Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My Take on Lachmagine

As a recovering carbaholic, I try to be aware and limit my consumption of flour-based deliciousness. I currently have a container of leftover roasted potatoes eyeing me hopefully every time I open the fridge. Luckily pasta doesn't have the same hold over me, or else I'd be doomed. How I love cereal.

By the blessing of the Lord above, the man I married shares a similar carb-cautiousness. 

There are some foods he enjoys, however, that involve dough, like lachmagine. But for him, the ikkur isn't the dough, it's the meat. Having fallen hard for spaghetti squash, I believe I came across a recipe for spaghetti squash pizza crust, without the cheese binder that many rely on. 

I did find such a recipe on A Beautiful Mess (omitting the oregano and cayenne, using my own choice of spices), and experimented by making two crusts, one from riced cauliflower and the other from spaghetti squash. I must say, the squash version was much easier to deal with. The edges of the cauliflower crust crumbled, whereas the squash remained firm and intact. 

For the meat topping, I used a recipe that came with the riced cauliflower package, which is by Naomi Nachman

Using 14 cup measurements, I made quite many mini-crusts from one spaghetti squash. After baking the crusts, and before putting on the meat topping, I flipped them over. 

The crust was nice and firm.

I opted to make my own prune butter by simmering some prunes with a splash of water. Didn't take long. 

The leftovers kept very well in the fridge for quite a few days.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

For Cuteness!

A number of months ago, there was an article in the NY Times that niggled at me. And niggled at me. And niggled at me. 

I have found the only way to deal with the niggles is to write about it. 

The article, by Pagan Kennedy, was called "Why You Want to Eat This Baby Up: It’s Science." She begins by describing how since childhood, she never wanted to have children, to the horror of everyone. 

She just doesn't find babies cute, she claims. According to her, that's the only reason a woman would want to have a child. 

Like, for reals?

The only reason why people have children is because they're cute?

What I never quite understood about those who profess no desire to besmirch their comfortable existences with demanding little humans is this: we were ALL children once. Our parents besmirched their comfortable existences to create and raise you

Additionally, how long are we cute? Not very long, in the grand scheme of things. Many babies enter the world colicky and crabby. Babies leak from every orifice. As Han's friend joked, "Babies begin smiling when we're about to chuck 'em out a window." Cuteness is for survival. 

But why do we have kids? As Jews, we know why. Heritage, mesorah, passing on the flame, etc. etc. The cuteness is just a perk. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Biblical Win-Win

I had an epiphany a while back, but life ensued and I was not able to type it up. It's kind of random, but whatevs. 

In the Torah, there is that bit that if you see the donkey of someone you hate struggling with its burden, you are supposed to help the hated one, even if your best bud who is standing next to him could use a hand. 

Sometimes the Torah gives us the means to be the most annoying. 

If you can't stand someone (and we assume the feeling is mutual), the one thing they do not want from you is a favor. It makes them choke to be beholden to someone they don't like. 

Let us say (and I am totally not speaking from experience, cough cough) there is a shadchan who drives you mad. Your profile needs constant editing (according to her), your pictures are no good (according to her), and for all that nitpicking, her shidduch suggestions are waaaaay off base. 

It would aggravate me to no end if she would end up being my shadchan.

So: Help out the guy with whom you have a feud. Because that'll make him want to explode. Win-win.  

Friday, July 12, 2019


There were two articles printed this past Monday that I found engrossing. 

Monday, July 1, 2019


I am not usually a crier. I'm keenly experience emotions, so I should be crier, except my mother had that European shame of overt displays of feeling (she would have been a crier too, if not for that programming). Even when she died, I did not weep excessively. 

Then, when I became pregnant with Ben, oh boy. I was bawling constantly. It took me until Ma's first yartzheit, when I was with child, to cry. I cried when there was the slightest hint of tension. I cried in the shower, just for the heck of it.

Then, when he was born—hooooooeeeeee. I cried some more. I was happy, ecstatic, but still very, very weepy. My sister reassured Han that this was normal. 

It's the hormones, yes. But I wasn't irrational. I wasn't hysterical. I just needed a box of tissues. 

Randi Hutter Epstein in "Stop Calling Women Hormonal" explains the purpose of hormones, and that blaming them is not really fair to women or to the hormones. 

I recall an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" when Ray is about to enter the house but sees through the window Debra crying on the couch. He believes she's miserable, but she calmly explains that sometimes she just needs a good cry. 
Then there was another episode when he believes she has PMS, and she attacks him "like a monkey tearing into a cupcake" for blaming the hormones. When Marie walks in on their argument, she actually slaps her beloved son in defense of her not-so-beloved daughter-in-law.  

So, yeah, just because I'm crying doesn't mean I don't have a point.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Not-As-Horrible Frosting

I had been searching for years. I tried, multiple times, but my attempts were fruitless. I occasionally gave up hope. But now, I have found what I sought for so long. 

I shall start from the beginning. 

Many of us have family recipes that defines their clan. For us, there's paprikash, bundtcake, and Shabbos cake. 

Shabbos cake was my mother's chocolate cake, baked in a massive pan. It would be layered into two rows, slathered on top and in between with pareve whip. It was named "Shabbos cake" since it only emerged from the garage deep freeze for Shabbos. 

It was a happy childhood indeed. 

Then stupid education got in the way. We learned pareve whip is made from trans-fat, the worst of the worst. Since the human body doesn't recognize it, it can't metabolize it, and simply parks it in your thighs and arteries where it remains. It has actually now been banned in new food products.

Good-bye, pareve whip. 

But I needed a replacement, which proved to be nigh on impossible. I tried cashew cream, but the frosting was dingy in color, heavy in texture. Coconut cream seemed the best option, but it tastes like coconut. I hate coconut, and so do many of my family members. Aquafaba wasn't stable enough for my needs; it sort of self-destructs in storage. 

There was one option that I stubbornly refused to attempt because of a rather silly reason: it required a candy thermometer. I didn't want to buy a gadget to take up space for one recipe. Seemed wasteful. 

Until my nocturnal surfing while feeding the baby got the better of me. I bought the dinky thermometer. 

And the results are TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!
I used my first attempt to frost a brownie my sister gave me. Quite delicious. Sadly, she can't find the recipe she used.
I used this recipe for marshmallow frosting, and I was finally able to recreate the Shabbos cake of my youth (my sister made the cake for a family birthday party, I made the frosting).
Yes, I know it's not so pretty, but that's because I need practice. No fault of the frosting.

While the recipe calls for corn syrup, one can use agave instead (I did). Additionally, it is of upmost importance that the egg whites are room temperature. I made one batch will cold whites and the frosting was a failure. After separating the next batch of whites, I waited a half hour and the frosting was magnificent.

Since someone in the audience will jump down my throat, I am not claiming that frosting with copious amounts of sugar is healthy. However, it is certainly better than trans-fat. It's all about compromise.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Shidduch Lit VII

Rona Jaffe's The Best of Everything:
This book takes place in the 1950s, as young women flock to Manhattan for secretarial positions. There is a scene where a group of single women attend the wedding of a co-worker. Our heroine is Caroline; the co-worker is Mary Agnes.
"You'll find somebody," Mary Agnes said. "Don't you worry." 

"I'm not worried, Mother," Caroline said. 

"That's a good attitude," said Mary Agnes, licking the salt off her fingers. "I admire you for it. Most girls our age are scared to death if there's nobody on the horizon, and that's silly. Because if you look at the girls five years older than we are, why, I don't know one who isn't married." 

"I do." 

"Are they terribly ugly?"

"Quite the contrary. I've met some at parties who are very pretty and smart, too, with good jobs." 

Mary Agnes' eyes widened as if she were about to expound some great and mysterious bit of philosophy. "Well, she said, perhaps there's something psychologically wrong with them." 

Caroline clamped her lips together to keep from laughing and jiggled her empty glass so Mary Agnes could see it. "I've got to get a refill," she gasped, and fled to the desk that was serving as a bar. The whole conversation had been so ludicrous, really, with Mary Agnes smug now that she had landed her man and she herself the adventurous but rather pathetic figure of the attractive unattached girl. It made her want to laugh when she thought of Mary Agnes' comments, and yet, unaccountably, they hurt a little too. Because as always she could see and hear everything on two levels, the one that told her how silly it was and the one that allowed her to become affected and upset. She was only twenty-two, she had been out of college only two years, and she knew she was going to get married someday . . .Caroline knew she had lied to Mary Agnes because one always lied to such people if one intended to survive. But she couldn't lie to herself. She was worried about getting married. She knew it was ridiculous, but she was worried. She wondered whether every girl felt the same way she did, or whether it was a personal foolishness. 

Sound familiar? It did to me. Plenty of my posts dealt with this same dual feelings that the people who made ridiculous comments were ridiculous, of course I'll meet my one-and-only someday—but what if I don't?

Then this passage, as Caroline contemplates her dating life: 

She was realizing already as she came to the end of her second year in New York that thoughtfulness like this was hard to find. There were men . . . all good looks and charm . . . There were dozens of utterly mismatched blind dates that she had been inflicted with in the past two years, a sentence of hard labor starting with the words (usually uttered by some nice older woman who hardly knew her or the boy) "I know a nice young man for you to meet." These amateur matchmakers seemed to think the mere fact that Caroline wore a skirt and the man wore pants was enough to make them want to hurl themselves into each other's arms. And there was the majority, the so-so dates, the young men who didn't particularly care about her or she about them, but who continued to call her once in a while for dinner or drinks because they too were marking time. 

There is nothing knew under the sun. Nor is our situation specific to us frummies. We are simply in a time warp when it comes to our romantic experiences. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Shabbos Lashes

Three day yuntif. For a makeup lover like myself, cue the đŸ˜± emoji. I love yuntif! But keeping on mascara for three days is quite daunting.

In my younger, pre-baby days, keeping makeup on for so long was a challenge I was amenable to tackle. But I
now cherish sleep to the point that I just want to bury my face into a pillow and pass out after a 2 am feeding.

I still, however, want to go out in public with my dignity intact.

A few years back I heard of magnetized false lashes. The lashes attach with magnets, so they can be applied and removed and reapplied on Shabbos. As I  am armed with Shabbos makeup, mascara is the only chink in my armor.

So this past Shabbos I gave it a trial run. I purchased a set by Lash’d Up on Amazon called "I Woke Up This Way," and after a few tries, managed to somewhat successfully apply them. They aren’t too dramatic - my mascara is usually more over the top - and with Shabbos eyeliner I was able to make it look more blended with the lash line. 

Because they are magnetized, you can’t use metal tweezers to get them on. I think I will look for plastic ones to assist.

So after a bleary night with baby, I was able to take my eyes from bare to smoky on Shabbos, with lashes!

The Messiah cometh!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Missed Me?

She humbly inquired.

Well, I did have a pretty good reason. Approximately 7 lbs. of it. 

I'm a mommy now.  

The blessed little fellow, to be referred to as Ben, has cut into my extracurricular activities a bit. But I still intend to blog. 

Sand People couldn't keep me away. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Art vs. Supper

Today's culture puts little value on home life. Domesticity can be dully repetitive (as my Babi would joke, "You want supper again? I fed you yesterday!"), and for some, a barrier to more "lofty" achievements.
In my case, home life was always more appealing than anything else, work or vacation included (vacation, to me, is as much work as work). I've feel fulfilled when chasing after kinfauna. I find the noise of something substantial clattering up the vacuum hose oddly satisfying. And, weirdly, I don't mind doing dishes.
Yet these necessary and endless tasks can get "in the way" of "art," according to the standard narrative. As Bookends asked, "Are Domestic Responsibilities at Odds With Becoming a Great Artist?" The question was answered by Siddhartha Deb, a single father, and Dana Stevens, a mommy.
Deb argues that standard employment is not considered a barrier to art, only dish washing, because the latter is uncompensated and so, therefore, "unproductive."
Yet the reality is that art and domestic work are both likely to go uncompensated or poorly compensated, and under such circumstances, both have to be approached with love and rigor to be done well. In that sense, great art and domestic responsibilities are as like each other as my elaborate meal plans are like the chapter outlines of my maximalist novel.

Stevens provides examples of recognized authors who did not have children, and even gave credit to their art for that fact; however, she also lists those who did have children and succeeded. She also points out that many abandoned their families in the pursuit of "art" and did not become well-known.
. . . with time, my romantic vision of the uncluttered life of the pure artist has gotten agreeably cluttered by life itself.

She simply concludes that an artist must be more driven, that's all, in order to create, and that shows their devotion. No worries.
Yiyun Li reviewed Deborah Levy's book "The Cost of Living," as Levy describes her writing while also extremely busy with everyday life. The stereotypical artist escapes from the responsibilities of the mundane life, but does that make their work any better without those "distractions"? Levy's books were critically recognized, even with the millstones of everyday hanging about her neck.
For my own preferences, I prefer reading stories of "real life," of characters navigating the everyday, the mundane, and trying to figure out the best choices to make. In general, facing reality head-on instead of avoiding the inevitable is my jam. I don't find artists who abandon their families to float without care at all appealing; that art, in my opinion, is worthless.
It can be done.