Cooked as a cucumber.

Last night Paul made a chicken stir fry for dinner. He used carrots, red and green peppers and cucumber.

Stir fry

Cucumber?

At first I couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought it may have been the zucchini I got in the last veggie order but those where yellow and this was green. Eventually Paul told me what it was.

And it was delicious!

I would never, ever have thought about cooking cucumber. To me its a salad veggie. Served sliced and cold. Or a snack with peanut butter to dip it in. Cooking it has never been a thought before.

But it was delicious!

So I Googled and I found a few recipes I want to try out.

Sauteed Cucumber

Baked Cucumber

Roast Cucumber

Do you have any recipes that involve cooking cucumbers? Please leave them in the comments below.

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The wheels on the bus…

A few people have asked me when or if we will be getting a car and if public transport is feasible in Israel.

We have been in Israel for just over a year now and other than two instances where we hired a car for a weekend, we have not driven at all. We would like to eventually buy a car, especially so we have transport for Saturdays/Shabbat when the public transport system is closed.

So far, relying on public transport has been pretty much okay. Having a well oiled (haha) public transport system is a huge help. Buses are plentiful and, mostly, run on time as do the trains. Its also quite a bit more cost effective than buying and maintaining a car. The downside of course is losing the convenience having a car gives you. Standing in rain that is coming in sideways while waiting for a bus is not fun. Taking children to friends and parties that are not within walking distance or on a bus route would also be a pleasure. But, I personally think at this point, not owning a car makes a lot more sense for us.

Recently, public transport was reformed to streamline costs of bulk (monthly) tickets and yesterday the pricing for public transport was dropped across the board by 17%. I now pay ₪299/month and this covers all my buses and trains between Modi’in and Tel Aviv. I worked out that on average I travel 1044km a month between home, work and ulpan. So if my calculations are correct (they very well might not be, I suck at math), then I am paying on average ₪0.28/km (R1.13/km).

According to Numbeo, the same distance traveled in a ‘Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)’ with an average cost of ₪6.38/l of petrol, would average ₪333 in gas or ₪0.32/km (R1.30/km). Already more expensive and that’s just petrol, never mind insurance, drivers licence, car license and general upkeep (and the cost of the actual car!).

So yup, for now I will continue to take public transport.

Gratuitous picture of my brothers dog when she was a puppy.

Gratuitous picture of my brothers dog when she was a puppy.

*For complete accuracy I would really have to take into account Paul’s transport costs too. He also travels by train and bus. But, we would only buy 1 car, so one of us would most probably still take public transport to and from work while the other would use the car. In which case I think my above calculations are reasonable.

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#ZombiePrompts Week 5

What are your top 5 pieces of clothing?

My jeans! I wear my jeans nearly every day, winter, summer, rain or shine. I have 2 pairs of Levis Curves ID.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m a pear, meaning I have a small waist and large butt/hips. Levis Curves are the answer to my prayers. I actually need to get a few new pairs, I need to figure out if they have them here in Israel or if I need to get someone to bring them back from SA for me.

Pick n Pay bandeau bras. They are so comfortable. Soft, stretchy, no under wire, no clasps, thin straps. I have a dozen of them in black, tan, regular straps and sports straps.

Boots/Havaianas. I usually wear the same pair of shoes until they literally fall apart. last summer I wore the same pair of beige Havaianas every day. So comfy and light. I will definitely need to buy a new pair this summer though. This winter I went to ToGo and got two pairs of boots from them (they had a buy 1 get 1 free offer). So far I have lived in the black pair although on occasion I have worn the brown pair. But ja, those are my go to shoes for winter or summer.

My pony tail holder elastic thingy. Yes, I know, not technically clothing but I cannot live without one. I like having my hair long. I hate having my hair in my face. I either put my hair in a pony, a messy bun or lately a plait. I keep a card with a dozen elastics on it in my handbag, just in case.

Only 4. I really cant think of a 5th item that I have to have or need or wear all the time. My main concern with clothing is if its comfortable. 

IMG_4166

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#ZombiePrompts Week 4

What do you lie about?

cricket

‘There’s no more chocolate!’ Hides in bedroom eating chocolate where the kids can’t find me

‘No, I didn’t buy another book.’ Although now that I’m using BookBub I’m only downloading free books, so this technically isn’t a lie anymore.

‘I did my homework.’ No, no I didn’t. I should have, but I didn’t.

 

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The French know what they are doing.

Part of my last organic veggie order from Maggie’s Garden was about 15 small brown onions. I immediately thought of making a French onion soup.

Part of what intrigued me about this soup is that it is traditionally served with a piece of toasted crusty bread with cheese melted on top. Ummmm, sourdough bread anyone?

image

Yiddisha French Onion Soup
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 2 tablespoons butter (margarine if you want it to be parve)
  3. 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  4. Salt & pepper to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon thyme (I used oregano since that's what I had)
  6. 1 bay leaf
  7. 1/2 cup dry sherry ( this is where the yiddisha comes in, I used sweet kiddish wine)
  8. 6 cups beef stock (a parve beef stock cube in boiling water if you keep kosher)
  9. Thick slices of crusty bread (hello sourdough!)
  10. Lots of sliced or grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (here in Israel I used sliced Emek cheese)
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the oil and butter and add the onions.
  2. Season with the salt, pepper and herbs and cook for about 15 minutes storing often.
  3. When the onions have caramalised, add the bay leaf and the sherry/kiddish wine and stir.
  4. Add the stock and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. In the mean time, heat the grill in your oven.
  6. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and top with slices of cheese.
  7. Place under the grill until the cheese is melted an bubbling.
  8. Dish up the soup into bowls and either float a slice of cheesy bread on top or serve the bread on the side.
Adapted from Rachael Ray via foodnetwork.com
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

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#ZombiePrompts Week 3

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?

Sheesh people. Really? I have no idea.

Let’s see…

I’ve managed to keep two small humans alive for the last 8 and 5 years. That’s pretty epic right?

I’ve moved to a new country and am learning a new language and navigating a new culture. 

I’ve been married to a man I love, who drives me nuts, makes me laugh, loves me fiercely, keeps me in line, drives me nuts (oh wait, I said that already), supports me and adores our children, for almost 10 years. I think that’s quit an achievement.

Image by Paul

I cook dinner from scratch at least 4/5 times a week. It may only be pasta with cheese sauce or even waffles (sometimes with choc chips in it), but its from scratch. The other days are either re-purposed left overs or hot dogs or pizza and/or corn schnitzel from the freezer.

This years new achievement will be learning to ride a bike! Maybe. Probably. I’m not making any promises.

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Left over roast chicken = chicken pie heaven

On Friday I roasted a chicken along with potatoes and sweet potatoes and by the end of the meal we had one breast, a leg and a few potatoes left over. Not enough for leftovers for four people the next day but enough to make a chicken pie which can feed 4-6 people depending on portion size and side dishes.

I put everything in the fridge and last night decided it was time for the pie.

The best part about this recipe is that as long as you have the chicken, you can pretty much add any veggies you like and it will taste delicious. I used up the leftover potatoes by chopping them into cubes and I also threw in half a can of corn. You could also add carrots, peas or any other tinned or frozen veggies you have in the cupboard or freezer or just use whatever leftover veggies you have in the fridge.

pie

Whenever I use the heart cutter to decorate food Faith tells me that the food was ‘made in love’.

Chicken Pie
Great way to use left over roast chicken.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chicken shredded (I used a breast and a leg of a roast chicken)
  2. 1 cup veggies (I used a few roast potatoes, roast sweet potatoes and half a cup of tinned corn)
  3. 1 cup water
  4. Garlic powder
  5. Herbs and spices to taste
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
  8. 2 tablespoons flour
  9. 1 sheet puff or shortcrust frozen pastry, thawed to roll
  10. Egg for brushing
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Place shredded chicken and veggies in a bowl and mix (I dumped them directly into the Pirex pie dish).
  3. In a pan add the garlic, salt, pepper and any spices or herbs you want to the water and bring to the boil.
  4. Melt the margarine and add the flour.
  5. Mix until it forms a gloopy ball.
  6. Once the water is boiling add the flour mixture and stir well to dissolve.
  7. Continue stirring until your sauce has thickened.
  8. Add your sauce to your chicken and veggies and mix to coat everything well.
  9. Roll out your pastry on a floured surface.
  10. Cut out the pastry to fit your pie dish and place gently on top of the chicken.
  11. Brush with beaten egg.
  12. You can add decorative pastry at this point and brush again with the egg.
  13. Poke a few holes or slits into the pastry to allow steam to escape.
  14. Place uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry has browned.
Notes
  1. You can substitute half the water for white wine.
  2. For a thinner sauce just add more liquid.
  3. Serve with rice or couscous.
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

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A lesson in patience

A few weeks ago Louisa posted that she was making sourdough. I hounded her relentlessly on Twitter about the process and she inspired me to try it myself.

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I knew it was going to take time, you have to create a starter (a mix of flour and water that creates a natural yeast) and that it would take at least a week for it to be ready. I didn’t realise that actually making the bread would take almost an entire day (PSA: read the recipe from start to finish before you begin), because the yeast is not instant it takes much longer for the dough to proof (rise) than normal bread.

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Starter

So, yup, not only did I learn how to make sourdough, I got a healthy lesson in patience.

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I have to say, the time it took was well worth it. My bread was delicious, especially with a big bowl of homemade chicken soup!

First up: How to make a starter

Sourdough Starter
A natural yeast made from flour and water
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Ingredients
  1. Flour (rye is suggested as the easiest flour to use, I used regular flour)
  2. Warm water
  3. Glass container with lid
Instructions
  1. Make sure your glass jar and any spoons you use are clean.
  2. Place half a cup flour and half a cup warm water in the glass jar.
  3. Mix gently and close the jar loosely.
  4. Leave for 24 hours.
  5. The next day, pour some of the mixture out and add another half cup flour and half cup water and mix (this is called feeding).
  6. Again, leave the mixture for 24 hours.
  7. The next day your mixture should have bubbles and should start increasing in size.
  8. Continue pouring off a bit and adding flour and water daily.
  9. Your starter should have a pleasant sour smell to it and should look like marshmallow fluff.
  10. It should take roughly a week for your starter to be ready to bake with although it can take longer.
  11. If your starter smells bad or turns green/blue, throw it out and start again.
Notes
  1. I forgot to feed my starter for a few days here and there, the only down side to this is that it took two weeks for it to be ready to use.
  2. Instead of throwing away the starter that you pour off you can pour it into a 2nd (or 3rd) jar and create another starter.
Adapted from Tips for making a starter
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/
Now for the bread recipe.

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Crispy crust, yummy bread

I wanted something really simple to start with and I found a recipe on BBCGoodFood that looked like it fit the bill. I think my recipe still needs some tweaking but it was delish!

Easy Sourdough Bread
Yields 1
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Total Time
9 hr 40 min
Total Time
9 hr 40 min
Ingredients
  1. 300g sourdough starter
  2. 500g flour of your choice, I used plain white flour
  3. 225ml warm water
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon honey (I left this out)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except the salt into a bowl.
  2. Mix with your hands until the dough starts to come together.
  3. Add the salt and continue mixing/kneading the dough.
  4. Add a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky or a bit of water if the dough is too dry.
  5. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap and a towel, leave in a warm place to rise for about 3 hours or until doubled in size.
  7. Remove from the bowl and knead gently to remove air bubbles.
  8. Gently flour the dough and place it seam side up in a medium sized bowl or proofing bowl to keep it shape.
  9. Cover in cling wrap and a towel again and leave in a warm space to rise for about 6 hours.
  10. Heat your oven to 200C and place a baking tray inside to warm up.
  11. Place a pan with water at the bottom to create steam, this helps form a crispy crust.
  12. Once the tray is heated, lightly dust the tray with flour and gently tip your bread onto the tray.
  13. You can cut lines into the top of the dough at this point.
  14. Bake for 40 minutes.
  15. You can open the oven door 5 - 10 minutes before its done to let the steam escape, prop the door open with a wooden spoon (I forgot this step and my crust burned a bit).
Adapted from BBCGoodFood
Adapted from BBCGoodFood
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/
All photos by Paul

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I’m a student again

Well, 2 nights a week at least.

Last night was my first ulpan lesson. It went pretty well even though the class actually started on 1 December 2015 and I have a little bit of catching up to do.

I was 1 of 3 new people in the class and my level of Hebrew seems to be about average compared to everyone else.

On Sunday I will officially register and receive my workbook.

The class is made up of Russian, French, British, American and South African (2 of us) students. They range in age from early 20’s to to 2 ladies who have grand kids.

My teacher speaks English, Hebrew, Russian and a smattering of French. 

I’m hoping by the end of the next 10 months I will be able to hold a conversation with my Hebrew speaking colleagues.

But for now, baby steps.

hebrewletters new

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#ZombiePrompts Week 2

What DIY projects are on your spring to-do list?

Well, we have been in Israel for just over a year. We are renting our apartment but our landlords are pretty darn amazing and are happy for us to make our apartment our home (within reason).

One of the things I really, really want to do is put up our pictures. In SA we had a gorgeous red family photo wall in our dining room and I really miss seeing all those pictures.

Yes, I know, we have been living in our apartment for a year! Yes, I know, our things arrived 9 months ago! And we still haven’t put any pictures up on the walls (I’m looking at you Paul!)

So my big DIY project is to get those pictures up. Our home has come a long way since we moved in. Here it is right at the beginning. And here it is the day our lift arrived.

And here is what it looks like now. At least the lounge. I want to fill that big blank wall with the family pictures. 

   

Looking forward to showing you more when the pictures are up on the walls.

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