This dog learned a new trick!

So most of you who know me, know that I’m not the most coordinated of individuals. I walk into tables, trip over my own feet, slice/burn/peel myself when in the kitchen and I’ve even been known to choke on my own spit (yes, I know, gross).

One of the things I have never been known to do, is ride a bike. My balance is iffy, and I’m terrified of falling. So when I discovered my new office is not actually in the area I thought it was going to be, and that there are not yet buses that go to the area it actually is in, I needed to rethink how I was getting to work.

Currently I’m renting a car, since the current office is almost 30 km away from home with no direct bus route. The new office is only 3 km away.

I could walk, but its incredibly hot in summer and when we tested out the route, while it is doable I arrived at the office building a panting, sweaty mess, not a very professional look.

So we started thinking of alternatives. I could try get lifts to and from work (there must be people from the city going but then I would be stuck on their schedule), take taxis (expensive), teach myself to ride a bike (hahahahaha) or I could buy an electric scooter, or korkinet as they are called in Israel.

Of all the options the scooter sounded like the best idea, yes it requires balance, but for some reason learning to balance on a scooter seemed easier than the bike.

So I started researching, doing brand comparisons and price comparisons and found a Xiaomi M365 on sale from one of the big Israeli supermarkets.

After some back and forth and discussions with Paul, we bought it.

3 days later it was delivered to our door and we went to the local bike shop and bought a helmet and some knee and elbow pads.

My first try in our driveway was, well, interesting. You need to kick off and get the scooter to 5 km/hr in order for the accelerator to engage. Now that’s not very fast, but remember, you need to be upright and balanced, so when the accelerator kicks in and you start going faster, you don’t fall down. Yeah, it took me a few tries before I got that part right.

A few days later we took the scooter to a local park that has a big flat surface that kids use to ride their bikes, scooters and skates. Perfect for practicing.

And after a few false starts, I got it. Like a switch got flicked. I was suddenly balancing, and going forward for long stretches, and not tipping sideways or falling off. I have almost mastered turning left and turning right still needs work. But I’m doing it. I learned something new!

And guys? Riding a scooter is FUN. I want to ride all the time. I was totally disappointed that I had to take the car to work the next day and not ride the scooter.

That said, I still need a bit more practice before I’m comfortable going the full 3 km to work, but thankfully I have another week or so before we move to practice.

Soup. In Summer? Yes!

I saw someone on Facebook mention making carrot soup, and despite the temperature being upward of 35C I decided it sounded really good. So I made some!

Soup in a bowl
Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
 
Course: Soup
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 kg carrots, peeled and diced into chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • garlic (Im not giving you an amount, you know how much garlic you want to add)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced or fresh
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable stock powder
  • 6 cups water
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 200°C

  2. In a bowl, toss the carrots with a bit of olive oil and salt & pepper to coat

  3. Spread the carrots on a lined baking tray and roast until soft, about 30 minutes

  4. Once carrots are ready, in your soup pot, fry the onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes, until onion is soft

  5. Add the carrots to the pot

  6. Mix the stock powder with a cup of the water and add the water to the pot

  7. Add the rest of the water to the pot

  8. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately half an hour

  9. When you are ready to eat, blend the soup with a stick blender

Recipe Notes

You can add or decrease the amount of garlic and ginger to suit your taste.

I found that roasting the carrots made them quite sweet and that the kick of the ginger was good at balancing out the flavours.

This soup was also amazing the next day, the longer it simmers the longer the flavours have to take hold.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy cake

Around 10 years or so ago, my mother in law gave me this awesome recipe and I used to make it all the time. Then for some reason I stopped making it, no idea why. Then last week, Ro asked me for the recipe and I decided why not make it myself.

It definitely stood the test of time and is one of my favourite recipes of all times.

But dont take my word for it, try it for yourself.

The easiest yummiest cake recipe ever!
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Keyword: baking, cake, lemon
Author: Gina
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • 1 packet vanilla pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • ¾ cup water
Icing
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a square or oblong baking dish

  2. Mix all the ingredients together until the batter is smooth

  3. Pour the batter into the prepare dish and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

  4. Remove from the oven and using the toothpick, poke small holes all through the top of the cake

Icing
  1. Immediately after you take the cake from the oven, mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth.

  2. While the cake is still hot, pour the icing over the cake.

  3. Wait while the icing sinks into the cake and the cake cools before serving

Recipe Notes

The cake can be eaten hot with custard or ice cream or if you prefer a cool cake, I suggest you make the cake a day before and let the icing sink into the flesh of the cake, this makes it sticky and gooey all the way through.

 

 

An alternative to vanilla and lemon is chocolate and orange.  Substitute chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding for the vanilla and use orange juice instead of lemon (be sure to strain the orange juice so it is clear and free of any pulp).

Apple Fritter Loaf

I’m part of a Facebook group, called Friday Night. A group of men and woman who share recipes for Shabbat dinner and beyond.

When a good recipe is found, it spreads like wildfire. And the photos and posts that abound this week are all of a really yummy looking dessert, Apple Fritter Loaf.

So whats a girl to do? Jump on the bandwagon of course!

Apple fritter loafs
One with icing for the kids and I, and one without for Paul.
Apple Fritter Loaf
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
 

I Frankenstein-ed this recipe together from a half dozen recipes I googled and found on the Friday Night Facebook group.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword: apple fritter, cake, dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
Apple Mixture
  • 4 apples, peeled and sliced into small chunks (I used green apples, you can use any you like)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar to try be a bit diabetic friendly)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Cake/Loaf
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • cup sugar (used coconut sugar)
  • ½ cup butter, softened (use margarine if you want parve)
  • 3 eggs
  • splash vanilla
  • cup milk (use almond or similar for parve)
Cinnamon Sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Icing
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk (almond milk for parve)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare 2 loaf pans.

Apple Mixture
  1. Peel and dice apples and toss with sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Cake/Loaf
  1. Add flour, baking powder, sugar and mix

  2. Add butter, eggs, vanilla and milk. Mix well. The batter will be quite runny.

Cinnamon Sugar
  1. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.

Make the cake
  1. Pour a quarter of the batter into each of the loaf pans.

  2. Place a quarter of the apple mixture into the pan.

  3. Sprinkle a quarter of the cinnamon sugar over the apples n each pan.

  4. Pour the remaining batter evenly over the apple and cinnamon layer.

  5. Place the remaining apple and cinnamon sugar mixes over the batter.

  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Icing
  1. While the loaves are baking, mix the icing sugar and milk.

  2. The thicker you want the icing, the less milk you add.

  3. Drizzle the icing over the loaves once they have cooled for 10-15 minutes

Banana Bread

I mentioned on Instagram and Facebook that I always buy bananas when I want to ripen avocado pears. And that we very seldom actually eat the bananas. Which inevitably results in banana bread.

Avos and bananas in a bowl

Here is my foolproof recipe.

Banana Bread
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
 
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish
Keyword: banana, cake
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 3-6 ripe or over ripe bananas
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup oil or melted butter
  • chocolate chips (no amount, just go wild)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 180°C and prepare 1 large or 2 small loaf pans. I have also made these as cupcakes.

  2. Peal and mash the bananas.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined.

  4. Scoop batter into pans.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes. If making cupcakes 20 minutes should do.

Flags of Hope

This article was originally posted on Lay of the Land.

This past week Israel celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut, our 72 Independence Day!

Usually this day is celebrated with fireworks, concerts, ceremonies, and parties. People gather on the beaches, in the forests and in the parks.

Not so this year.  Covid-19 put the kibosh on all of that. Israelis were relegated to celebrating indoors, in their own homes, under strict lockdown conditions.

What still did happen though; and what happens every year; is that the municipality starts putting up Israeli flags along the streets, on street poles and lamps. They hang blue and white bunting across intersections. This takes place across cities and towns country wide and is very festive!

Decorating
(Photo credit: Paul Jacobson.)

Families also decorate their balconies, gardens, and cars with flags. The whole country is proudly blue and white!

A week or so before Yom Ha’atzmaut, I came across a post on Facebook written by someone who was upset that the municipality was, in his opinion, ‘wasting’ money that could have been used towards medical care, equipment and such, because they were putting up these flags.

That comment bugged me. Even now, a week after Yom Ha’atzmaut has come and gone, it’s still bugging me.

I totally understand that our medical needs are huge, that our medical front liners need PPE equipment and that we need more ventilators and that saving lives is the most important thing we can do.

But…I also feel that celebrating our independence, our homeland and our freedom is just as important. Perhaps this is even more so in these troubled and uncertain times.

Seeing those flags made me smile. Seeing those flags made my heart feel lighter. It made me feel connected to people, my fellow citizens, when I had spent almost an entire month in my home with no personal contact with anyone outside of my immediate family.

Those flags gave me hope.

It was an affirmation. We are Israel!  We are Israelis –  and we can overcome anything that is thrown our way.

So, random Facebook man, I vehemently disagree!

Those flags are not a waste of money. Not at all. They are – JoyLove and Hope. And they are a promise.

We WILL make it through this.

We WILL survive.

It’s what we do.

Post Pesach Yeast Rolls

So Pesach ended, and due to lock down, bakeries were not allowed to start production right away, and also, I didn’t want to brave the shops just for bread or rolls, so I made my own.

I found a simple recipe online, gave myself 2 hours and made delicious, fluffy rolls for dinner.

Easy Yeast Rolls
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Resting Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 40 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: rolls, yeast
Servings: 8 rolls
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (I used instant)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour
Instructions
  1. Mix yeast, sugar and water together in your stand mixer bowl, if you dont have a stand mixer then a large mixing bowl.

  2. Allow yeast to start frothing.

  3. Add oil and salt.

  4. Add 2 cups of flour and start mixing.

  5. Slowly add the rest of the flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough starts coming together and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

  6. Keep checking the dough after every half cup of flour, dough should be tacky but not sticky.

  7. Keep adding flour until you reach the correct consistency.

  8. Lightly spray the bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel and leave for approx 1 hour.

  9. Remove the dough from the bowl and split into 8 even pieces.

  10. Roll the eight pieces into balls and place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.

  11. Leave an inch of space between each ball.

  12. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and leave for a further 45 minutes to an hour.

  13. Heat oven to 200°C.

  14. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the rolls start to turn golden brown.

  15. Remove from oven and allow to cool on racks.

Recipe Notes

This recipe was adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Next time, I will brush the rolls with an egg wash before baking.

Death by Sugar

Last week, Faith asked if we can bake a cake, we decided on chocolate and earlier this week I found a really great, one bowl, recipe that worked a treat.

Now, when it comes to icing/frosting the cake, we usually just do a simple icing sugar and water drizzle, but I had just bought a rather large bag of mini marshmallow and I got a bee in my bonnet about making a marshmallow frosting.

I searched online and couldn’t find a simple recipe so I asked The Cupcake Lady, Angel, if she had any ideas, and she pointed me to a pretty simple recipe that came out great.

So, without further ado, here are both recipes…

chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting
One Bowl Chocolate Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cake, chocolate
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar (I used brown)
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 175C

  2. Prepare 2 9 inch round pans or 1 12 inch round pan (which is what I did)

  3. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients

  4. Add wet ingredients except the boiling water and mix well

  5. Once all ingredients have come together. add the boiling water and continue mixing until well combined

  6. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so and then remove from cake tin to cool completely

Recipe Notes

This recipe was adapted from All Recipes One Bowl Chocolate Cake III

cake with slice cut out
Marshmallow Frosting
Prep Time
45 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Keyword: frosting, icing, marshmallow
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1.25 cups sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg white
  • 18 large marshmallows (I used 180 mini marshmallows)
Instructions
  1. Boil the sugar and water together until they reach 112C or, if you dont have a candy thermometer, a small drop of the syrup forms a soft ball in ice water

  2. Remove from heat

  3. Break up the marshmallows, if you are using large ones, and add them to the syrup, dont stir

  4. Leave to melt for a few minutes

  5. While waiting for the marshmallows to melt, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form

  6. Add the syrup and marshmallows to the egg white and beat well until it is all combined to a spreadable consistency

  7. Mine was runny but if yours is not spreadable add a few drops of water at a time until its right

  8. Spread over your cake or cupcakes

Recipe Notes

Recipe taken from Happy Money Saver – Great Grandmother’s Marshmallow Frosting

6 months in numbers

Roughly 6 months ago, I was let go from my job of 4 and a half years. In that time I have been job searching, reading a ton and learning front end web development by teaching myself HTML and CSS.

Its been an extremely wild 6 months. It was fun. It was stressful. It was enlightening. I got to spend time with Paul, even though he was working during the week. I got to eat lunch with my entire family, every day. I played games with the kids, took them to the park after school and helped with homework. I got to spend the entire summer break and all the Jewish holidays with the kids and Paul. I fell into a funk, especially after each rejection email from a potential job opportunity. I worked through each funk. I started running (and need to get back into it). I taught myself a new skill. I read. A lot.

As of today, the job searching has come to an end since I am now employed in an amazing company and am happily working in my new job! And Im going to be utilising some of the new skills I’ve learned!

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

The process of being (f)unemployed and searching for a job was hard. It certainly wasn’t quick and it took a hell of a lot of work and constant vigilance. It was at times demoralising and at times it was quite a bit of fun. I learned a lot and met some amazing people. The entire process is a post in and of itself.

I definitely could not have done it without Paul and the kids support. They held me up when I thought I would never find a job. They encouraged me to apply for jobs outside my comfort zone. They cheered with me for every interview gotten and hugged me for every position lost. And now here we are on the other side.

And now, the numbers:

  • 6 months
  • 90+ jobs applied for
  • 30+ telephone interviews, skills tests, Skype interviews, psychometric tests and in-person interviews undertaken, from the…
  • 13 companies interviewed with
  • 3 offers made
  • 1 awesome job accepted!

In the last 6 months I have also done the following:

  • Read 194 books
  • Averaging 32 books a month (1 a day!)
  • Averaging 9000 pages read in a month

and:

  • Took various classes on Codecademy in HTML and CSS
  • Joined She Codes;
  • Have had 4 groups lessons
  • Completed 6 lessons on HTML and CSS
  • In the process of coding my own cooking site
  • Starting to learn JavaScript

Thanksgiving and Pie

We were invited for a thanksgiving shabbat this week by American born friends in our neighbourhood. I asked what I could bring and was offered sides or dessert. I chose dessert!

Pie!! I mean who doesn’t love pie?

While apple pie is traditional, our hostess is allergic to apples, so I made two pies. One apple pie and one pear pie. Win win right?

Apple (or pear) pie
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

A traditional and simple apple pie recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 packet frozen pastry dough
Filling
  • 8 apples (or pears), granny smith apples preferable
  • splash lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg for brushing the pastry
Instructions
  1. Peel and slice the apples (or pears) into small chunks.

  2. Place apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, salt and flour in a bowl and toss with your hands until all the fruit is covered.

  3. Cover bowl of fruit with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or more.

  4. Take your frozen pastry dough out and let it defrost until it is manageable but still cool, I left mine in the fridge for 1 hour and it was ready when the fruit was ready.

  5. When you are ready to assemble the pie, turn your oven on to 180C.

  6. Once fruit is ready, take your dough and roll out a piece big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your pie dish.

  7. Place the pastry inside the dish and push the sides up a bit so they stick to the dish.

  8. Take your fruit and layer it into the pie dish, making sure the entire bottom is covered. Keep layering the fruit until in reaches the top of the dough up the sides of the dish.

  9. There will be some liquid left in the bowl, pour no more than 3/4 of a cup of this liquid over the top of the fruit before covering the pie with more dough.

  10. Roll out more dough and either place a full round piece on top of the pie or cut into strips and create a lattice top. You can also roll out the dough and cut shapes with cookie cutters, then create a patter with the shapes.

  11. If you place a full piece on top, cut a few slits into the dough to allow steam to escape.

  12. Brush the pastry dough with a bit of beaten egg.

  13. Once the pie is ready, place in the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes.

  14. Keep an eye on the pie and if you see the edges starting to burn you can cover them with a bit of foil molded to fit the pie dish.

  15. The pie is ready when the pastry is brown and the fruit is bubbling around the edges of the pastry.

  16. Allow to cool down before slicing. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Inspired Taste