Leavin' on a Jet Plane

We are planning a family trip to Greece in a week and a half. Though this choice of destination is not as frugal or cheap as the ones mentioned in this post at Mother in Israel, it's not as extravagent as it sounds. We are using my husband's frequent flier miles (the ones mentioned in my first post) and we are renting a house I found on this site .

What about food, you ask? (which of course is always my number 1 concern!). I'll be bringing a pot and a pan to make eggs, pasta, rice, etc and I also ordered some chicken and turkey dishes from Chabad of Athens which actually has a kosher catering service.

So how did I come up with Greece? We were orginally planning on going to the States with M's miles. However, we didn't get around to calling up about tickets till the middle of June, which is way too late to book for the summer ( I had a bad feeling about that). I was very disappointed because not only did I want to get to the States to see my Zayde, whom I haven't seen in 3 years, but I just wanted to get on a plane and get out of the country for awhile (it has been 3 years since I've seen an airport).

After being depressed for awhile, I remembered we had neighbors back in Jerusalem who went to Greece for a week in the summer, and I thought, why not, we have the miles? So I started digging around about hotels, rentals etc. I found the vacation home rental site and thus started my mad rush to plan a vacation. I discovered that June is pretty much very late to plan anything for following two months. People book these homes a year in advance!

It became an obsession for a few days and required a lot of coordination between the flight and the availability of different houses. (There is a reason that travel agencies are still in business) But I finally came up with a match and we're leaving in a week and a half!

We are staying on the island of Zakynthos, which is one of the Ionian Islands on the western side of Greece. We are flying to Athens, which takes about one and half hours, renting a car and then driving over the Peloponnesus (like the Peloponnesian War! Remember that from high school history class?) and taking a ferry to the island. The drive and the ferry should take about 5 hours, but I'm sure we'll stop on the way.

We don't have a lot planned yet, but there will be a lot of beach and pool time on the schedule. And I'm hoping to see the sea turtles! A friend who is a professor of Jewish history informed me that there is actually an old shul and Jewish cemetary on the island and that there was a functioning Jewish community on the island until the 1950's. You can read more about that here.

Wish us luck!

Swiss Chard Pie

I made this on Shavuot and it was a big hit at my inlaws.

Swiss Chard Pie

1 bunch Swiss Chard (alei mangold in Hebrew)
1 basket of mushrooms, dark, light, whatever you like, sliced
1 leek, sliced thinly
1 red onion, diced
1.5 containers of 5% cottage cheese
1 handful shredded cheese
2 tablespoons bread crumbs/matzo meal
2 eggs

For crust:
2 medium eggplants or
1 eggplant/1 zuchinni

To prepare crust: Slice vegetables longitudanally quite thin, but not paper thin. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil or roast them in a very hot oven until browned. Let cool in the pan and remove carefully. Line the pie/tart pan with the vegetables. I like to let a little hang over the sides and fold over the pie after it's filled.

Wash the chard in a few changes of water. It's quite sandy. Remove hard ribs and chop finely. Chop the rest roughly, set aside. In a hot pot or large wok, cook chopped chard ribs, onion, and leek until transluscent. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. After mushrooms have cooked down, add the chard and cover until the chard has wilted.

Remove from the heat and let cool a few minutes. In a large bowl mix together vegetables and the rest of the ingredients. Feel free to add herbs you might like- thyme, basil or marjoram would be great. Pour on top of your veggie "crust". Sprinkle with a bit more cheese.

Bake at 180 C/ 350 F for about 40 minutes, until brown.

Delicious hot, warm, room temprature or cold.

The Scary Private Years

“But I often long to talk to Ellen, with whom, after all, I have done a million things in these scary, private years. We drove the kids up every damn rock in Central Park. On Easter Sunday, we pasted white doves on blue posters and prayed on Eighth Street for peace. Then we were tired and screamed at the kids. The boys were babies. For a joke we stapled their snowsuits to our skirts and in a rage of slavery every Saturday for weeks we marched across the bridges that connect Manhattan to the world. We shared apartments, jobs, and stuck-up studs. And then, two weeks before last Christmas, we were dying.”

This is a quote from the short story "Living" by one of my favorite authors, Grace Paley, z"l. It's not my absolute favorite quote of hers, but it's one of the few I found on the web, saving me the trouble of typing another one in. But I do happen to love this one for the way it encapsulates the experience of mothering young children and being a younger mother, particularly the way she describes these years as "scary, private years". So much of child-rearing and being a young (and youngish mother) is indeed "scary" and "private", which is probably why mommy blogs and Mommy and me groups are so popular.

I also love her mention of snowsuits, which reminds of a great red one that I had when I was four. Now that we live in Israel, no need for kiddie snowsuits. :(

(The image is from another favorite piece of literature of mine, The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats).

I also love her honesty. I think it's rare to find a mother who's never screamed at her kids because she's tired. But it's also hard to find a mom who doesn't who doesn't pray for a more peaceful world for her children. I think it's important to acknowledge that the contradictory emotions of motherhood (and childhood, for that matter) don't negate each other.

No More Mooching

Well, I'm about 4 years late to the blog party, but, since I came up with a cool title, I thought it was time to fire up a blog of my own.

No more mooching off of other people's blogs!

I'm not sure how confessional this blog will really be, despite the provocative name, since my husband actually abhors confessionals of any nature and is naturally very secretive (and since our lives are inextricably entwined, that would affect my writing). So I will try to be as respectful of that as possible.

3 years ago, my husband, M, and his army buddies decided to open a startup, similar to the Little Rascals gang saying "Hey Gang, let's put on a show!". It was a bit more serious than that, but not much. After much brainstorming, vc fundrasing, allnighters and collecting of frequent flier miles they are finally on their way to what looks to be a functioning business.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been kid wrangling our three children and working part time at another startup at home (not sure I'm ready to disclose that yet, maybe later). It's been a roller coaster ride of tremendous satisfaction in raising our family and watching this business grow from a tiny germ of an idea to a full fledged global production. It's also been a tremendous source of exhaustion and emotional meltdowns. So I think this blog might be useful in sorting some of the latter out.

And, I'm dying to share recipes as well!

Like this one I came up with yesterday:

Chicken Fingers

4 skinless chicken breasts, sliced lenthwise in 3-4 pieces
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 solet (semolina flour) (purchased thanks to this post)
3-4 shakes granulated garlic (garlic powder, shum migubash in hebrew)
3-4 shakes sweet paprika (can add some hot paprika if you like a kick)
Salt and pepper
1 egg
1 Tbs olive oil
Olive oil/canola spray

Mix ingredients 2-5 in a plate or large bowl. Mix egg and oil. Spray a large pan with oil spray or wipe with a thin layer of oil. Dip chicken fingers in egg/oil and then crumbs. Put in pan, spray lightly with a little more oil (helps crisp the chicken since they are going into the oven). Bake at 180 C/ 350 F for 25 minutes.

Serve with sweet chili sauce, sweet and sour sauce, duck sauce, ketchup, whatever strikes your fancy.

I liked the texture of the chicken slices rather the flattened schnitzel they sell in the market.

Shabbat Shalom!