Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Mostly though, it’s how my day has felt.
I was done with my workout just before 11:00 am when I remembered that my building turned off the water for the day at 10:00am for some sort of a maintenance task.
I now see the downside of not owning cases of seltzer. I washed up using what was left in my electric kettle. needless to say, I felt completely grody on this warm and muggy day.
I’m working away on the T-shirt quilt. I have now used up nearly all of the t-shirts. At this point it feels like a complicated word puzzle that I’m in the middle of solving. I’m not ready to show photos, but soon it will be time to join the three strips together.
As I was about to go grocery shopping because it feels like Old Mother Hubbard’s house around here, we had a giant sloppy rainfall. Instead I made a load of pita, fixed up a pickled cabbage salad from several days ago into the above crazy salad, and made a pureed vegetable soup. I guess the larder was not completely bare.
The water got turned on ahead of schedule and I will try to shower tomorrow before ten so I don’t have to spend another day grumpy and stinky. ( Yes, I am all showered and pleasant smelling now.)
Yesterday I went on a fabric district excursion with two of my sewing buddies and ran into two Project Runway contestants in one of the fabric stores. My friends and I played it like cool New Yorkers and did not gush or scream.
So like I said, a bit of a crazy salad day around here.
Friday, June 14, 2013
If I were interested in writing a cookbook I suppose I would organize every thought I had about a topic, say challah in one place. Given that I write about topics as I’m thinking about them I realize that learning how to bake challah from me is like learning how to do it from a friend if you hang out with them as they bake. given that I actually know most of my readers it’s like sitting on a kitchen stool as I make challah week after week.
This week’s wisdom is about the early stages of making challah. Many years ago after taking a bit bite of my challah, my father in law mentioned that he thought that the challah he was eating was the ready to bake Kinneret frozen challah.
I was insulted and said that I didn’t start with a pre made frozen dough but began with water.
I add about 1 1/4 tsp of yeast and then feed the yeast.
The yeast got two forms of food, a teaspoon of flour.
Then it’s good to do a small task. I put a load of wash into the washing machine. You would wipe down your kitchen counters or wash the breakfast dishes or check your email.
When you are done with your small task, your yeast will be bubbly.
At this point, I add spices to the challah. I grind up coriander because the manna in the desert was supposed to taste like coriander. I find it hard to find ground corinader so I use my coffee grinder to grind it up. Here it is before grinding.
Whisking the rest of the ingredients into the challah dough.
It’s both the spices and the hanging around time that make the challah wonderful.
This week my youngest went to prom. Many of my son’s friends are seniors so my son figured out how to go. He asked a friend.
My son loved that this fitted knit blazer fit the bill. the silver jeans were a birthday gift from my daughter.
My son made the tie out of duct tape. It is is Pee-Wee like look.
This photo taken by Cynthia completely expresses who my kid is.
One of my favorite things about my kids is their ability to push the humor in any situation. Last weekend we stayed at the home of good friends.
They had purchased two slankets. For my kids, this was an opportunity not to be missed. The photos show the joy but not the laughter and the chants that accompanied the donning of the slankets. My kids may never win the Nobel Prize but they are completely amusing.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
All of the photos in this post were taken either by my cousin ET, or by my cousin Mark. Here I am with the bride and her mother, my older sister. You can see the dress on my actual body. The pearls I’m wearing were a 50th birthday gift from my sister.
My husband and his sister. Yes, they do look remarkably similar. I love that my sister in law has made herself so beloved to my family that she is as a matter of course invited to all family events, even those hosted by my sisters. My sister in law made the trek from California. As always, it was wonderful to spend time with her.
My oldest sister looking elegant in grey.
My kids goofing around together.
My daughter wearing the 1959 Miami Casuals dress she had inherited from Vivian’s mother. I call it the man catcher dress. It cost $16.50 in 1959.
Another shot of me in the dress with a bevy of bride’s maids behind.
My husband with our daughter. She is wearing a necklace that my mother had passed onto me when I was a teenager. I gave it to my daughter when she was a teen. I had bought her the circa 1970 earrings in an antique store last summer. My daughter thought the pearls echoes the berries on the dress in a nice way.
A standing shot of me with my cousin.
My mother. She even had her hair done. This is the first time I saw her in hair that wasn't just washed then combed into place. This is historic.
My boys, egging each other on.
Mind you all of these photos were taken pre reception. It is a big mitzvah to dance at a wedding and we all took the mitzvah really seriously. We were all completely sweat drenched and disheveled by the end of the wedding. It was a truly joyous day and was the first wedding after several years of death and illness in the family. So we all DANCED. I will post more photos as I receive them.
Friday, June 7, 2013
I have some dear fiends who are part of the Chabad world. On occasion I get an email from one of them asking me to think about a particular woman as I take challah. ( The bread is named for the challah – or small portion which is taken fro the dough before the loaves are formed. before the destruction of the Temple, the bread was given to the priests, now it is burned ) usually the woman in question is barren, or ill or needs a good shidduch.
I always feel a bit awkward when faced with such a request. I guess that I’m far too rational to think of the Divine paying attention to my thoughts so carefully that just thinking about someone who I don’t know while I was baking challah would do the person in question any good at all.
Which brings me to today’s challah baking. My friend’s mother died earlier this week. Not only was Ruth a really good daughter to her mother, Ruth is an all around good friend. She is one of those people who is deeply dependable. There have been many times over the years where she has been outstandingly kind to me. Again and again as friends have gone through difficult times they have mentioned various kindnesses that Ruth has done for them.
In our community when there is a death in the family, synagogue members will cook for the mourners during the week of shiva. When the mourner has been a good friend to others, it can be hard to claim a meal to cook. if you aren't fast enough all the meals are claimed. This was the case with Ruth. I was too late to claim a meal, but I did get to bake challah for Ruth and her family.
As I kneaded the challah today I kept thinking about nice things that Ruth has done for me, for my family and for other members of the community. I thought about how good she was at listening to me when we were taking care of my mother in law at the end of her life. I played back conversations about taking care of my mother and hers. I also remembered a bit of conversation I overheard during the first night of shiva.
My friend Linda brought a condolence note to Ruth from her mother. Linda conveyed her mother’s apologies . Linda’s mother has recently become blind and was embarrassed because her handwriting was ugly. Linda, being a good daughter, conveyed her mother’s apologies as she was directed to. Ruth took the envelope patted it and said, “ It doesn’t matter how ugly it is because what this envelope contains is love. I accept this envelope and the message that it contains.”
Kneading challah is a full body activity. The movement starts from the soles of my feet. I brace my feet against the floor and lean into the bread dough before I lift and fold it and press it down again in the the counter.
So I thought good things about Ruth and put them into the challah. I brought the two challot to Ruth in a paper bag right after I pulled them out of the oven. She opened the bag and took a big whiff. She smelled exactly what I put into the challah.
I also made chicken for us. I made a home made version of shake N bake.
I put flour, cornmeal and spices into a bag. I put in paprika, allspice, black pepper Chinese five spice peer and a bit of salt. I added a few chicken pieces to the bag at a time, shook and pulled them out when coated. If you do this, add whatever spices you like with chicken. you don't have to add the spices that I like.
This is the chicken half way through cooking
And after it was done.
The house smelled really , really good while it was cooking. I need a smell-o-vision app. I showed serious self control and didn’t snitch one piece of chicken before putting it the fridge.
There are no guests tonight. My husband has been working really crazy hours and might need a long nap before dinner, or might need to fall asleep during dinner. My older son would prefer we have guests but he will have to wait for another week.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
The wedding gift for the bride and groom is now complete with a sleeve for hanging. Feel free to admire.
I ship it off tomorrow.
I love the green glen plaid suiting used as binding. I’m pleased beyond words that I can now miter corners. Mitering was one of those sewing tasks that took me forever ( 15 years of bad attempts) to master. Sometimes it takes me a really, really long time to learn things.
Also sewn by me today were these two pairs of boxers for my older son.
I had made boxers for my older son for years. Then for the past few years he wanted store bought ones. yesterday he mentioned that he needed two more pairs and was willing for me to make them. I realized that since my yonger son’s boxers are nearly all orange, I can’t make my older son orange boxers or laundry will be be a problem.
The yellow pair is made out of some of the mystery delivery of fabric that arrived in my lobby for me a few weeks ago. I had assumed that this Chinese themed fabric would look terrible as boxers. Instead they have a vintage Hawaiian shirt vibe.
The blue pair was made out of a fancy duvet cover that I bought twenty years ago from a clearance bin at ABC carpet and home. This duvet cover has been turned into many pairs of boxers.
And one last look at the dress I’m wearing, now complete with the slip I had made for it. I made the slip out of a flashy black and silver knit. It adds a really subtle shimmer to the dress and gives the fairly ordinary lace a push into the much more interesting ( read expensive ) looking. The variations in color come from trying to get the image to show the slight shimmer.
A peek at the silvery slip.
It reminds me of my 1930’s sewing books that talk about wearing sheer dresses over slips made out of “cloth of silver”.
And finally, a last for our household.
This is the last bottle of seltzer that I plan to buy. My daughter’s boyfriend bought us a Soda Stream. I love not having to ever lug home cases of seltzer from Costco or from our local supermarket. It’s the end of an era, and it makes me happy.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
I finally finished the dress that I’m wearing at my niece's wedding. I ripped out the previous neckline and tried again.
The fact of the matter is that my sister, the bride’s mother would look carefully at the imperfect stitching in the previous iteration and it would bother her—a lot.
So I ripped out the cute but imperfect scalloped edging and made a tidy seam edging out of blue tulle.
It’s a bit boring, but very clean and tidy, and that will make my sister happy. She is my audience for the dress. I will wear a collection of pearl necklaces and I’m done. Of course I’m planning to wear a black full slip under the dress.
Tonight I went to a shiva house. On my way home there were lots of ambulances and fire engines and police are in the middle of my intersection. A taxi had hit a pedestrian. Two bad accidents in two days on the same block. If I were the suspicious sort I would spit three times ( Poo! Poo! Poo! ) and say lo aleinu /not on us.
And, so all of this sad news doesn’t weigh too heavy on your heart, a bonus cartouche from my building for you to admire.