Wednesday, September 30, 2009

KCC and some family lore

The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here.

Special thanks to Batya for including my crumb bar post.

Thanks also to my mother, who not only gave me the recipe but also provided some family history.

As it turns out, my mother received the recipe from HER mother – i.e. my grandmother a”h - who had adapted it from a recipe SHE got from a relative in New Jersey*.

To me, what’s particularly interesting is that although it isn’t a new recipe, it calls for oil rather than margarine or shortening. So, in addition to all their other virtues, these bars were also ahead of their time…



*Yes, of COURSE it makes a difference that it was NJ and not, say, PA or DE. Why do you ask? ;-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arba minim musings

Several arba minim related thoughts:

(1) If our local email discussion group is any indication, the Shiputzim sons are among the very small minority of boys and young men in our neighborhood who are NOT selling arba minim

(2) Growing up in the States, most boys – including my brothers (who will – I’m sure - correct me if I’m wrong :-)) - didn’t get their own 4 minim until they were relatively old. (YZG was the exception to the rule, because his father was in charge of supplying 4 minim to their entire community.)

Yet, here in Israel, where prices are significantly lower, even young kids have their own sets.

For instance, we start purchasing sets for our boys as soon as they commit to coming to shul every morning (i.e. 3rd or 4th grade).

(3) And finally, as you may recall, after shmitah, our aravah tree was extremely overgrown, and thus, immediately after Succot, we pruned the tree.

However, based on my training and well-deserved reputation as an internationally-acclaimed gardening expert, as further proof of my ignorance, I believed that we had cut off way too much. Indeed, I was convinced that this year, we wouldn’t even have enough aravot for ourselves.

But, shockingly, to no one’s surprise but my own, the aravot soon grew back, and B”H, we once again are blessed with a bumper crop:


And so, I reiterate our offer from last year: We would be glad to provide any readers who happen to be near TRLEOOB* with aravot. If you are interested, please contact us at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com.


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

HH 236

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here.

Special thanks to Benji for including my gan meeting post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quick and easy crumb bars

Here in TRLEOOB*, the dessert at our seudah hamafseket (the festive meal right before Yom Kippur) always consists of something we call “Crumb Cake”.

In truth, it’s not really cake. Indeed, most people would probably call them Crumb Bars or even Jam Squares.

Either way, it’s the perfect way to start off the fast. It’s light, not overly sweet, and very easy to make.

And if you happen to have any leftovers, they work well after the fast too!

IMG_6303 Special thanks to my mother for giving me this recipe. (Maybe she can explain why we call it Crumb Cake? :-) )


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 heaping tsp baking powder (i.e. one envelope for our Israeli readers)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (we like vanilla)
  • 1 cup oil (I use canola)
  • Any flavor jelly, jam, marmalade or preserves (we prefer strawberry)
  • An additional 1/2 – 3/4 c. flour for the crumbs


Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs and extract. Slowly add oil, and knead dough by hand. Spread 2/3 of dough into a baking-paper-lined (or greased) 9x13 baking pan. Spread jelly over dough in pan. Add extra flour to remaining dough to form crumbs. Cover jelly with crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from oven. Cut into bars but leave them in the pan until they are cool.

Update:  I wrote more about these bars’ history here.

גמר חתימה טובה

May you have an easy and meaningful fast, and may we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet, happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A never ending source of amusement

What’s funnier than the world’s top comedy clubs?

Four words:

The annual gan meeting.

Yes, you read that correctly. The meeting where the gannenet tells the parents about all her plans for the coming year is – as far as I’m concerned – a great place to go to enjoy a good chuckle.

After all, consider the following:

  • The gan meeting is the third most important date on the gannenet’s calendar. (The first two are the Chanukah party and the end-of-the-year graduation party.)
  • Even though it’s only a preschool meeting – and, really, how much is there to talk about?! - the gannenet takes the gathering very, very, VERY seriously.
  • In fact, the gannenet spends three days preparing the kids for the big event (a la the Shloshet Yemei Hagbalah). She has the kids make an arts and crafts project for their parents’ benefit, and although they’re  not even going to be there, the kids are encouraged to think that nothing could be more exciting than having their parents visit the gan.
  • The gannenet gets all dressed up for the occasion – including makeup, shaitel (if she’s so inclined), etc.
  • Assuming that the sayat (aide) knows her place,  she also wears nice clothes, but as befitting her station, she’s careful not to overshadow the gannenet.
  • When the parents arrive, the gannenet proudly shows them their kids’ artwork. The parents are then required to figure out which project was made by their own offspring. (“Hmm. Maybe this one on the right is my son’s? If I hold my head to one side and squint, that squiggle over there kinda looks like the first letter of his name…”)
  • The parents are then given art supplies and asked to prepare a project as a surprise for the kids. (No, I’m DEFINITELY not kidding about this one…)
  • While the parents sit there coloring, stringing beads, and gluing (!!), the gannenet talks about the gan. (Of course, she could’ve just typed all this information up on 1-2 sheets of paper, but then she wouldn’t have had an excuse for the meeting…)
  • Finally, there are always refreshments. And we’re not talking about a plate of stale Bamba either. For instance, at a recent meeting, each parent received a fresh chocolate croissant and a bag of chocolate milk.

See what I mean?

But before you go check out one of these never-ending sources of amusement, I should warn you that it’s very bad form to use the words “enjoyable” and “gan meeting” in the same sentence.

Indeed, it’s de rigueur to insist that they’re boring, inconvenient, completely unnecessary, and a total waste of time.

All of which is quite true.

And yet… and yet…

{swallows hard and gets up the courage to make a confession}

These meetings always make me laugh.

{glares defiantly at all the shocked faces}

I can’t help it. They’re just so ridiculously, absurdly, and hysterically funny…


Monday, September 21, 2009

HH 235

The latest edition of Havel Havelim is available both here and here.

Special thanks to Batya for including my most recent "kumsitz cuisine" post. (I confess that despite – or, perhaps, as a result of - my Tzom-Gedaliah-induced hunger, poikeh doesn’t sound very appealing right now…)

.צום קל ומועיל

May you have an easy and meaningful fast, and may all the fast days soon be transformed into festivals and days of joy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Rosh Hashanah edition

The other night, the Resident Ulpanistit and I baked challah. As is the custom right before Rosh Hashanah, we made enough to separate challah with a brachah.

Here are the results of our efforts:


Another baked (or oven-cooked, to be more precise) Rosh Hashanah offering from the kitchen here in TRLEOOB* is tzimmes:

IMG_6296 IMG_6298The  recipe comes from last year's tzimmes post, which – oddly enough – still holds the Our Shiputzim record for greatest number of comments…

Finally, the entire staff wishes all our readers a wonderful, happy, healthy, and sweet new year.

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

!לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Membership has its privileges

I should probably warn you.

Here in TRLEOOB*, we’ve declared this the Year of the National Parks.

Or, to put it in blogging terms, you may be seeing a significant number of posts about Israel’s national parks.

Let me explain. (All together now, “No, there is too much. Let me sum up...”)

Back in August – you know, that lazy, halcyon, and far-off time when homework, making lunches and getting everyone out in the morning were but distant memories – YZG and I decided, pretty much on the spur of the moment, to become members of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

You see, we realized that if we visited at least three national parks within one year, a twelve-month family membership would more than pay for itself.

And so we joined.

Since then, we’ve been to two parks - watch this space for further details – and we’re hoping that Chol Hamoed Succot will IY”H help take us way over the break-even line.

Indeed, as you can imagine, we’re determined to maximize our investment by going to as many national parks this year as possible.

In other words, if you look carefully, you just may detect a pattern both to our upcoming tiyulim (trips) and to many of my future posts.

So, if you happen to be visiting any one of Israel’s beautiful national parks over the course of the coming year, please be sure to come over and say hello.

You shouldn’t have any trouble recognizing us.

We’ll be the ones with the Heblish-speaking children…



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dining al fresco, the Israeli way

As part of this blog’s occasional focus on what we like to refer to as “kumsitz cuisine”, we present… poikeh.

According to Wikipedia, this exotic dish originally comes from South Africa, but Israelis have long since adopted it as their own.

In order to learn more, we decided to turn to the experts.

First, we consulted noted chef ATIT (ATIT=a typical Israeli teenager), who – as you may recall - graciously shared the recipe for smoked tuna a few months ago:

Our Shiputzim: What is poikeh?

A Typical Israeli Teenager: Poikeh is a stew that has anything you want in it.

OS: How do you make it?

ATIT: You take a pot, and you put water, meat or chicken, rice, vegetables, cola, ketchup, spices and more.

OS: Cola? As in the drink?

ATIT: Yes.

OS: Interesting. And what type of spices do you use?

ATIT: I don’t know. I didn’t see when they put them in.

OS: And then what do you do with the pot?

ATIT: Make a bonfire, and you cook the poikeh for a while.

OS: Who makes poikeh and when?

ATIT: For activities. Different times. For example, my youth group’s Chevrayah Bet (loosely, high school division) made it one night towards the end of the summer. Each girl brought whatever ingredient she happened to have at home, and we put everything in.

OS: What did you bring?

ATIT: I brought potatoes.

OS: So, how did the poikeh taste?

ATIT: I didn’t want to taste it! But other girls said that there was too much ketchup and that it was too charif (spicy)…

Next, we asked AYIC (AYIC=a young Israeli cook) to provide a few more details:

OS: Did you ever make a poikeh?

A Young Israeli Cook: Yes, in camp this summer.

OS: How did you make it?

AYIC: We took a poikeh pot and put in the stuff that people brought – like potatoes, chicken, carrots, cola, spices, water, and a few other things. Then we made a fire and put the pot on top of it. After it cooked for a while, we added rice. At the end, we also added some petitim. And, in the middle, one of the counselors put in a few grapes!

OS: What does a poikeh pot look like?

AYIC: It has three little legs. We used a #3 pot. I don’t know how many liters it holds, but it was pretty big. Some of the older kids used a #6 pot, which is even bigger.

OS: So, how did the poikeh taste?

AYIC: I didn’t eat it so I can’t tell you! But the other people seemed to like it…

Thank you ATIT and AYIC for sharing your culinary knowledge!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Film Friday: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Edition

As the summer vacation drew to a close, YZG took all the kids on a yom keif (literally, a “fun day” or a “day of fun”). Actually, to be precise, he took them on two separate yemei keif – one for the older kids and one for the younger ones.

The older kids’ yom keif (i.e. OKYK in OurShiputzim-speak) involved lunch at a pizza shop and then going to see the latest Harry Potter movie.

The younger kids’ yom keif (YKYK, obviously) began with visits to not one, not two, but – count ‘em! – three playgrounds and ended with lunch at a pizza shop. (Do you detect a theme?)

I got to stay home and work both times. (Hey, someone had to pay for all that pizza… ;-))

The older kids kept themselves busy during YKYK. (Actually, since they had started school by then, I guess it was their teachers who kept them busy. But I digress.)

However, during OKYK, the younger kids stayed home and watched “It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.

They chose the movie themselves. When I asked them why they picked something which they had seen before, they gave two reasons:

  1. It’s long.
  2. It’s funny.

Which, IMHO, are each as good a reason as any.

And in fact, not only were they glued to the screen for the approximate three-hour runtime, but they sat there laughing hysterically for the entire duration…


!שבת שלום ומבורך


P.S. If you’ve never watched this classic comedy, now is the time to do so. Trust me. You’ll be very glad that you did! :-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

JPIX Carnival

The latest JPIX edition is available here.

Special thanks to Batya for including the Shiputzim family’s visit with a chameleon (i.e. a זיקית – zikit – for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

BTW, in case you were wondering, chameleons really do change colors. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but we’ve actually watched them change from olive green to yellow to brown to black – depending on their setting.

!‘מה רבו מעשיך ה

Monday, September 7, 2009

My BFF Michal

In a comment to the previous post, Toby of the very funny A Time of the Signs blog wrote:

On the flip side of this, I've discovered that those folks calling to collect for various charities are very forthcoming about giving their names. As in, my kids will say, "Eema, Orli is on the phone." I'll pick up, wondering which Orli it could be, and I'm greeted with, "hi Toby, this is Orli from such and such an organization..."

This happens to me all the time, but the ultimate example occurred less than a week after our first sabra was born.

I answered the phone to hear a cheery voice gush excitedly, "Mazal tov, [Mrs. S.]!"

Clearly, it was one of my nearest and dearest friends.

But while my sleep-deprived brain tried to figure out exactly which one, the voice continued.

"It's Michal!" she chirped unhelpfully.

Now I was completely mystified. Still in the throes of my bleary, postpartum daze, I mentally ran through the list of Michals I knew.

Apparently, I was even more exhausted than I had thought, because I couldn’t remember having a best friend named Michal!

Finally, she put me out of my misery and explained that she was calling from one of the infant formula companies...



P.S. In case you were wondering, I politely told her that I was nursing exclusively, thanked her for calling, and hung up…

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Phone tag

Shavua tov!

If – like me - you’re an Anglo parent of Israeli teenager(s), you’ll surely recognize the following phone conversation. I mean, here in TRLEOOB*, it inevitably occurs whenever any of the older Shiputzim kids are away from home.

Me: {answers the phone} Hello.

Caller: Shalom. Is ACST (a certain Shiputzim teenager) there? [Note that the caller hasn’t actually asked to speak to ACST. They just want to know if ACST is there (“nimtza” or “nimtzeit”). Apparently they work for the Mossad or something and are charged with keeping track of ACST’s whereabouts...]

Me: Who is this, please?

Caller: A friend of his/hers. [You know, in case I thought that it was ACST’s sworn enemy calling.]

Me: {tries the direct approach} And what’s your name?

Caller: {only gives their first name, which is always so common that ACST has at least three other kids with the same first name in his/her class.}

Me: {feels like I’m pulling teeth} And what’s your last name?

Caller: {mumbles something unintelligible}

Me: {concedes defeat} Well, ACST isn’t here right now. Can I take a message?

Caller: {apparently startled by such an odd question} What? Uh, no, no thanks. Shalom. {hangs up}



You gotta love ‘em…



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Festive Friday: Birthday parties galore edition

Yes, I know it’s not Friday yet. But hopefully, everyone will be able to handle this – admittedly – highly irregular deviation from proper blogging norms and standards.

Recently, a certain member of the Our Shiputzim Editorial Board celebrated  what I’m told was a milestone birthday.

To mark the occasion, the younger inhabitants of TRLEOOB* (with help and encouragement from TRLEOOB’s senior-most resident) surprised the aforementioned board member with a beautiful assortment of homemade cards and 3-D birthday greetings:

IMG_6170 - CopyAs always, click for a closer view.

And since a birthday party requires a cake, the young party planners went all out and baked a double-layer chocolate cake complete with chocolate frosting:

IMG_6198All together now: kol hakavod, tza’ir bakers! (Hat tip: MAG)

I have it on good authority that the board member in question was deeply moved by the gala celebration. Moreover, I’ve been asked to convey the guest of honor’s extreme gratitude and appreciation to everyone involved.

Update: The same board member, whose friends arranged a truly wonderful evening out in honor of the birthday, has requested that I also take this opportunity to thank the dear Our Shiputzim reader and commenter who planned, initiated, and organized the event. So, thank you!!!

!שבת שלום ומבורך


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog