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Paging Nurse Latke.

14 Jan

It’s day four of quarantine.  I’ve had some nasty virus for four days and I am officially over it.  When I first started feeling yucky I thought I could pump myself full of Emergen-Cee and multi-vitamins and that that would do the trick.  Little did I know that this thing would get so fierce it would land me in the ER on shabbat so dehydrated that they gave me two bags of fluids.  The last time I felt remotely this crappy was when I went to Israel in 2008.  I landed in Tel Aviv, spent all day Friday with a dear friend and then she headed back to Chicago and I headed to Jerusalem only to be smacked in the face with what I have since self-diagnosed as dysentery.  I was rescued then by my very amazing friend, Jessie, who picked me up after a long day at Pardes and took me to Terem (Israel’s urgent care) where I was treated by a very brash and very ironically named nurse . . . Simcha Latke (Happy Latke).  I kid you not.  This nurse’s name was Simcha Latke and she could not have been more cold if she tried.  I will never forget her handing me a cup, looking at me up and down (the hot mess that I was) and saying, “You go. Make pee pee. Bring back. Now.”  Yes Nurse Latke.

This time around I was rescued by my dear friend, Dina, who spent an insanely boring four hours with me at the ER and then subsequently, the local Walgreens and let me just tell you, if you need to get sh*t done and you need it done now then you need Dina in your corner.  That woman doesn’t take crap from no one.  The nurse who initially took my temperature took it incorrectly and boy, you better believe the doctor in charge heard about it.  Then there was the hour long wait at Walgreen after being told it would only take 20 minutes.  Girlfriend was not having any of that either.  Seriously, she was/is my hero and I am totally in her debt.

IMG_5480

Probably discussing Eli Manning’s abysmal 2012-2013 season.

Now being a mommy and being sick means that I haven’t left the bedroom in four days (except for aforementioned ER visit) so as not to get any of these germs around the baby.  It also means that I haven’t been able to hug and kiss my sweet little girl and that my husband has been taking care of me and the baby all by himself and let me just say, he is a rock star. Seriously, this man deserves a medal of some kind; definitely a Purple Heart.  He also definitely deserves a vacation of some sort after I’m all better, which we can’t afford but something should be worked out.  Regardless, what I’m trying to say is I am blessed with a tremendously amazing husband and since we can’t afford for him to go on vacation, the next best thing in his eyes are fresh baked cookies, lots and lots of freshly baked cookies.  The man loves fresh baked cookies so much he actually told the cookie lady in the maternity ward our baby’s name before ANYONE else knew (and before the Simchat Bat) just to score an extra cookie. The cookie lady knew Siona’s name before her own grandparents did, that’s the kind of power fresh baked goods have over my husband.  Therefore, when I get better, there will be freshly baked cookies aplenty in this apartment.  One batch will be of what he has named Kitchen Sink Cookies because I just go ahead and put everything in there except the kitchen sink.  The base is from a Smitten Kitchen recipe and the rest is basically everything we like in a cookie packed into one bite.

Butter: The classic frenemy

Butter: The classic frenemy

That's a whole lotta goodness

That’s a whole lotta goodness

Kitchen Sink Cookies

What!?

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, softened
2/3 cup  light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1  cups rolled oats
1/4 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
Sea salt for topping

How’s That Now!?

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick. Either way, heat oven to 350°F  before you scoop the cookies, so that it’s fully heated when you’re ready to put them in.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top.  Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Sprinkle with sea salt while they are cooling

Wish I could eat them now

Wish I could eat them now

Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits on a Sunday Morning

23 Dec

It’s Sunday and I’m not going to work tomorrow.  Wait. Waaaait wait wait.  Before I even get into anything we have to take a moment of silence for the fact that my co-blogger, Jeremy, and I are both in the same state. Holler!  Every winter Jeremy and his family venture to Little Israel, otherwise known as South Florida, and spend two weeks lounging by the pool and seeing movies every night while the rest of the world is eating Chinese food and throwin’ bows (a.k.a. elbows) at the local mall.  I visited them last year on their vacay.  It was pretty awesome, except for the fact that I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and was fighting the need to puke at all cost as no one knew I was pregnant.  Fun times.  This year we have big plans of going to see Les Miz and crying in our popcorn buckets.  I can’t wait.

Jeremy and I in a scene from Les Miz. What? Ya'll didn't know we were in it? Weird.

Jeremy and I in a scene from Les Miz. What? Ya’ll didn’t know we were in it? Weird.

But anyway.  It’s finally ‘winter break’ and it’s actually been cold in Florida for the past 2 days. I mean we dipped down into the 60s here people.  I’m very excited to have a week and a half straight with the family.  We have some plans but mostly I hope we get to cook and sleep a little and enjoy this gorgeous weather together.

We kicked off winter break this morning with a visit from some dear friends of ours from our Israel days.  The hubby and I met in Israel over 4 years ago.  He was in Israel to get his Master’s degree in Marine Sciences from Hebrew University and I had decided to take a year to learn in an egalitarian yeshiva in Jerusalem called Pardes.  Pardes is one of those places where you either drink the kool-aid and ‘get it’ or you don’t drink the kool-aid and you run away fast.  I drank the kool-aid.   I love Pardes and will forever be grateful for what it gave me.  I was raised in the Reform movement in Marietta, GA and had a wonderful experience with the Judaism.  I participated in youth group activities and was really involved in my synagogue.  My Jewish identity was strong and even led me to take jobs within the Jewish community however my knowledge-base of anything Jewish was extremely limited.  I used to lead Birthright Israel trips and my participants would call me “super Jew” because it blew their minds that I got paid to go to Israel and I worked in the Jewish community yet I knew I was most certainly NOT a ‘super Jew’.  I didn’t keep kosher.  I definitely didn’t keep shabbat (not that either of those makes you a ‘super’ Jew) and I didn’t know much about laws and well, really anything.  I just knew I loved being Jewish.  By the time I made my decision to do a year of intensive Jewish learning I was 28 and fed up with not knowing the answers to a lot of the “Jewish” questions I was asked so off to Israel I went.

Pardes is a special place.  It’s the only co-ed, egalitarian (but with an Orthodox lens) yeshiva in Israel. People from all over the world come to Pardes to study in this environment.  The learning at Pardes is incredible—by the time I left my brain was able to look at things and think about things in ways I never could before. When you study Torah and you’re trying to decipher the meaning of a certain text, well, let’s just say now I get why are people are good at law.

Most everyone who was in the same ‘year’ program I was had relatively the same background that I have; loved being Jewish but was definitely searching for something more.  Due to my inability to get passed the 4th letter of the Hebrew alphabet on my entrance exam I was placed in the ‘newbie’ class and can I just say, thank goodness.  The people who also placed in this class were pretty amazing.  We were a motley crew who I think, if we tried really hard and combined our collective knowledge, could probably say the entire Hebrew alphabet and most of us were still eating cheeseburgers when we started our year at Pardes.  However, by the end of our year of learning, most of us were able to read directly from the Chumash, and were keeping kosher and shabbat.  My year at Pardes was one of the best years of my life.  I hope Pardes is still alive and thriving by the time our children are old enough to study.  It would truly be a dream come true if they could study there as well.

Some of our Pardes friends at our wedding.

Some of our Pardes friends at our wedding.

I launched into all of this because I’m still very close with a lot of the people I met at Pardes and two such friends, Ali and Noam, came over this morning for a lovely breakfast.  So many of my Pardes friends were at our wedding, which was so lovely.  And now,  three years after we left Pardes, our friends are meeting our daughter.  It’s pretty awesome.  To celebrate our friends’ morning visit, I decided to go big and make cheddar and scallion biscuits.  What else would you expect from a Southern Jewess when her friends stop y for a morning visit?

 

Flour

Flour

 

Pea-sized butter.  It's in there!

Pea-sized butter. It’s in there!

Scallion-flecked dough

Scallion-flecked dough

 

White Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits

What!?

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

How’s That Now?!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl.  Stir with flat spatula.  Add the butter and mix using a crust cutter until the butter is the size of peas. Slowly add the half-and-half and beat until just mixed. Add the scallions and the cheddar and mix until just combined.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and knead lightly into a rectangle 3/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter* and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are firm. Serve warm.

*If you don’t have a round cutter you can always use a glass.  That’s what I had to do and it worked perfectly.

Flattened dough

Flatted dough

Biscuit-y goodness

Biscuit-y goodness

 

Annnnnnnnnnd we’re back (we hope).

12 Oct

Well, it’s been a while, to say the least.  It would appear that our last blog post was almost a year ago.  Ugh.  So here’s what happened (at least with one of us.  I’ll let Jeremy explain himself 😉
So I got pregnant.  My husband and I had our first child in August and around the time of the last blog post is when I started the ever so ladylike first trimester symptom of nauseous and vomiting.  Yum, right?  It go so bad that I stopped eating cheese! CHEESE PEOPLE! I LOVE CHEESE! There was one week in the first trimester that I only ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Then there was that one time that my hubby made himself a veggie burger and the sheer smell of it made me, well, yeah. And then the second trimester hit and out went the nausea and in came the intense cravings.  There was that one time I wanted turkey and stuffing dinner so so badly that I ended up in tears because Boston Market isn’t kosher.  But now, almost a year later, in place of intense cravings and puking and rallying is the most beautiful baby in the world (no, seriously).  Ever since the little one was born, I’ve spent an insane amount on my iPhone, especially during the first several weeks of her life.  When a newborn wants to eat every 2 to 3 hours around the clock and it’s 3 am, you need to do something to keep yourself awake and for me, that was perusing apps like Pinterest and Punchfork.  And now that babe is finally on a bit of a schedule and the glory of nap time has entered my life (as well as the glory of an Ergo.  Oh sweet, sweet Ergo), I’m able to cook again.  Cooking is such a great creative outlet for me.  And I didn’t realize it until it wasn’t there anymore, but so was this blog.  And though my family is my whole world, a woman needs something for herself, well, at least this woman does.  so back to the blog we go.   This past Simchat Torah we hosted family and friends for lunch and it was wonderful having people around the table enjoying my food again.  Now, don’t get it twisted, the time to actually sit down and write is limited but I’m gonna try my best to get back to it (and Jeremy promises to do the same.  He told me so himself!)  We know there are a bajillion food blogs out there so we’re grateful you’re back reading ours.

Tiny One

Ok, so Simcaht Torah lunch was a dairy sensation.  We don’t usually go dairy on holidays but I spent the shabbat before reading the Southern Living my sister-in-law left after the family visited and my goodness, there was this recipe for caramel coffee cake that made my mouth water.  Now being Southern myself, I couldn’t believe it took me 32 years to actually read my first Southern Living and it was revelatory.  Sure, 85% of the recipes in it call for bacon but I find it only a challenge I wish to take on rather than a big stop sign.  And sure, 100% of the recipes in the magazine could clog your arteries just by looking at them but again, challenge to make healthier, not stop sign.  And Lord knows I need things to be healthier now that I gots some baby weight to lose. But I digress, let’s get back to the coffee cake.  Did I mention caramel sauce?  Also, did you know caramel sauce take 10 seconds to make?  Dangerous.  The men around the table asked for seconds so I’m gonna assume that the cake tasted good but, why don’t you give it a try and let me know 🙂

Crumbs

Mess

Cake Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla

Preparation:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apples; sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).
  2. 2. Meanwhile, prepare Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce for another use.
  3. 3. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
  4. 4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured shiny 9-inch springform pan; top with apples. Drizzle with 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce; sprinkle with Streusel Topping.
  5. 5. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. (A wooden pick will not come out clean.) Cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes; remove sides of pan. Cool completely on wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours). Drizzle with 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce.

Caramel Sauce

Bring 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup whipping cream (I used half & half), and 1/4 cup honey to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes before serving.

Streussel Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Stir together flour, pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt until blended. Let stand 30 minutes or until firm enough to crumble into small pieces.

 

Scones . . . it’s what’s for breakfast on shabbos mornin’ (and seuda shlishit)

11 Jul

Like I said, I’ve got some free time.  Therefore, I feel the pressure to step it up when it comes to shabbat cooking.  I have to confess, when it comes to shabbat dinner planning, I usually go big for dinner but as a result, lunch gets a bit, well, sad and seuda shlishit (third meal) turns into leftover challah and hummus.  But not this Shabbat. Oh no my friends, this Shabbat I showed up.  I made SCONES. But not just any dinner AND scones.  I made cherry scones with orange zest and organic whole wheat pastry flower and oats. I mean these were delicious. We were asked out to a seuda shlishit (third meal — it’s required on shabbat to have three meals.  You first is dinner, second is lunch and third is a little snack before post-shabbat dinner.  This idea is linked to a section of Torah that states “And Moshe said: Eat it (the Manna) today, for today is Shabbat to Gd; today you will not find it in the field.” The use of the word today three times in the sentence in reference to eating the manna is considered the background resource  for the Rabbinic rule requiring three meals on Shabbat), which we never get asked out to so I figured I should bring it and ‘it’ was scones.  yum. Now, the thing about scones, for those who aren’t as familiar, is that they are not super duper sweet.  You will be sorely disappointed if you’re expecting a sugary sweet breakfast treat.  You will not, however, be disappointed if you’re expecting a buttery, almost biscuit-like treat that tastes good either with jalapeno and white cheddar or with orange zest and cherries.

Orange and Oat Scones
(as adapted from 101Cookbooks.com)

WHAT?

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups rolled oats
zest of 1 orange
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup coarse turbinado or Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
2/3 cup dried cherries

How?!

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like sandy pearls. (If you are working by hand, cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter.) Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats and zest. Stir in the buttermilk and currants until just moistened.

Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing. After bringing the dough together, gently pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes (see photo) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet with some room between each scone. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minute or until the bottoms are deeply golden.

Makes 8 extra-large scones, or 12 to 16 larger ones.

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