Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a… crane fly???

They look like giant mutant mosquitoes, and we initially referred to them as “those monster mosquitoes”.

But we soon learned that they’re officially known as crane flies, and they’re actually quite harmless. In fact, they’re not exactly the most intelligent of creatures and are very easy to catch.

The truth is that I don’t remember ever seeing them until about 8-9 years ago – i.e. a few years after we made aliyah.

But then one Purim, they suddenly appeared.

And they were all over the place. Literally. That first year, there were swarms of them in shul on Purim night. (At that time, our shul building was under construction, and the interim structure’s windows had no screens.)

Although their numbers have decreased significantly since then, the crane flies reappear like clockwork every Purim and stick around until Pesach-time. (The kids now call them “Purim Flies”.)

That’s all very interesting, I can hear you say. But why are you blogging about them now?

Good question.

The first – and obvious – reason is that when one’s looking for excuses to avoid Pesach cleaning, any blog topic is welcome.

Yet the real impetus for this post was an incident which occurred earlier this evening here in TRLEOOB*. When a certain Shiputzim daughter went to brush her teeth, she was dismayed to discover a crane fly swirling around the bathroom.

As you can imagine, high jinks ensued.

But YZG quickly removed the offending creature from the premises; the Shiputzim daughter in question was able to brush her teeth; and I headed to the computer to bang out this post….



* TRLEOOB = the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, March 30, 2009

Excuse me, but do I know you?

We briefly interrupt all the cleaning and shopping to bring you the following message from the head of the Our Shiputzim writing department:

Apparently, bletiquette (that would be “blog etiquette”) dictates that I apologize in advance and explain that posting is probably going to be fairly light over the coming week or so.

However, I like to think of this blog as an escape from real life.

And so, instead of boring you with a long and tedious litany of tasks still left on the Shiputzim family’s pre-Pesach checklist, I’ll take this opportunity to ask you an unrelated question:

Do you know me in real life?

I mean, this blog is semi-anonymous at best, and if you’re acquainted with the Shiputzim family, you should be able to figure out who I am within a post or two.

Thus, a small request: If you know me in real life, please email me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com.

Think of it as a win-win situation.

I’ll get to satisfy my curiosity about how many of my real life acquaintances read this blog, and you’ll get to feel less like an anonymous stalker…


We now return you back to your regularly scheduled panicking

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fatigued Friday

Last night, we changed the clocks here in Israel.

As a result, this morning, most of the Shiputzim family – and, I daresay, most of the country – stumbled out the door, bleary-eyed, mumbling incoherently, and way behind schedule.

The lone exception was a certain Shiputzim daughter who had her gan birthday party today. In fact, she was up and dressed way before anyone else’s alarm had even gone off!

Unfortunately, however, our shul’s “early Shabbat” minyan won’t be starting until next week IY”H.

And so, we’re taking bets: How many members of the Shiputzim family will have fallen asleep on the couch before Kiddush tonight?


!שבת שלום ומבורך

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Important questions

According to an old family joke, there are three important questions* which one must ask a prospective spouse.

And so when YZG and I were practically engaged, I decided that the time had come to find out where he stood on these critical issues:

1) “Which part of the chicken do you prefer – the white meat or the dark meat?” Since YZG likes white meat but I prefer the dark meat, he was able to answer this question to my satisfaction. (This way, both of us get to eat what we like.)

2) “How many hours do you wait between meat and dairy?” I approved of his answer to this question, too. After all, I grew up waiting a full six hours, but YZG’s family only waits five and a half hours. In other words, I gained half an hour.

3) “Do you eat gebrochts?” I should note that this third question is really supposed to be the joke’s punch line. I mean, who doesn’t eat gebrochts?!! But instead of laughing along with me, YZG said, “I don’t think you’re going to like the answer to this question…”

And so every year around this time, I quote the Journeys “Pesach Blues” song and remind YZG that, “it’s not my fault we don’t eat gebrochts!”

But the truth is that not eating gebrochts really isn’t that bad. (YZG – you didn’t see that, right?)

Like A Mother in Israel (who was also surprised to learn that her husband doesn’t eat gebrochts), we’re not fanatic about no gebrochts. Basically, the only thing we avoid is matzah mixed with water. Other liquids are fine.

For instance, I make Pesach rolls with not-from-concentrate orange juice instead of water, and we enjoy matzah meal-based brownies. (The latter point is very significant. I’m not exactly a fan of so-called shehakol brownies…)

In any event, the following recipe contains no matzah products at all.

Non-Gebrochts Broccoli Kugel


  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 heaping TBSP potato starch
  • 1 32-oz bag frozen broccoli
  • A pinch of salt
  • A shake or two of pepper
  • A pinch of onion soup mix
  • 6 eggs, beaten


Sauté the onions in the olive oil. When golden brown, add the potato starch, and mix through. Then add the broccoli, and heat through. Remove from fire, and mix with remaining ingredients. Place in a greased pan. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.


Update: I posted a picture of this kugel here.


* Check out Mother in Israel’s post for other shidduch questions…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I’ll know I’ve become an Israeli if and when I learn how to ask…

  • a) Which party did you vote for in the last elections?
  • b) How much did your new purchase cost?
  • c) Why didn’t you ask me to recommend someone who could’ve done the same job for much less than you paid?
  • d) All of the above.

If you guessed (d), you are well on your own way to becoming an Israeli…



With the possible exception of (b) – which, theoretically, I may have asked when YZG and I were considering buying something or another - I can’t recall ever asking any of these questions. But even if I did scrounge up the necessary courage to ask such a question, I certainly wouldn’t be able to do it with a straight face. Also, I’d feel the need to add an apologetic justification – such as, “I’m Israeli now, and so I’m allowed to ask…” :-)

HH 209

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Benji for including my "tremendous post".

Saturday, March 21, 2009

KCC 40

Shavua tov!

The latest edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here.

Special thanks to Material Maidel for including my vegetarian kishke post. (To prepare a kosher for Pesach version of this recipe, simply use matzah meal instead of flour.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You say “chavRUsah”; I say “chavruTAH”…

Does this sound familiar?

You bump into someone whom you knew way back before they made aliyah. And although you can personally attest to the fact that they used to say things like “shul,” “Shabbos,” “shalosheudes,” and “yontif” – now they’re suddenly talking about “beit knesset,” “Shabbat,” “seudah shlishit,” and “chag”.

You wonder if they have any idea how forced and artificial they sound, and you’re very tempted to make a snarky comment. (“Well, look at you! You’ve been in Israel, what? Like five minutes? And you’ve already turned into a complete and utter phony? Niiiice…”)

But then one day, you make aliyah yourself.

And a decade or so later, you find yourself referring to a “brit which you attended and even wishing a warm “maZAL tov to the “chaTAN” and the “kaLLAH” at a recent wedding.

And now you wonder if you sound forced and artificial…


Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A tremendous post

The problem with all my Heblish posts is that I risk being typecast.

After all, I certainly don’t want to be dismissed as, “Mrs. S? Oh, you mean that Heblish blogger?”

And so, I’ve decided to turn my attention to another made-up language: Yeshivish.

While Heblish is a blend of Hebrew and English, Yeshivish is compromised of four languages: Yiddish, Aramaic, Hebrew, and English.

But if Yeshivish doesn’t interest you, let me assure you that my foray into this topic will be brief and limited to a single question.

Specifically, I’ve been wondering:

Do non-Yeshivish speakers use the word “tremendous”?

I mean, one hears the phrases, “a tremendous learner,” “a tremendous ba’al tzedakah,” and even [the rather oxymoronic] “a tremendous anav,” all the time.

But no one ever says, “a tremendous software developer,” “a tremendous doctor” or even “a tremendous blogger.”

Feel free to leave a comment with more anecdotal evidence, but in the meantime, I headed to Google for some cold hard facts.

As you can see from the following chart*, an incredible 14% of the time that someone used the word “tremendous” somewhere on the Web, they did so in a Jewish context.

Moreover, when I searched for the emphatic “tremendous tremendous”, the percentage jumped to a whopping 17%.

If 17% doesn’t sound like much, please note that Jewish-themed pages presumably account for considerably less than 17% of the Web.

Search term

Number of hits


tremendous34,400,000 --
tremendous Jews OR Jewish OR Jew OR Israel OR rabbi OR Torah OR Yisroel OR Yisrael OR Yiddishkeit4,760,000 14%
"tremendous tremendous" 14,500 --
"tremendous tremendous" Jews OR Jewish OR Jew OR Israel OR rabbi OR Torah OR Yisroel OR Yisrael OR Yiddishkeit 2,390 17%
”tremendous tremendous”

Now that’s tremendous…



* Yes, I am inordinately proud of myself for figuring out how to make HTML tables. Why do you ask? :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

HH 208

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Chaviva for including my "Heblish: Purim Edition" post and also my "Three Stages of Pesach Cleaning" post.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fun & Games Friday: Snowball fight edition

As some of you know, ASG (aka “the CTO,” or “the Chief Technical Officer of the blog”) is double-majoring in physics and computers. (Yes, Israeli high school students have to choose a major or concentration – i.e., a מגמה - megamah, for the Hebraically-oriented among you.)

He attends the physics classes, but his yeshiva gave him permission to do all the computer courses independently.

In any event, he recently developed a snowball fight game using C#.

Here’s a screen shot of the game:

Snowball Fight Game screenshot

ASG wrote the following:

Snowball Fight Game Directions

  • Object: The object of the Snowball Fight Game is to hit your opponent three times with snowballs.
  • Game play: In this game, you play against the computer. Each player starts with three snowballs and three lives. If you run out of snowballs, you won’t be able to continue throwing until you make another snowball. When a player is hit, s/he loses some health.
  • On your turn: During your turn, you can either make a snowball, throw a snowball, move closer to your opponent, or back away. The closer you are, the greater chance you have of hitting your opponent.

Now that you’ve read the directions, you can click on the following icon to download and play ASG’s Snowball Fight Game*:

Way to go, ASG!

Shabbat Shalom to all!


* Note: If you get the following error message - "The application failed to initialize properly" - you’ll need to install the .Net Framework from here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Our Shiputzim General Theory of Pesach Cleaning

In a comment to this post, Raizy wondered:

“Now why did you have to go and ruin such a nice post with the words ‘Pesach cleaning’?!”

She raises a perfectly valid point, of course.

And normally, I wouldn’t mention such an unpleasant matter. But the thing is – blogging about cleaning is part and parcel of my new and innovative approach to preparing for Pesach.

Here’s the basic outline*:

Stage IDenialTu B’Shvat - Purim
Stage IITalking and blogging about cleaning in lieu of doing anything constructiveShushan Purim - A week before Pesach
Stage IIIPanickingA week before Pesach – Erev Pesach

If you think about it, you’ll realize that it’s a brilliant system. After all, there’s very little actual cleaning involved…


* Results may vary. The Our Shiputzim management is neither responsible nor liable for any and all undesirable outcomes. Void where prohibited.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

“Orange” you glad we made hamentashen?

Happy Shushan Purim to all!

B”H we were privileged to enjoy a truly wonderful and joyous Purim, which culminated in a thrilling and boisterous game of Purim Pictionary at the seudah. (The clues ranged from “כן תהיה לנו” to “בגתן ותרש” to “מס על כל הארץ”.)

Several Purim-related notes:

1) Mishlo’ach Manot:

We rely on our local fundraising Mishlo’ach Manot Project to satisfy most of our social obligations and bake a few chocolate cakes to take care of our halachic ones:

IMG_4666 The biggest cake is for an upcoming birthday party, not for Mishlo’ach Manot.

Each bag gets a cake, a carton of juice, and a sprinkling of candies for color:


2) Hamentashen:

Growing up, hamentashen were always made out of yeast dough and filled with mohn (poppy seed filling – i.e. pereg for the Hebraically-oriented among you).

But somewhere along the line, I discovered that I prefer cookie dough hamentashen filled with copious amounts of chocolate chips – as do YZG and the kids.

Since our traditional cookie dough recipe calls for margarine, I was on the look-out for an oil-based version. Fortunately, someone on the Israel-Food list posted a link to this intriguing hamentashen recipe, which calls for a whole orange – yes, peel included!

Our Baker-in-Chief (aka the Resident Ulpanistit) made two changes to the original recipe:

  • She used extra flour to make the dough less sticky and thus easier to work with.
  • She added a bit more sugar to account for the extra flour.
  • She also added about a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Here’s the final product:


If you look carefully, you can see the orange flecks.

And the taste?

Admittedly, the orange flavor is surprising at first, but the majority of the Shiputzim family agreed that the orange complements the chocolate chips. In fact, the general consensus seems to be that we should repeat this experiment next year IY”H.

And now excuse me while I go figure out new ways to procrastinate Pesach cleaning…

Monday, March 9, 2009

Heblish: Purim edition

Nothing says Purim like a fuzzy blend of languages.

And so without further ado, here’s yet another batch of entries from the Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary:

Three and a quarter: Hebrew source – שלוש ורבע. English definition – 3:15. Sample usage - “We’re having our Purim seudah at three and a quarter.”

Start in: Hebrew source – …להתחיל ב. English definition – Start with. Sample usage - “Make a post - each one in a label that starts in one of those letters.” (Although technically, this entry isn’t part of the Shiputzim family’s dialect – after all, it comes from a commenter on this post – I took the liberty of including it anyway.)

Take down points; take down the grade: Hebrew source – להוריד נקודות; להוריד את הציון. English definition – Remove points; take off points; lower the grade. Sample usage - “I can’t believe the teacher took down fifteen points just because I got this one answer wrong!”

Dress up to: Hebrew source – …להתחפש ל. English definition – To dress up as. Sample usage - “What are you dressing up to this year?”

Happy Purim!


Previous Heblish editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, Heblish III, and Heblish IV.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Farming Friday: Broccoli edition

The multitalented MAG - He lains! He makes movies! - has a new skill:

He grows vegetables.

You see, his busy weekly schedule in yeshiva includes two hours of agriculture, and a few weeks ago, he brought home some school-grown radishes.

Then, last week, he showed up with a bag of broccoli:

IMG_4647 This picture was taken before trumot u’maasrot (tithes) were separated and before the broccoli was washed/soaked/checked, etc.

שבת שלום ומבורך

from the entire

Our Shiputzim staff!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A look back at… joining Facebook

This will be the first post in a hopefully recurring series, in which the Our Shiputzim staff returns to long-forgotten posts and discusses any and all subsequent related developments. (Please note that the Our Shiputzim editorial board has ruled that priority will be given to boring old posts which no one cared about the first time around.)

About two months ago, YZG and I joined Facebook, after YCT and RCT twisted our arms because we wanted to see what all the excitement was about.

Here’s the verdict:

Everyone knows that Facebook is great for catching up with old friends, for staying in touch, etc.

However, no one told me about the best part. You see, it’s not that I notice these things or even care, and it’s certainly not a competition, but…

I have more Facebook friends* than YZG does!

I’m just sayin’.


* Admittedly, I only have one more friend than he does. But contrary to the opinion of a certain veteran Our Shiputzim reader, being one ahead does not mean that I can be compared to our current illustrious Foreign Minister…


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

“Somebody has been sitting in MY seat…”

Nothing says “oleh” – new or otherwise - like arriving at a simchah at the wrong time.

Indeed, we made aliyah about ten and a half years ago, and we still have no idea when to show up.

For instance, last night we went to a bar mitzvah. It was called for 7:30, and we got there at around 8:30. After taking one look at the guests milling about aimlessly in the half-empty room, even YZG conceded that we should’ve come later.

Nevertheless, there were two distinct advantages to our “early” arrival:

  1. Parking wasn’t an issue.
  2. Neither was seating.

As some of you are aware, smachot without assigned seating are a pet peeve of mine.

Admittedly, the situation has definitely improved with time. 25-30 years ago, asking people to respond to an invitation was considered to be tacky and distastefully American. Matters have since evolved, and most (but not all) invitations seem to include an RSVP.

Seating, however, is another story.

Many affairs have no assigned seating at all – it’s first come; first serve. Others make a half-hearted attempt at seating. In other words, the hosts make up blocs of tables – rather than individual tables. For example, all the guests from the neighborhood might be seated at tables 15-22 (or something like that).

However, both approaches are awkward and uncomfortable. Guests are inevitably forced to scrounge around for a spot, and often, latecomers end up with no seat at all.

That’s why YZG and I always opt for arranging the seating before our smachot.

And the truth is that more and more hosts are going this route as well.

But in the meantime, a guest’s only recourse is to show up extra early – i.e., about an hour after the official starting time…


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Vegetarian kishke

Wonderfully wet winter weekends (try saying that five times fast) - like this one - are the perfect excuse for… kishke.

Okay, maybe not. Unless, that is, you’ve been fortunate enough to taste my mother-in-law’s vegetarian kishke. I think it’s her most popular recipe. In fact, our family lore includes a story of a Shabbat guest who walked into the kitchen and boldly asked if he could eat the leftover crumbs…

This recipe is not only simple to prepare; it’s very forgiving as well. For instance, when celery isn’t available (e.g., during Shmitah), I just increase the other ingredients (especially the carrot and the flour). I also make it with less oil and salt than the recipe calls for, and that seems to work too.

Finally, if you eat gebrochts on Pesach (more on this in a future post), you can easily replace the flour with matzah meal for a kosher for Pesach version.

If you have room in your food processor, feel free to double the following recipe and then freeze half.

Vegetarian Kishke


  1. 3/4 cup oil (I use less)
  2. 2 celery stalks (I frequently omit)
  3. 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks (I usually increase)
  4. 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  5. 1.5 tsp salt (I use less)
  6. 1 tsp paprika (I use more)
  7. 1 dash pepper
  8. 1.5 cups flour (I use a bit more)


Put the oil in the food processor. Add the vegetables and spices, and run processor until all the vegetables are finely chopped. Add the flour, and mix through in processor. Form a roll in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours. Or, place raw in cholent pot, on top of the other cholent ingredients.