Salutations

One of the things I love about Israel and the Hebrew language is that there is a greeting for everything and everyone greets everyone (well mostly, remember the grumpy old men?)

There are regular, every day greetings, good morning (בוקר טוב – boker tov) and evening (ערב טוב – erev tov).

There are greetings for the beginning and end of the week, good week (שבוע טוב – shavua tov) said from the moment shabbat has ended to the end of Sunday and  shabbat shalom (שבת שלום) said anytime from Thursday through to the end of Saturday night.

Then there are greetings for High Holy days, usually happy holiday (חג שמח – chag same’ach) or the yiddish, gut yontiv (גוט יום־טובֿ – good yom tov). 

My favourite though, is an alternative to good morning. It is usually said as a response to someone who says good morning (boker tov) to you.

The greeting is בוקר אור (boker or) and literally translates to ‘morning light’.

It really does lighten up my day!

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Party!

Last week was Aaron’s birthday party at our house. It was hectic and loud and fun!

Here it is by the numbers:

  • 10 children
  • 7 packets of microwave popcorn
  • 6 (possibly more) litres of juice
  • 3 hours of party time
  • 3 bags of Bisli
  • 2 packets of marshmallows
  • 1 packet of suckers
  • 1 movie (Tintin)
  • 1 melktert
  • 1 very happy birthday boy

aaron

I cannot get over that my first born is 9. He is almost as tall as I am, wears a size bigger shoe than me and we wear the same size jeans!

Where has the time gone?

I lost it. Again.

My bus pass (Rav Kav).

This makes it the 3rd time in almost 2 years that I have lost my Rav Kav.

The 1st time, I had to get a new card.

The 2nd time, the driver had actually handed it in to the office so I didn’t need to get a new one.

This time, the card had not been handed in (at least not at my nearest office) so I had to buy another one. 

That makes 3 brand new cards in 2 years!

At the rate I am going I think they should offer me a ‘buy 5 get 1 free deal’.

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Can we talk about the weather?

Particularly about the fact that the seasons change. From summer to autumn to winter.

Every single year.

Every single year of my 37 years, the seasons have changed. Every year before that.

They follow the same cycle. Hot to warm to mild to cool to cold.

And every single year I manage to wear the wrong clothes when the season is changing.

Even though I know the weather has changed. Its been getting progressively cooler for weeks now. It rained, which means the average temperature definitely drops the days after. 

So, can someone please tell me why, knowing that the weather is colder, knowing that it will probably rain, I still insist on wearing thin summer shirts and my slip slops?

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Sukkot

*** Right, so, I actually completed this post about a week and a half ago, thought I published it, and found it now in my drafts… So, ja, enjoy 🙂

The last few weeks has been a whirlwind of Jewish Holy Days, starting with Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year and ending with Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles (booths).

Sukkot is my favourite festival. The celebration has a double meaning, the first being the end of the harvest season and the second commemorating the years that Jewish people wandered in the desert after leaving Egypt. 

One of the things I love about Sukkot is that it is a happy festival. There is no sadness to be found here. Only celebration.

We build temporary booths called sukkot (plural) and a sukkah (singular). There are a few requirements that need to be stuck to in order to make them kosher, they must have at least 3 walls, the walls can be fancy or plain, printed material or planks of wood. The skach or roof covering must be made of untreated, unvarnished natural material and you should be able to see the stars through it at night and it must be a temporary roof, not something that is there year round. Quite a few people use palm fronds either for the whole roof or as additional roofing along with a bamboo mat.

Once you have your sukkah up you can either leave it plain or you can decorate it. We chose to decorate ours this year with crepe paper pom poms (home made) and some crepe paper garlands (shop bought) as well as a few drawings from school that were holiday themed as well as some strings of plastic fruits.

One should eat all their meals as well as snack in the sukkah and some people even sleep in the sukkah (weather permitting).

I love sitting out in the sukkah in the early morning air with my cup of coffee and my book. Its just not the same when there is no sukkah up. I also love hosting people in my sukkah and having big, noisy meals with friends and family!

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Questions for kids

A friend posted these questions on FB and I grabbed them for my kids. 

Starting with Faith

  • What is your name? Faith
  • How old are you? 5 and a half
  • When is your Birthday? December
  • What is your favorite colour? I don’t know. Blue or pink
  • What is your favorite food? Sausages and chocolate ice cream and Choco (chocolate milk drink)
  • Who is your best friend? I don’t know I have a lot of friends. Noa. 
  • What is your favorite song? Something on a minecraft video and Let It Go
  • What is your favorite animal? Lions
  • What are you scared of? I don’t want to tell (whispers snakes and spiders)
  • What makes you happy? My taggies and stuffed doggy
  • Where is your favorite place to go? To the Gymboree 
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t know. I want to do everything 
  • What does love mean? That you love people. 


And now for Aaron

  • What is your name? Aaron. Jacobson. 
  • How old are you? Do I say 8 and a half or 9? Ok 8 and a half. 
  • When is your Birthday? 5 November
  • What is your favorite colour? Red
  • What is your favorite food? Pizza!
  • Who is your best friend? Noam
  • What is your favorite song? I don’t know what it’s called. It’s a Minecraft song. I think it’s called I’ll Make A Cake. 
  • What is your favorite animal? Hamster
  • What are you scared of? The internet dropping 
  • What makes you happy? That I see Noam all the time
  • Where is your favorite place to go? Uncle Matthews house
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s very hard. Oh easy! Youtuber!
  • What does love mean? For me? I dunno. Nothing. 

Dairy Free Peppermint Tart

As you all probably know, we keep a kosher home. That means that if we have a meat meal, the dessert needs to be dairy free.

This Rosh Hashanah, my brother hosted the meal, which was a feast of amazing chicken, deli roll, veggies and more, and I was making the desserts.

I really really wanted to make a Peppermint Crisp Tart (click on the link for the original recipe) but it needed to be parve/dairy free.

Fresh mint in closeup

My one issue was finding a solid slab of dairy free peppermint chocolate. Not so easy apparently. You can get After Eights but the peppermint part is soft and I didnt think that would work. I found an artisan, bean to bar, locally made chocolate but I could not get the peppermint one for love nor money. Eventually I gave in and bought plain dairy free chocolate and then found a peppermint extract to add to the cream. 

Another concern was what to swap the dulche de leche for. It had to be sweet but diary free and I came up with using Biscoff Lotus spread. I’m not sure this is available in SA but Im sure you can find some type of dairy free alternative.

All in all the dessert was a hit, everyone loved it and it was as close to a regular peppermint crisp tart as one could hope for.

Here is the recipe.

Dairy Free Peppermint Tart
A dairy free take on my traditional Peppermint Crisp Tart
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tub dairy free cream such as Rich's
  2. 1 jar Biscoff Lotus spread (or any dairy free sweet spread)
  3. 1 packet of plain biscuits
  4. 1 large slab of dairy free chocolate, broken or crumbled into small pieces
  5. A few drops of peppermint extract
Instructions
  1. Place the cream and a few drops of peppermint extract in a bowl.
  2. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  3. Place a single layer of biscuits on the bottom of a large square/rectangular dish.
  4. Microwave the Lotus spread for a few seconds for easy pouring.
  5. Cover the biscuits with a layer of Lotus spread.
  6. Sprinkle half the crumbled chocolate over the Lotus layer.
  7. Add a thin layer of whipped cream.
  8. Add another layer of biscuits.
  9. Add another layer of Lotus spread.
  10. Cover with a thick layer of whipped cream.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the top of the cream.
  12. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Notes
  1. I used a dairy free bitter chocolate, if you really want it to taste like Peppermint Crisp then look for a dairy free 'milk' chocolate or non bitter chocolate. Personally I liked the bitter contrast to the sweet Lotus spread and the minty cream.
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

Me me meme

So I’ve seen this floating around Facebook recently and since I havent posted anything this week, I figured why not…

  • Are you named after someone? Yes, I am named after my dad’s late sister, Natalie. My actual name is Gina-Natalie.
  • When was the last time you cried? I actually cant remember the last time I had a real snot en trane (snot and tears) cry. I do tear up at least once a day because of something I’ve read online or because something reminds me of someone I’ve lost, but no real tears.
  • Do you like your handwriting? Sometimes. If I’m not rushed.
  • What is your favorite lunch meat? Thin sliced turkey breast.
  • Do you have any kids? Aaron and Faith 🙂

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  • Do you use sarcasm? Me? Use sarcasm? Never!
  • Do you still have your tonsils? Nope.
  • Would you bungee jump? Hell no!
  • What is your favorite cereal? I don’t really eat breakfast and never cereal. It gets soggy and that’s just yuck.
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No.
  • What is your favorite ice cream? Plain ol’ vanilla.
  • What is the first thing you notice about people? Their smile and if its genuine or not.
  • Red or pink? Red.
  • What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? I am not patient enough with my kids.
  • What was the last thing you ate? Mac & cheese for dinner last night.
  • What are you listening to right now? The sound of the aircon in my office.
  • If you were a crayon what color would you be? Something in the blue range.
  • Favorite smell? The first rain of the season.
  • Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? The mom of one of Faith’s friends.
  • Hair color? Really? I have no idea. Reddish, brown with blondish tips??
  • Eye color? Green.
  • Do you wear contacts? No.
  • Favorite food? Sushi.
  • Last movie you watched? Captain America: Civil War.
  • What color shirt are you wearing? Black with a white lace pocket.
  • Summer or winter? Neither, I prefer Autumn and Spring. But if I HAD to choose it would be summer. I hate being cold!
  • Hugs or kisses? Depends who’s giving them.
  • What is on your phone lock screen? A picture of my family taken a year ago at Rosh Hashanah.

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  • What did you watch on T.V. last night? Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5 Episode 18 to be precise.
  • Favorite sound? Gentle rain on a tin roof.
  • Rolling Stones or Beatles? Stones!
  • What is the farthest you have traveled? Between South Africa and Israel.
  • Do you have a special talent? Not letting the stupid drive me crazy?
  • Where were you born? Johannesburg, South Africa.

Just call me Jamie

A while back I got a bee in my bonnet to haul out my pasta machine and make home made pasta.

What possessed me to start the process at 6pm for dinner that night will forever be unknown.

Making pasta from scratch should never be rushed. 

Actually making the dough, is a process that can take up to half an hour. You really need to give the kneading process time. The longer you work the dough the smoother and more elastic it is. You also need to let the dough rest before rolling it.

Then, since the machine is small, you need to actually make your pasta in small batches. Rolling the pasta takes time, you need to roll the dough through each setting a few times to ensure its even. Rolling the entire ball of dough can take over an hour.

But, its worth it, Fresh pasta is delicious!

So before I give you the recipe, here are a few tips from me to you.

  1. Plan ahead. Set aside a morning or afternoon where you have at least 2-3 hours uninterrupted time. I suggest an afternoon because of tip #3 below.
  2. Don’t make pasta alone. Rope in the kids to help. Mine had a blast helping me roll out the pasta and choose which type of pasta to cut. Alternatively invite some friends around and make a day of it. Make the pasta, make the sauces from scratch, maybe even make a batch of artisan bread to go with your fresh pasta.
  3. If you go the friend route (or even the kids route), open a bottle of wine and enjoy a sip or two between rolling batches.
  4. Take a break. The kneading and then the rolling takes work. Your shoulders will get sore. This is also why you need time. Sit between batches. Maybe stop rolling the dough for a while and make one of the sauces.
  5. Take the time to let your pasta dry a bit before cooking. You can cook it right away, but I find letting it dry for at least 20 minutes helps the pasta maintain its shape when cooking.

pasta
Bonus tip! If you don’t have a pasta drying rack, you can use a folding clothes drying stand. Just make sure the rack is clean before you start hanging your pasta to dry!

Pasta Dough
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Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
2 hr 5 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
2 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups pasta flour (you can use '00' fine flour or regular flour if you want, I bought a bag of flour that said pasta flour on it and it was delish)
  2. 6 large eggs
  3. A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl or on a large, clean surface, place your flour and sprinkle the salt into it.
  2. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Crack your eggs into the well.
  4. With your hands, start bringing the flour into the eggs in the centre.
  5. Keep working the flour into the eggs from the outside in.
  6. Once the flour and eggs have become a rough ball, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and start kneading.
  7. Keep kneading the dough, adding a little bit of flour if it is too sticky until the ball starts to become smooth.
  8. You will know the dough is ready when the ball is smooth and silky and stretchy.
  9. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in a cool place (or in your fridge) for about 20 minutes to rest.
  10. When you are ready to start rolling, remove a small ball of dough to work with and cover the remaining dough well before setting it aside.
  11. Follow the instructions on your machine to achieve the desired thickness and type of pasta.
  12. Once your pasta is cut, hang it immediately so it doesn't clump. You could also lay it flat on a floured tea towel.
  13. Let the pasta dry for at least 20 minutes before boiling in salted water for about 5 minutes.
Notes
  1. I had about a 3rd of the dough left and didn't feel like rolling it. I left it tightly wrapped in plastic in the fridge and rolled it out the next day and it was still easy to work with and delicious. I'm not sure leaving it for more than one day will work but if you don't have time to roll it all in one day you can definitely leave it overnight and have 2 days of fresh pasta out of one batch.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

We eat the food, then we do the things.

One of the things we decided when we made aliyah was that we were going to try live as Israelis as much as possible. In particular food. We decided to buy and eat Israeli products as much as we could. 

One, buying imported things is expensive. 

Two, support the local economy.

Three, the kids are growing up Israeli, they need to be comfortable eating foods we may not have eaten in South Africa.

All of this is not to say we don’t eat the same foods we used to eat in South Africa. I’m yet to see cottage pie on a restaurant menu but we often have it for dinner. 

Israelis also tend to eat larger, heavier meals at lunch and smaller, lighter meals at dinner time. We still eat a proper cooked meal for dinner, mostly, this summer we have tried eating lighter, smaller meals at night.

All this brings me to things that we don’t/cant buy here (there is one big store that imports food stuffs from SA and Australia and the UK, but it is hellishly expensive). Things that I miss. Things that I have asked people to bring me and that I hoard and cherish like a certain gold ring.

  • Anita mentioned on Facebook, samp, which I haven’t had in years and now have a hectic craving for. 
  • Along with samp, is a good stiff pap with tomato gravy. You can buy polenta here but its just not the same.
  • Boerewors. I’ve had locally prepared boeries but its just not the same. The meat here is very different to SA and you can tell.
  • Peppermint Crisp. Anybody who visits has to bring me at least 1 slab. 
  • Five Roses Tea. Israeli black tea is rather weak. At least that’s my opinion. I love a good cup of Five Roses. 
  • Biltong. I actually have a biltong maker, I just need to figure out what’s the best cut of meat to use so I can make some.
  • Mrs Ball’s Chutney. I dont even really like chutney but I use to use it for cooking. Maybe I should try make my own…

All in all I think we manage just fine using local products and ingredients. And I don’t really miss anything to point of agonising over not having it. But I wouldn’t say no, if someone gave me any of the above.

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Photo taken by Paul in 2005 (I cannot for the life of me remember which game reserve it was)