Friday, December 24, 2010

Date Night!

Cross posted on The Daily Yay!

Hubby here! For the first time in a long while we were free from following the little-one around on her adventures. Yay for grandparents who come all the way to New babysit. Sarah and I had a romantic meal at Shalom Bombay (great service and food!) interspersed with many tender affections and not a little bit of conversation about Hinduism and karma.  Give a yay to get a yay is what I say. How many of you had a yay day today? A yay hour? A yay moment? Share your daily yay and keep the good vibes alive.

A yayful restaurant experience!

Cross posted on The Daily Yay!

My in-laws arrived today! That would be a "yay" in and of itself, but the servers at Wolf and Lamb, the kosher meat restaurant where we went out to dinner, went out of their way to accommodate our group of four adults and one baby. They really didn't have to, as the restaurant was already almost filled to the brim. They managed to squeeze in a high chair at a table that was really supposed to be for just four people. Though we'd been feeding Rena banana flavored Organic Puffs to tide her over, a server brought us a complimentary giant matzah ball for her to eat. Wow, she enjoyed this new food so much, she gave her Grammy huge smiles and clapped excitedly while she scarfed it up!

Rena and her daddy playing with her sippy cup at Wolf and Lamb

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Apple Adventures

cross posted on Kosher Cuisine

I step inside the front entrance, unlock the next door with my key dangling from my neck, and enter the dim, narrow hallway. I gingerly make my way to the machine that will prove I'm here at work today and clock in....

...I leave my stuff in my office, as usual. It's another typical Sunday at my job working with people with developmental disabilities. While I serve breakfast, some consumers ask, as usual: "Are you doing computers today?" I answer, "Probably."

Or is it a typical Sunday? The supervisor in charge today announces, "We're going apple-picking today!" My face lights up at this opportunity to take my people outside and pick some fresh fruit right off the trees!...

...As we walk and pick through the pick-your-own apple "store" at Wilkens Farm, concentrating on finding the best apples, the usual arguing, fighting, and teasing amongst the consumers at my program gradually fall away and we just enjoy the experience. I raise my arms with our picking pole, successfully knocking an apple into the basket; and another staff teases me by asking me to get an apple that's too high up for me to reach. I'm having such a wonderful time that the supervisor photographs me holding the picking pole up to a treetop!

How incredible it is to say the blessing "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the tree," then bite into a beautiful, juicy apple bursting with sweetness half a second after taking it off, with my own hand, the tree on which it grew!...

...I surprise my husband with a bagful of apples. I say to him, "Good thing I didn't buy apples already!" I use one large apple to make my promised apple honey pie (with fat-free plain yogurt), a recipe that I found one year right before Rosh Hashana to use instead of the traditional apple slices dipped in honey....

...My husband eats a few apples over the next couple of days; I use the rest to make applesauce that I use to make another baby cake (see previous post). Pancakes (made with whole wheat flour and with Truvia instead of sugar) are next, with the leftover applesauce used instead of margarine in the recipe, instead of canola oil for frying, and served on top. Yum!...

...We buy more apples. Good, because my husband has requested granola for breakfast (which I make with Truvia instead of sugar and instead of brown sugar; and without vanilla or cooking spray and just a small amount of almonds since those can get expensive), and I always serve it with fruit! I will layer two bowls -- one for me and one for my husband -- with one serving of granola, an apple cut in small chunks, and -- oops, we forgot raisins -- a banana instead of raisins. I pour fat-free milk into both bowls. My husband has also eaten his granola with watermelon and raisins, and also with pineapple and raisins; but granola with an apple and banana is my favorite so far!

What else could I make with apples or applesauce? Please leave comments with your suggestions!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spoiled Applesauce

I stick my hand deep into the recesses of the fridge and pull out the applesauce. I open the top. Ewwww! Something nasty hits my nose with a strong upper-cut; I recoil in disgust from the invisible wall of bacteria that has been released.

As I toss the applesauce into the garbage, I think: Oh, no, it's a holiday! I need more applesauce but I can't buy it now! I say to my husband, "Maybe I'll take some apples and make my own applesauce. Any idea how to do that?" He shrugs. I can't look up online how to make applesauce, either. What can I do?

I put five New York apples into a pot of water on the stove and let it boil. I don't know if this will work, but...after awhile, I check the apples, and sure enough, they feel like applesauce! I take them out of the pot, slip the peels off, remove the seeds, and mash them up a bit with a fork in a plastic food container. Wow, that was easier than making and peeling hard-boiled eggs!

I add about a cup of my applesauce to six mashed bananas that I've mashed with a fork and pour in half a cup of unsweetened Silk soy milk. I mix it all up. Finally, the mushy mixture goes into a bowl of whole wheat flour, Arm and Hammer baking soda, and wheat germ....

An hour and a half later: Delicious baby cake! I'll definitely make this with some added Truvia for Rena's first birthday party! The baby doesn't seem to like it yet, but it's the only cake I've eaten or served to grown-ups that I can honestly say is guilt-free!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fruit Haiku

Pretty pineapple

makes a lovely centerpiece.

I must chop you up.

White snowflake crystals

fall atop the red mountains.

Green rain drizzles down.

Buzzing blender loud

pulverizes strawberries

slowly liquefy.

Frozen raspberries

tossed into the red mixture.

Now it is redder.

Yellow cubes added.

Mutilated pineapple.

Messy fruit basket.

Liquid pours in molds,

hides in back of the freezer.

Yummy popsicles.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Cheese"burgers and "Pepperoni" Pizza

Cross posted on Kosher Cuisine

My husband, who did not grow up keeping kosher, reminisces about cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza, shellfish, and other delicacies he hasn't tasted in years. I wonder: What can I make for Shabbat this week to bring back those memories for him in a kosher way?

This week at Fairway, I head upstairs to the section with the soy products. It's incredible: One can buy so many foods made with soy that look and taste like meat or dairy but are actually completely parve! Sure, I've used soymilk in my meatballs recipe that calls for milk -- but oh, the possibilities of soy! I can buy any of several soy cheeses: cheddar, nacho, mozzarella....I pick mozzarella to make "cheese"burgers. Having never had a cheeseburger in my life (I grew up mostly kosher, so I never had anything that was a clear no-no), I have no clue what's the best cheese for a cheeseburger. Maybe I'll use cheddar next time. All I know is that I'll slice the soy cheese and melt the slices on top of the meat once it's been mostly cooked into burgers, according to my husband.

Ok, that takes care of one meal. I'm thinking for the other meal I'll do a pizza with real cheese and some kind of fake meat made of soy. Let's see what there is....OMG, there's fake pepperoni! Perfect! I'll make my pizza crust (with whole wheat flour, of course), spread it with sauce (I use spaghetti sauce), and lay the pepperoni slices over it. I can still use my usual cheesy veggie pizza recipe for the veggies this time, and perhaps I'll just put some mushrooms over the "pepperoni" next time for a change.

Wow, my husband is going to be so happy this Shabbat!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thursday adventure!

....Continued from previous post

....As we surge forward with the masses on the sidewalk, we pass the row of strawberries, cherries, and other fresh fruit stacked outside under the building's blue awning. Rena and I enter the door with the steps leading to the second floor. Ahh, here we are! We've finally arrived at Fairway, the super-market that has two floors! I carefully carry Rena up the stairs in her carrier. For once, I remembered to stop upstairs first so I could easily take the stairs instead of having to drag a shopping cart onto the elevator. This week, I need only soymilk from upstairs, for making meatballs. I start to grab a carton of ZenSoy because that's usually the cheapest of all the non-dairy milks there- but then the word "SALE" on some signs catches my eye. What's on sale here? I wonder. Some of the more expensive soymilks have a sale sign, but so do Blue Diamond almond milk and a rice milk. I pick the almond milk for several reasons, but mainly becaus I love almonds and expect the taste to be delicious! It's also low-calorie. I grab one and carefully carry Rena back downstairs.

We dodge the customers who are paying for their purchases as we head over to the beginning of the path that is the first floor, the vegetables. Fairway chose to have us, its loyal customers, begin our search for sustenance with the most nutritious selections! I equip myself with a shopping cart. Good, the broccoli is still 2 for $5 so I pick out two beautiful, green broccoli bunches. Refrigerated opposite the broccoli is a selection of spinach, arugula, and....Fresh herb salad! Awesome! I'll use that for my salad instead of the usual lettuce or spinach. And here, at the opposite end of the aisle, are my all-time favorite vegetables: Multiple varieties of mushrooms are sitting on the shelves, both loose and packaged, just waiting to be savored! Today I take a few of the loose, giant portabella mushrooms and grab a few handfuls of loose crimini mushrooms. Mmm, I can already taste the garlic tilapia with mushrooms....

..."Can I please have two pieces of tilapia?" One of the men working behind the fish counter picks out two nice pieces from the pile. He places them on the scale, wraps them up, and hands them to me. I toss my "catch" in my shopping cart, and we continue to the vast selection of breads -- from challah to bagels to tortillas to naan bread. I find a kosher, fresh loaf of "Bread Alone." No challah for us- we prefer natural, whole-grain bread nowadays. Now, this week I know I have to replenish our Kedem grape juice supply, as we finished the bottle last week. Rena and I head over to the kosher aisle. Which kind do I want this time? Do I want concord or blush? Let's try blush this week.

What else do I need this week? I know I'm making meatballs....Of course, I need ground meat! Should I use real ground beef for this week's meatballs, or should I use ground turkey? Well, the ground turkey is both cheaper and healthier than ground beef, so I grab a package of Kosher Valley ground turkey. I'm careful not to pick one that says ground turkey breast because those are about the same price as the ground beef. At this point, I take a break and turn on my PDA to make sure I didn't forget anything in my shopping list...Oh, oops- I forgot to get more cooking spray! So Rena and I find the aisle that holds the baking supplies. There, above the oils, is a selection of cooking spray. I choose the cheapest: Pam. I've also forgotten to get roasted edamame beans for the salad. I find these in the selection of kosher nuts, vegetable chips, etc.

Finally, with every item on my shopping list checked off, Rena and I wait in line to buy our Shabbat food at one of the express lanes. Rena remains asleep as I swipe my card and hike with her and my bagged groceries back to the subway to return home from our Thursday adventure. For now, this is how our special mommy-and-baby bonding time goes each week- But I can't wait until my Little Pie is old enough to enjoy food shopping without sleeping through the whole thing!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Putter Pie! (Or Putterfly)

My PDA is in the backpack. I've got my debit card and my Metrocard within easy reach. Oh, wait, I forgot my phone; it's plugged in in the bedroom because it was running out of power. Back and forth I go, puttering around our apartment and distracting my husband who's trying to get some work done.

"Why don't you just get the baby dressed?" he says. "Come on, hurry up!"
"But I'm not ready to go yet!" I protest. "I have to finish getting dressed!"
A moment later, as I fill a bottle of formula (Philips Avent 4oz Bottle w/ Newborn Nipple): "I thought you were getting ready to go!"
"I am! This is part of getting ready."

And indeed it is, as are making sure I have enough diapers and wipes in the backpack and packing the powdered formula (Similac Advance EarlyShield Powder Formula - 23.2 oz.) and the portable changing pad. Rena and I are getting ready for another Thursday adventure together!

Finally, I'm dressed and ready to head right out the door. I just have to get Little Pie dressed in a gazillion layers so she doesn't freeze and put her in the baby carrier -- always the last preparations I do so she doesn't have so much time to get overheated.

Now my husband is distracting me with his jokes and playfulness while I attempt to dress the Little Bean who is, of course, miserably uncomfortable in her layers. Not to mention the difficulty of stuffing her and her layers into the carrier. There is a constant background noise of "Waah, waah, waah," but the moment I pick her up in the carrier and sling it over my shoulder like a purse...ahh, serenity at last!

My husband and I say "Bye, Pie!" to each other, and I carry Rena in her carrier to the front door, where I pick up the backpack and put it on. By this time she's sound asleep. I open the door and step out into the hallway. I take the elevator down to the first floor and exit the building, a huge smile planting itself on my face as I get psyched for our adventure! My stride is slow (I don't want to trip while carrying the baby) but purposeful. We reach the subway station. I wait eagerly for the 1 train, and when it comes, I rush inside and grab a seat so Rena can be comfortable and safe as we race toward Thursday's destination.

"This is 72nd Street," proclaims the conductor. "We're almost there, Rena," I tell her, although she's still asleep. We navigate the sea of people, first in the subway station and then outside. We walk just a couple of blocks and then, suddenly, our goal appears before us and the adventure begins....

To be continued....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just a Banana?

Today's the day: I've gotta make three sales or this job isn't worth it for me. Why bother? Because you never know what can happen if you just keep trying! I'll go check out those big apartment buildings down the street....

Figures, they don't pay their electric bills so I can't sell them Direct Energy. That bench here in the courtyard looks comfy; I think I'll take a break and figure out what to do next....

The tall, black woman jolts me out of my reverie. "Are you a Jehovah's Witness?" she asks. I guess I look like one from the way I'm dressed, all in black with a businesslike coat, skirt, and hat.
"No," I answer. "I'm Jewish."

We get into a very pleasant conversation, and I even take a look at some literature. See, I take to heart the words of Pirkei Avot (Chapters of the Fathers) that say: "Who is wise? The one who learns from every person." I obviously don't agree with their Jesus thing, but perhaps there is something I can learn from this encounter. She tells me that at Jehovah's Witnesses' conventions, everyone greets each other like they're family. She says that Jehovah's Witnesses can always count on each other when they need someone to do a kindness for them, such as a place to stay. I exclaim, "Wow, we Jews could really learn from you guys!"

Now we're sitting in the kitchen at her apartment discussing her electric bills. Turns out she has three separate accounts! Maybe I'll close three today miraculously! We have to wait for her daughter to come home, though, but in the meantime we chat some more and she offers me a banana. Just a simple banana, from a bunch sitting on the counter, but I very much appreciate it, because I of course can't eat any prepared food from her kitchen and I've been walking around all afternoon. So she practices what she preaches. Yes, it is polite to offer food to a guest, but in all my time doing residential sales, I was only offered to come in once (I didn't because I'm not really supposed to) and most of the time it was just the opposite. In other words, I'm much more likely to get the door slammed on my face, never mind a banana.

So I am wise this time and learn that there is, in fact, a group of people who are kind to each other because they believe that that is what G-d wants most of all from people. I do not get to sign up her and her daughter in the end, but I do get a banana and some good food for thought....

Over a week later, as I am making banana bread ( ) for Shabbat because I don't have a job to be at on Friday anymore, I smile fondly at the memory, hoping that I can learn to be a truly kind person ( ) and that I can really help people with my next job.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Surprise On-the-Job Lunch

I'm loving my new job! It's my second day doing door-to-door sales for Culligan drinking water systems ( ) in my own territory -- I was training in other peoples' territories last week -- and while I haven't made any sales yet in Teaneck or elsewhere, I've sure learned a lot! The more "doors" (businesses such as stores, salons, or doctors' offices) I see, the more confident I become. I think I'll do just another block or two of Cedar Lane and then stop to eat my usual Luna nutrition bar ( ) and drink my Naked juice ( ) for lunch.

Yay, that business there, near Grange Road, has the word Shalom in it! I'll for sure get them to sign up, if not now then next time around. I take a closer look at the sign that says Shalom Bombay, wondering what kind of business it is.... What?! A kosher Indian restaurant?! ( ) I debate with myself: Sarah, you just rejoined Weight Watchers ( ), and besides, you don't want to spend that much money for a fancy lunch. But I've never been to an Indian restaurant and I want to try it!

I step inside and am greeted by Refael at the front, who has me choose one of the four tasting menus. I select:


$ 16.00








because it is the least expensive selection that includes meat.

I sit down at the nearest table and gaze around at the magenta walls, shiny cat figures, and other Indian decor. Since it is lunchtime, I have the place to myself except for a couple by the opposite wall. "Is that Indian music?" I ask Refael as I wait for the waitress to bring me something from the menu. "Yes," he says, "do you like it?" The relaxing, rhythmic music is very beautiful background music for my upcoming meal.

Kalyani the waitress (her name is the name of a rhythm and a goddess) appears bearing a basket of soft, thin naan bread and three small bowls of sauces in which to dip it. I get up to wash and return quickly to enjoy that first delicious bite of naan by itself. Then...boy, are those sauces spicy! I eat up all the naan, but just a tiny bit of each sauce is enough to provide an ample burst of flavor for all the bread in the basket!

Kalyani then brings me a single, large, round, silver tray with a mound of rice on one side and five tiny, colorful bowls curved against the opposite side, across from the rice. "This one is the dessert," she says, pointing to one bowl that looked like it should be sweet rather than spicy.

I begin with the bowl containing a few pieces of chicken and sauce, bracing myself for the burn....I have to take a few gulps of water, it's so spicy! Kalyani is concerned that I don't like it, but I assure her that I like the flavor; it's just really spicy. I put rice in it to try to take the edge off, while she disappears in the back and returns with a couple of lemon slices. "Lemon juice takes away some of the spiciness," she tells me. I try it, and sure enough, the taste is a bit milder! The flavor is still very strong, but not so spicy that it burns my mouth. Kalyani informs me that I could have asked for my food to be mild. I didn't know it would be quite so spicy, but I'm glad to experience the real thing the first time. Next time I will request a milder meal.

I continue on to the bowl with lamb and sauce. Same deal: I put rice and lemon juice inside before I continue eating. And again with the tofu and sauce. In the meantime, Kalyani has brought me a small bowl of some white stuff that she says will help with the spiciness, and indeed it does. The daal is different, though. It reminds me of a thick version of pureed soup that I'm able to eat with a fork. I eat it without rice and lemon juice, as it's not as spicy as the other three, in my opinion. The whole while, I am absolutely enjoying the incredible sensations in my mouth. Finally I get to the dessert, which appears to be some kind of rice pudding. I take the first bite, and... wow! Its sweetness is unique and perfectly complements the spiciness of the rest of the meal. This final delight is the perfect ending to a most incredible eating experience that has left both my belly and my tastebuds more satisfied than any other meal I have had in my life! Refael tells me this is the only kosher Indian meat restaurant in the USA!

As if that's not enough, Kalyani tells me to wait a moment. She gives me a container of orange candy which she says is fried and dipped in syrup. I cannot wait to eat it, but I put it in my bag for now. I know I will enjoy it more later when my stomach is not as stuffed. For now, I must again brave the cold as I continue along Cedar Lane. Maybe I'll even make my first sale, which would be the sweetest thing of all....