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: