Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy BlogDay!

I am a creature of habit. Or, more precisely, to things, people and certain places, I am fiercely loyal. What that means is that once I find something I like, I stick to it. That is, I read the Globe and Mail and Ha'aretz online on Sundays. Of course there are various blogs that are scanned regularly in hopes of finding new posts.
Today being Blog Day 2006 I have been given the opportunity to find new blogs (and therefore new people) to become loyal to. What does that mean? Well, first off it gives me an opportunity to explore more ideas and locales and brainspaces, giving me the opportunity to branch out and further enrich my life.

What five blogs did I choose, well it was a bit of a tough decision, there are so many out there...

The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz - a neophyte cook learning to do alot more than just boil water, baring her mistakes and her successes to the world. I like the fact that her name (Paz) means peace, which nowadays is a rare thing!

YogurtLand An expatriate Turk living in the USA recreating the taste of home (and bringing it to some of us for the very first time)

Say na Something A young Nepalese woman talking about life in Nepal and other musings.

Sugar Delirium How to try and kick the habit and enjoy yourself (well, most of the time!) at the same time. Well, I can relate to that!

Karakia Coast A farmer/writer living on an island off the coast of New Zealand and writing beautifully about everything from The Who at Leeds to high altitude medicinal plants courtesy of NPR to podcasts on the tractor. How more perfect can you get?

So to my new blog reads, please keep on writing and bringing me new food for thought.

Oh, and thank you!

The links to BlogDay and Technorati BlogDay

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Learning to Blog

This whole blog thing – writing for, not reading – is new to me. Not only is it a case of writing something (and trying to put it in a way that it is interesting if anybody actually reads my blog, which so far, has not happened except for my mom) and putting in the visuals, but there is the linking and downloading and url's and a whole new vocabulary and skill set to learn.

I think I once learned how to make a loop in computerese "if x then goto…" and actually managed to get a single line of silliness regarding a teacher to repeat itself ad infinitum. But that is the total extent of my fluency. This doesn't mean I can't trouble shoot or deal with new hardware or software, but the finesse, the je ne sais quoi, that is something I do not have (yet). Well, at least I enjoy myself while I am learning!

I look at my blog and I think – "ok, the photos I like", but I like them better when I can download them straight from my computer or Picasa. But either the Beta-Blogger or a parameter somewhere in my computer, doesn't always let me do that. Instead, I have to go into Hello and send pictures to my neo-blog (that I abandoned to move over to Beta after 3 posts), then cut the html code and paste it into my post. And then the picture is like a textbox and I can't write beside it. Most annoying.

When I look at my blog I see the same template as every other beginner and I want to make it special, but how – so I spend hours looking at other blogs, and try to figure out what elements I would like and what layouts look good. But how do I make my template do what I want it to do? I found FoodBlog S'cool and I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time there trying to make me look better and be more efficient, which is kind of an oxymoron – spending hours trying to learn how to make something more efficient! I also went into the Blogger Help Group and see that there are alot of people looking for similar answers.

Anyways, before I start surfing and researching I make dinner (usually) and eat it in front of the computer. My life online only starts at around 8pm. This sounds late, but life in Israel is not all milk and honey, only fairly recently have the majority of companies implemented the 5 day work week. A standard working day (unless you are a VP or CEO) is 9 (plus 1/2 hour for lunch), but there is so much job competition that I work closer to 10 or 11 and only get home after 7pm most nights. Which means that by the time I am working on this blog my brain is not functioning at the peak of its performance capabilities, not that it works that well at the best of times.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What Cactuses Do When I Babysit Them

A friend of mine has been away for the past 3 weeks and I have been babysitting her cactuses.
To express their gratitude they gave me flowers
(the cactuses, that is)

I hope they are still blooming when she returns.


Excitement, excitement, SistR and I got this weeks box from Chubeza. Oh joy and bliss. It is like having Christmas every week (yes Christmas – I grew up celebrating it as a seasonal/family thing, not a religious thing, so when I think of antici . . .

. . . pation, that is what I think of)

I scooted home on my trusty scooter – cautiously, as I do like to stay alive, and because driving home I face directly into the setting sun and even though I know the importance of eyes and I have great sunglasses (two pairs) –– the majority of people think that squinting is good enough.

Rushing upstairs I dumped my helmet and gloves, grabbed a couple of bags from my recycle pile and trotted upstairs. Instead of the usual giggles and laughter on the other side of the door from SistR's nearly 5 year old daughter Jesamine, there was silence and when the door finally opened, there was J, with her arm in a wraparound cast, looking a bit bleary eyed and fragile. Turned out she had been bouncing off walls and when she mistook a chair for an immovable object, she took a header and broke her elbow. Ouch! This new and unfortunate development meant that the Viewing of the CSA was delayed while J got some extra special spoiling, a story on demand (about a cat that broke its arm and had to go to the hospital to see the doctor… wonder where she got that idea?) and a very gently session of nosey-nosey-eskimosey (which isn't necessarily PC but then again, we also do eary eary eskimeary so, I am not sure how I should approach the PC'ness of this children's rhyme).

When SistR (that's her watching the road) and I finally got around to unpacking, we did so surrounded by a broken armed child, a cat doll, also with broken arm, and 4 very interested cats who thought it was great fun that the adults were sitting on the floor playing with a cardboard box.
What Did We Get This Week?

  • A baby cabbage
  • A head of lettuce, iceberg I think –the heat here makes iceberg more like tapwater that hasn't yet run cold, so it resembles a loose bunch of soft lettuce leaves like bibb
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Green onions that are almost as skinny as chives
  • Leeks that are the thickness of a Sharpie marker
  • A big bunch of basil Butternut squash
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Asparagus beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Red okra

All three of us thought the okra was amazing. They are the exact colour of really red rhubarb (with that hint of green in the background, looking like curved talons reaching graspingly out of the bag. But what to do with them?

I searched the web but couldn't find anywhere that specifically told of the differences between normal green okra and the red kind. My usual okra treatment is dry fried whole with a sprinkling of Maldon salt, or some plain yellow currypowder and the salt. I love the texture and flavour and don't like to overwhelm it.

Is there a difference in the taste/texture/slime factor?

I will probably have them for dinner tomorrow night, so if anybody has any suggestions I will gratefully accept them.

Before I started on real food I was weaned on breastmilk and homemade babyfood. No bottles and Gerber for me or my sisters. I remember a little dolls' cutlery set made of tin and a cast iron pot with a real hinged handle that had a capacity of about 2 tablespoons. The first thing I remember "cooking" was a cheddar cheese soup. I was about 3 years old, so for me soup was a liquid first and foremost. I didn't understand about roux and heat, melting and simmering. Nor did I understand the concept of western esthetics and hygiene - I went about making my soup in the same fashion that chicha is made. I don't remember, but I am sure I enjoyed the finished product as much as my dolls did, if not more!

When I started going outside without supervision I used to treat my friends to mudpies made in my sand bucket. Even then I shopped for in season local produce, taking only the choicest freshly dug earth, making sure that there were no roots or stems or wriggling earthworms lurking at the bottom to make this less than palatable. I. would judiciously add water enough to make an emulsion and then I would whip the mixture vigorously with a twig broken from a maple tree. What resulted was almost a mousse that was smooth and light, with a froth on the top like the crema from a topnotch espresso .

From there I progressed to helping my mother in the kitchen, though I suspect I hindered more than I helped. But the memories are there of pricking her special Christmas shortbreads with an extra large fork, or buttering and flouring the pans for a cake. By the age of five I was a specialist in hamburger patty patting and corn shucking. I could also pour a beer with a two finger head on it, being extra careful to tilt the glass just so.

When I was a little older I was allowed to make supper once a week, choosing what we would eat. At the time (and even today when I am feeling particularly vulnerable) my favourite meal was roast chicken with roast potatoes, green peas and pan gravy. So every week that is what I made. No matter who was cooking, my mother, my sister or me, dinner always came with a big bowl of salad that always had carrot coins and green onions and a finely chopped hardboiled egg, sometimes it had leftover broccoli or raw cauliflower, sometimes tomatoes, sometimes corn.

My mom's salad dressing recipe was (and is) the simplest, tastiest dressing ever; and it is made directly on the salad, no faffing about with bottles or whisks. It is put on the salad in this order: salt and freshly ground pepper, oil – depending on whether it was for everyday, or for good, mom would use either corn oil or olive oil, but if it was for semi-good then it would be half-and-half, and Allen's salad vinegar (Heinz also does a salad vinegar, but I don't think it has the same flavour). The oil and vinegar was poured on to the count of seven (said not too fast, but not too slowly either, after all, you want dressing on your salad and not the other way 'round). Give the whole thing a toss, taste for seasoning and serve. That's the whole recipe, but don't forget about the chopped hardboiled egg, it "finishes" the dressing and is the final touch for the salad.

I did have a few (well, many) disasters, memorable among them was my steamed steak dinner with mashed potatoes. This is what happens when everybody is telling you to hurry up they are starving and you are about 7 and of course your head is not yet filled with useful bits of knowledge. I knew that you put the lid on a pot to make it boil quicker, so it made sense to me that if I put the lid on the pan where the steaks were busy sizzling away they would cook quicker too. Graciously, everyone ate their dinner. The steaks tasted ok, but were an appetizing shade of grey that nicely set off the bilious green of the Brussels sprouts and the creamy colour of the billowy clouds of lumpy mashed potatoes (the lumps were left in deliberately as my sister trained us all to like them that way). At least the salad had nothing anybody could complain about!.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tel Aviv Touring

One of the things I find really amazing about living in Israel is how interested the people are in learning more about their country. There are organized tours put on by every group and organization imaginable. From the New Immigrant Groups, Airforce Golden Agers and Singles Meeting Singles groups to local municipalities. Being a bit limited in how I get about - namely the distance my scooter

can comfortably take me, I tend to go exploring with the Tel Aviv municipality groups. That doesn't mean that the type or location of the tour is limited. There are all sorts of tours available, focused on writers and artists, or specific neighbourhoods, political or historical, or, my favourites of course, food oriented.

There are tours of the Levinsky Market in Florentine, with its spices and small cafes,

Neve Tsedek - the first neighbourhood of Tel Aviv with its narrow streets that are a mix of very rich new residents and the restaurants and cafes that cater to them, and the descendants of the original residents, who stayed on because they couldn't afford to move out when newer and better neighbourhoods opened up. Now they are getting their own back because this is one of the most expensive places to live in Israel now, but there are still workers cafes that have mafroum (Libyan style stuffed fried potatoes in spicy tomatoe sauce) and couscous on Fridays.

There are food tours of the new port that start at the city morgue and end with the Max Brenner chocolate cafe,

and there are tours of the Jaffa Flea Market and the restaurants that can be found there. And every once in a while they put on special tours as part of a neighbourhood festival.

I usually go alone unless I can find a friend who is free that evening or afternoon. This is unusual as most Israelis travel in packs, and I haven't yet learned that fine art, nor do I think I ever will. Personally, I prefer quality over quantity. The next local festival, my neighbourhood - Jaffa is in the spotlight, is in September.

Decisions, decisions, which tours will I take then?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Beans & Watermelons

Pim's post on What's Weird reminded me that I had a cow tongue sitting in my freezer... I also had some yard-long beans from Chubeza. Well, perigrinations between cookbooks and blogs and contemplation of the various combinations that could ensue, I decided on a really simple stirfry with chili, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, the remainder of my CSA basil and eggplants, with the beans and tongue as the main focus.

I got a bit distracted when I started, and ended up making room in the fridge first, attacking my watermelon and throwing it in the blender (with some frozen watermelon cubes from its predecessor) .

Refreshed, I set off to deal with the tongue... first of all I washed it really really really well until it almost didn't feel slimey anymore - who knows where it had been. Then I stuck it in a pot of cold water, brought it to the boil, drained it and rinsed it again. I put it back in the pot, covered it in cold water, added an onion, some coriander stems, a carrot, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and peppercorns. I brought the whole thing to a boil again and then turned it down to low and let it simmer for 3 hours. After cooling down, it went into the fridge to chill.

While it was chilling I decided that the perfect dessert, as inspired by Cooksister, would be a clafoutis using the first prune plums of the season.

Per usual, I looked at various recipes and then closed all of the books and blogs and winged it. I added some fresh ground mace and lemon zest to the batter, and added less sugar than suggested. Then I threw it into my disfunctional oven which only has 2 settings, high and grill, that work right now. This means that I have to turn it on and off trying to keep the heat regulated. It takes a bit of getting used to but I am generally successful.

Dinner was good - but I think the beans had suffered from the hot dry weather we have been having lately as they were quite chewy and tough even after being stewed as against stirfried. The tongue, however, was meltingly tender and delicate, its flavour not overwhelmed by the garlic-ginger-chili sauce.

The clafoutis was exactly like it is supposed to be - eggy and spongy and sweetly sour. But I am undecided if I really like this - the texture is always just a bit rubbery. Next time, perhaps, I will try to treat it like a really damp muffin mix and the crumb will change.

So after puttering in the kitchen for most of the day I turned out two tasty but not totally satisfying dishes. Some days you just can't win. Oh well...

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Childhood Remembered...

Chez Pim's question of What Weird is Weird is a bit of a thing to make you go hmmmmm.

This question certainly goes along with the 5 Things to eat before you die ... Should you include the weird in with the essential or are they mutually exclusive?

I grew up as one of a very small handful of Jews in a whitebread suburb of Toronto. That didn't mean that life was all gefilte fish (with its salty-sweet jelly) and matzoh ball soup. Our great treat was octopus tentacles from Chinatown - though my younger sister always called them testicles. This might sound fairly normal now, but back in the late sixties and early seventies this was not kosher (in more ways than one). We also ate salted plums in these amazing little flowered packets, squid in their own ink, and all kinds of exotica including trying roasted caterpillars in S.Africa.

My mom is very adventurous and so we were exposed to any number of weird and wonderful foods. I was violently ill after sea cucumbers, but love chicken feet and have eaten krill, just scooped from the sea, that wriggled on their way down. I even remember eating whale way back before the bans - it was strong and musky and rubbery, but that could have been because it was tinned.

Weird was eating Kraft Dinner for the first time at 14 (even though all of my friends grew up on the stuff). Weird was toasted white bread with white sugar and margarine. Normal was clamming at Cape Cod in May and waiting impatiently for mom to get out her Swiss Army knife and shuck those babies so we could suck them back with no lemon, seafood sauce or mignonette to hide the flavour of the briny deep.

Weird was all the things we didn't have, like Tang - the drink of astronauts, and Marshmallow fluff, grape jelly (100% pure sugar and artificial flavour) and Spagetti O's. Normal was crying desperately when the family cooked the lobsters I had just been playing with, and crying again when they didn't leave me anything except the swimming legs to eat.

Weird was TV dinners and jello with RediWip creme. Normal was going across the valley and picking wild black raspberries or eating wild russet apples that were tiny and hard and so sweetly sour that they made the long walk through the woods to get them worth every minute.

Weird was always the word applied to me by my friends, but I think their meaning was someone who wasn't a part of their genetic or inherited culture. Back then they would never have dreamed of eating raw fish, now they exclaim over the salmon sushi they had for dinner last night. But if you offered them ice fish, they would probably roll their eyes up and turn away, muttering to themselves "Yuck, how gross!"

Accepting the weird as normal makes life much more interesting and opens you up to the possibilities that life has to offer.

Oh, and the meaning of the top picture - well, isn't eating raw eggs, rotten grapes and oil a little bit weird?

Lunch Time

Standing outside of my local falafel stall today was a rag & bones wagon with its skin & bones horse waiting patiently in the sun. His owner was busy filling his face while his nag seemed to get thinner in front of my eyes. Mind you, the collecter wasn't much better. He is a local addict (one of many - there are 3 methadone clinics within walking distance of my teeny tiny mouse house), who lives two buildings down from me. We are on friendly terms.

This is the way it has to be with "narcomanim" as they are called here. The idea being, if you are nice to them, they won't break into your apartment and steal enough for their next fix. To that end, I keep my scooter chained twice through a metal sliding door in the closed-in back entryway to my building. This hasn't stopped someone from stealing my battery and trying to steal the replacement (mind you they left a very expensive bolt cutter in return!). At any rate, this particular narcoman always stops whatever he is doing to say hi and chat. When he first saw me chaining my scooter and put two and two together, he promised to keep an eye on it to make sure nobody stole it in the future. Tfu tfu tfu (envision me knocking on my head as I say that) 3 years have gone by and I still have my faithful steed.

Hunger had me - as my neighbour wiped his chin with his inadequate napkin and wished me good appetite, I walked through the door and stared hungrily at the various salads, sauces, condiments and veggies laid out for me to do with as I will.

What you see below (from bottom left green stuff clockwise): green chili sauce, harissa (Yemenite red chili sauce - very very hot), hummus, chopped cucumber and tomato, red cabbage salad, spicy pickles, cabbage and carrot salad, tomatoes in tehina, fresh tomato and green chili salsa, turkish tomatoe and red pepper sauce.

I ordered my falafel and the guy plopped half a dozen generous sized balls into the pan of oil precariously balanced on the gas stove behind the salad counter. He took out a pita from his cooler chest (where they stay warmish and moist), gave it a curved slash at the leading edge with his japanese box cutter and looked at me enquiringly.

My usual fillers are: hummus, onions with sumach, harissa (always just a little more than they first smear on - I look like I can't handle the heat) and green coleslaw (or the carrot and cabbage salad). I don't like leaving half my falafel at the bottom of the bag because the pita was stuffed too full.

These are more nibbly bits that are good in or on the falafel: pickled cabbage, cauliflower, peppers (hot and sweet) and carrots; bitter syrian olives; green coleslaw (vinegared not mayo); onions with sumach (which for me is a must have - if a falafel stand doesn't have this I move on to the next joint); fried pita bits with zatar; grilled red peppers. The etiquette for genuine falalel stands is that you munch on the various things that are hand ready - therefore the pita bits, olives and pickles. The olive pits get thrown into the street, avoiding passersby, or not, depending on the personality of the eater.

Once the falafel balls are cooked the guy flips them into the waiting pita, giving each one a good squish once it sticks to the hummus. This technique ensures that there is room for more salady bits. After three balls he adds a bit more of the salad of your choice, fills 'er up with the remaining balls, carefully half wraps the almost ready sandwich, adds a few slices of battered, fried potatoes (he if fancy - most places just throw on some chips) and hands it over for me to finish.

I squirt some Ambar over the mess (this is a bright yellow turmeric curry spicy hot sauce that I have only ever seen used on falafels) add a touch of tehina, and then start adding pickles, a slice of fried eggplant (one is enough - they have been deep fried and are sooooo greasy, but oooooh soooooo gooooood!) and two or three deep fried hot peppers.

This is the finished product - a squashed falafel just peering over the edge of the pita, a hot pepper waiting for me to see if it is hot, Hot or HOT .

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Green Almonds

Green almonds are just ending their season. Everywhere I go there are bags of almonds waiting for people to take them home. Peeling the fuzzy green nuts takes patience and you need alot of the whole nuts to make up a half kilo of ready to use nuts.

They are a great way to pass the time while watching TV or sit gossiping and keeping your hands occupied.

Once peeled you can eat them as is, throw them into salads or, my favourite, make them into a fresh almond milk smoothie. What's interesting about this is that the almonds make the milk, water, simple syrup and water mixture whiter than white and whiter than any single element. It tastes a little like freezing liquid marzipan and is wonderfully refreshing on a really hot day. There is an almond syrup called Rozeta that you can use instead of turning your fingers green. Oddly enough it is made of almonds and the kernels inside of peach pits

Honestly though, the best way to drink almond milk smoothies is to go to a kiosk near the Jaffa flea market, watch the little old man in his kippa whizz it up, and then wander the market hunting for bargains. Heaven!

The Breakfast That Never Happened

This is a bowl I made, waiting to be filled with something yummy. The best laid plans of mice and men and motor scooter riders often go awry….
I decided to get up early today so that I could be a human being, sit down and eat my granola & drink a cup of coffee at the office while reading the NYT online.

Helmet firmly fixed in place, sunglasses perched on my nose, I drove through the unusually quiet streets of downtown Tel Aviv making my way towards breakfast. As I avoided the buses that roared and weaved their way through the almost non-existent traffic (think of Ernie and Knight Bus from Harry Potter and you have an idea of what Israeli bus driving is like!) I patted my back (in my head) and congratulated myself on the excellent batch of granola I had just made. Still warm from the oven, a small bag was toasting the middle of my back as I evaded the grasping hand and overwhelming reek of a thin graying Jerusalem syndrome wannabe.

Past the sweet stench of the Elite factory as it turned out Cow Chocolate (unlike some connoisseurs, I can't tell from the smell whether it is regular, orange or exploding) it looked like clear sailing ahead. And then, the traffic jam…

You might think New York traffic jams like you see at the movies, neat rows of yellow taxis lined up like ducklings. Or you might think of the jostling traffic of Delhi or Mumbai, where you are never really stopped dead in your tracks and there is always a way through or around or over. This, unfortunately, was nothing like those traffic jams… this was a "hefetz hashood" (חפץ חשוד) traffic jam. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a hefetz hashood is a suspicious object (a forgotten bag of groceries, or one of the 3 gym bags filled with laundry that someone was bringing home for mom to wash) that is usually left sitting amongst a crowd of people waiting for a bus.

Once this object is identified as being suspicious the police and bomb squad arrive in double quick time.

They stop traffic in both directions for a distance of about 200 metres from the forlorn package. Those who are stuck in traffic edge closer and closer to the car in front of them. Three lanes becomes four as people try to squeeze through the gaps. Within minutes there is nowhere for the cars and buses to go, so their occupants swing open their doors and crane their necks, trying to see what the problem is. Of course they make sure to leave the motor running so the air-conditioning can cool the outside and the inside of the car.
In the meantime, the bomb squad guys in their oh so cute uniforms and protective headgear complete with shatterproof masks) maneuver their robotic counterpart towards the unsuspecting package. Sitting in their mobile control center they make their observations: size, height, circumference, weight, potential explosive power, all through the eyes of their robot. There is lots of whispered conversation and communications on their shoulder radios and walkie-talkies. While all this is going on the scooteristes, such as myself, slowly weave their way past open doors, bus exhausts exhaling huge quantities of carbon monoxide and hot humid soot, we scrape between the cars that have decided to create a fourth lane, edging closer and closer to ground zero minus 200...

When we arrive we all jostle for the post position, eyes on the flag (well, the cop who will ultimately wave us forward). But after a minute or two, with the space between us decreasing and the number of us increasing, the first, most experienced rider, turns off his bike and lights a cigarette. Then the girl in the stilettos (on the bright green 50cc scooter) takes off her helmet and starts adjusting her makeup in her mirror, while others start talking on their cell phones. And everybody, the scooteristes, the drivers and passengers in the cars and buses, are thinking of one thing – the coffee they didn't have time for this morning.

Then the go is given, all eyes turn in the direction of the innocent package, a subdued bumph is heard (only very, very, very rarely do you get a big bang, but better safe than sorry…), the robots eye view of the scene is checked once more and the whispered radio talk reaches its climax. The scooteristes put on their helmets, the car drivers' start honking their horns, the buses rev their engines and finally, after being held up for 20 minutes, the race to be first at the next just-turning-red traffic light begins. My stomach growls along with my scooter because it knows I won't have time for breakfast now. Oh well, at least I have granola for lunch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I was reading Tigers & Strawberries the other day and noticed Vegetable Adventures post for The Spice is Right. Wanting to see what other Israeli's have to say, I peeked in and had a look-see. Inside was a link to Chubeza, an organic CSA that delivers in the Tel Aviv area.

"Hmmm", I said to myself, "too much for me… I am only one lonely little soul in my teeny tiny mouse house". Besides, I am not too fussed whether things are organic or not, rather the opposite really, as my pocketbook doesn't stretch too far and things organic (in Israel anyways) are usually at least 3 times the price of regular locally grown produce. Besides, organics are not easily found here, and when you do find them they are sad, mangy, manky looking things.

But then I thought of my upstairs neighbour, (who shall be known in all further posts as SisteR) and how she tries very hard to do the right thing for her family, which often includes me.

When I asked if she might be interested in the caring-sharing CSA thing, not only did SisteR jump at the idea, but she made me turn my computer on right then and there and signed us up for a 4 week trial period.

That was on Friday, and yesterday there was a knock at SisteR's door and she was hand delivered a huge carton of stuff. Practically jumping up and down with excitement she called me at work to tell me about all of the goodies we had just received. She unpacked the box over the phone, exclaiming all the while at the quality and quantity. Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, oriental long beans, cherry and regular tomatoes, baby green onions, basil that scented the whole thing, carrots, butternut squash, eggplant, summer squash, potatoes, a melon and some grapes.

When she got to the grapes SisteR sounded very unenthusiastic, and when I finally got to her place in the evening, I could understand why. Tiny, soft, neither red nor green little balls tightly packed onto twiglets, they were not at all like the showpiece grapes that flaunt themselves from every neighbourhood fruit & veg stall at this time of year, and which practically fall over themselves trying to climb into your basket at the Carmel market. But when I put one in my mouth and the grapey flavour flooded over my tongue, I didn't mind that they had seeds, I didn't mind that they weren't pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine, I didn't mind that their lack of sex-appeal meant they would never sell cars. These were grapes, not sugar packaged in neutered grape form.
So thank you Vegetable Adventures, Halleluiah, I have seen the light!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Jaffa in Summer

Sunshine and melons, this is summer in Israel. The question is what to do with the abundance that threatens to take over the limited space in my fridge. The answer - melon daiquiries of course!

melon, icecubes, vodka, sugar syrup and lemon juice or, homemade limoncello, no vodka, no lemon and less syrup - swirl it up in a blender, sit back and think...
"40 degrees in the shade and I couldn't be cooler!"

When the daiquiries threaten to overwhelm me with their abundance, I cut the melon into cubes and freeze them for later use as further daiquirie fodder (regular or virgin) or tasty icecubes in lemonade.