And I used to be jealous of my husband that he got all these solitary plane rides to read quietly. No more. My knees and legs hurt from sitting so long and it was hard to concentrate with the numerous screaming babies around me ( of course I was completely sympathetic and really actually wanted to help them, but figured the babies would scream even more being held by a stranger).

Anyway, the weekend itself was wonderful. It was great spending time alone with my husband, away from all of our everyday life. The kids were fine, E got through the nights fine without us (he actually slept through instead of doing his wakeup/bottle routine).

On Thursday we spent 12 hours on our feet roaming around Paris. Thankfully, it was a sunny day, though cold. We hit the Arc d'Triomphe, Champs Elysees and then ended up at a nice kosher dairy place near the Louvre with a "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" theme (not kidding- literally there was a huge statue of one of the characters from that movie). Then we wandered around the Ile D'France with a lot of nice quaint streets and I bought a nice silk scarf from this scarf store. We saw the Notre Dame cathedral. Then we hit the Musee D'Orsay and it was so nice to just be in a museum again. I used to hang out at the Metropolitan and MoMA in NYC all the time in high school and it was nice to be back around art again.

We took the metro to a pretentious overpriced restaurant called Osmose. Not worth the money, but we only found out at the end. Oh well.

Originally we wanted to do the Eiffel Tower at night afterward to see the "City of Lights" thing, but I could barely drag my body to the Metro, so we bagged that till the morning.

Friday, I got a baguette from the local kosher bakery (for future reference, we stayed at a Best Western Aida Opera on rue Richer, on the same block as a kosher grocery, bakery, meat/dairy restaurants and shuls.) and some hard and soft cheeses and made sandwhiches for lunch. We ate them at a little cafe on the Eiffel Tower with some coffee and hot choc. we bought.

It was really freezing by Friday, no more sun. But they had a great exhibition about the history of the tower, how it was built and why. At lunch we flipped through our guidebook to figure out what to do next. We had a few hours till Shabbat, so we felt that we should do something else. Then we decided to just find a cafe and relax, which was the best idea.

Shabbat we tried to memorize some routes to Le Merais, which was in relative walking distance to us. But by then it was really raining and cold, so no more walking for us. 5 minutes before candlelighting I realized I had candles but no matches. I went down to ask at the front desk and they handed me a box of Shufersal matches!

We had both meals reserved at this great meat restaurant down the block, Les Ailes, which was a relief in terms of proximity and just getting out of the hotel on a rainy day. Expensive, but absolutely wonderful and excellent service ie: waiters and hosts who really want to serve you, not just deigning to do so. The food was Tunisian French, which meant about 10 salatim to start (including a crunchy fennel salad and delicious avocado and basil ), fish, a choice of veal chicken or couscous, sides, fruit, pastries, tea and coffee, wine, challah, and drinks. Really salatim to nuts (they served salted nuts and olives with the salatim). There were about 7 other couples there, so it was a nice cozy Shabbat atmosphere.

It was a fantastic trip and I feel very blessed and thankful that we were able to do that on such short notice.

(I will add pics as soon as I upload them).

Update: Promised pics: